Preparing for Baby: Your First vs. Fourth Child

Preparing for Baby: First vs. Fourth

Preparing for My First Child

I had three baby showers for my first, my darling daughter: one for extended family, one at work, and one at church. We were showered with everything I could have needed for my baby’s first year of life. I wasn’t against hand-me-downs, but almost all of our gear was brand-spankin’ new: the deluxe Pack and Play with bassinet, the giant papasan swing, the Baby Bjorn bouncy seat, the gorgeously patterned high chair. Baby Libbie had the complete Babies ‘R Us set for her room: matching bedskirt, crib set, sheets, wall art, curtains, pillows…it was all there. The glider awaited her arrival, where I would sit with my hands on my expanding belly, feet up on the ottoman, thinking about rocking my baby girl.

Beautiful Baby Nursery

My bags were packed for the hospital and waiting in our car by the time I was 36 weeks, just in case. Handmade hats and booties awaited my angel’s head and feet. Her closet was full, her bookcases packed with tomes and toys, the changing table full of diapers and (embroidered) burp cloths.

I worked full-time when I was pregnant with this child, and around 37 weeks begged my doctor to put me on half-days because I was just too worn out to sit at my desk and edit. (Oh, 26-year-old Jessie. You are so cute.) Instead I laid on the couch every afternoon and watched Project Runway seasons on DVDs from Netflix. (Remember those?)

Oh, and of course I read books. I wanted a natural childbirth, and I inhaled Ina May and Dr. Sears and learned about birthing and breastfeeding. I went into labor on my due date.

(And then things went awry. But that’s another story.)

Preparing for My Fourth Child

I am tired. Oh so tired. That has been the theme of this pregnancy. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re pregnant and already have 7-, 5-, and 3-year-olds.

We have a three-bedroom apartment and have to figure out how to situate six people in it. Sometime this summer, we decided to put our older two in the smaller bedroom with bunk beds and the younger two in the bigger bedroom in a crib and toddler bed. Not that we will be able to let the baby sleep in her crib, because I am too afraid her 3-year-old brother will climb in the crib and love her too much.

Swing? Where would we put it? Bouncy seat? Eh. When I got pregnant, the grand total of what we still had in terms of baby gear was the crib, a Pack and Play, and an Ergo. What more could I need? Well, a carseat. Maybe a bathtub. Can we survive with just that? Because WHERE IS ALL THIS BABY STUFF SUPPOSED TO GO?

Empty Baby Nursery

Instead of spending evenings in the glider thinking about having a baby, I shuffle around, trying to make sure children are fed, homework is done, they are somewhat hygienic, and everyone has a story before we shove them into bed. Then I collapse. Dirty dishes? They can wait, right?

My mind is possessed with making plans for the other kids when I go into labor. What if we have to take them to the hospital with us? ACK. I wake up at night worrying about this.

I’m 37 weeks pregnant. My hospital bag is kind of packed. The bag for my kids to take to my sister’s house is not at all. Did I mention the week I am probably going to have the baby is parent-teacher conferences and a field trip for my kindergartner? How do people do this with kids in school????

I worry I won’t be able to remember how to breastfeed even though I’ve spent four+ years of my life doing it. I wonder how it’s possible to go into the newborn phase already feeling more tired than I ever have in my life. I wonder if I will be able to get my kids to school with lunchboxes and homework while wrangling an infant and a preschooler. Just getting everyone in the minivan will take 20 minutes!

I am so tired. My mom will help me get all the stuff ready I can’t fathom doing right now. Right?

That thought lets me sleep at night.

Photo credits: Chris Moseley and Fuschia Foot via Flickr Creative Commons

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