Adventures in Co-Parenting: Belly Up

We are both very pregnant right now and people think it’s funny.  And it is.  We get it.  Unless it’s one of those salacious stories you read in line at the supermarket in which a woman gives birth to twins months apart, usually a kid doesn’t get two siblings in three months.  His mom and his stepmom are pregnant at the same time and for Jackson, it’s simply par for the course as this is the second time this has happened.  Three years ago he welcomed his baby brother at dad’s house quickly followed by a baby sister at mom’s house.  In a blended family like ours, or in any kind of family situation for that matter, the introduction of a squealing, pooping, all-encompassing baby is a huge adjustment for everyone in the house.  And we’re getting ready to do just that.  Again.  Both of us. Julie:  I am literally about to have this baby any minute now.  Any.  Minute.  Now.  I am at the point all moms reach when I would like nothing more than to parade around in a tee shirt that lists all of the specifics:  Due October 1st.  Don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.  Feeling pretty good.  Yes, I’d like some cake.  That would make life much easier.  As much as I appreciate the good intentions of people at work, the grocery store, and as I stock up on bulk items at BJs (my husband is on the verge of canceling our membership as my extreme nesting has become a problem), I would really like to be able to travel/waddle from point A to point B without answering questions about my cervix, thankyouverymuch.

When we had our son, Declan, Jackson stepped into the role of big brother like a champ.  Because he was eight years older than his baby brother, Jackson didn’t really exhibit any sibling rivalry or jealousy.  Now that Declan is two-and-a-half and has grown significantly more, shall we say, strong-willed, his big brother definitely has his patience tested quite often.  His legos disappear, his summer vacation days are interrupted by naptime battles, and sometimes we have to deal with a full-on laser-eyed toddler meltdown before we can sit down and hear about his day.  With the impending arrival of the newest member of our family, we’ve mostly given up on trying to prepare the boys for what life will be like once we bring the baby home.  Our reasoning:  we don’t really have a clue what it will be like, either.  There’s no way to ever completely know how a new family member is going to affect life in your house.  The important thing is that you figure it out together.  Now, about that cake…

Katie:  I am exactly ten weeks behind Julie in my pregnancy.  So for me, watching Julie get closer and closer to "the end" is kind of like being next in line for the big roller coaster at the fair.  I impatiently inch forward, complaining all the while of how slow it goes at first, and watch Julie get settled into her seat before this crazy ride.  I see her go up and down, back and forth and see her excitement as she gets ever closer to the final big dip.  I watch and giggle in amusement as she approaches the ultimate test of bravery, and teasingly remind her "there's no turning back!"

But that little voice in the back of my mind is reminding me every day, I better be able to brave the big dipper, too, because my car just pulled up and I'm about to be strapped in.

If you ask Jackson about this pregnancy, you might get a similar vibe (sans the hormonal drama).  He was just so stinkin’ excited about having a baby sister two years ago he didn't even blink as my belly grew.  This time around however, he knows from experience how demanding of his mama the little baby sibling will be. He knows I will have to interrupt our favorite card game to change a messy diaper because they magically occur right when we start playing, and he is firmly aware of the fact that the baby will likely need to be fed in the middle of a major Harry Potter cliffhanger during evening story time.   I keep reminding myself, Jackson's in line for the big coaster, too.  It’s my ultimate test of parenting; I have to somehow brave the big dip while simultaneously holding his hand for the ride.  One more thing he does know however, just how awesome it is to have a baby sibling who thinks you're a real-life superhero to hug and snuggle with.

Our Conclusion:  As parents, there’s an innate anxiety when a new little leaf is about to bud on the family tree.  How will the older kids react?  Will we all be able to handle this?  Will we ever sleep again?  Ever?  Something we’ve found is that all kids will react to a new sibling differently…and sometimes the same kid will react differently in different houses or situations.

There’s no way to predict what daily life will be like once the baby arrives, but one thing is for certain.  Once that little one gets here, it will be hard to picture life without him or her.  No matter how many legos get stolen or tantrums get thrown or stories get interrupted, everyone is going to fall deeply in love that new little member of the family.  When it comes to preparing for baby, go ahead and wash the clothes using the tiny bottle of organic hypoallergenic made-from-the-tears-of-doves detergent, ready the nursery using the latest chevron-patterned-ironically-non-gender-specific paint, and by all means, attempt to tell the siblings what’s about to happen.  Do whatever you have to do to feel ready.  And then all you have left to do is just buckle everyone in and get ready for the ride.

Julie Cox is a proud working mother to Jackson (10) and Declan (2) and a new addition due at the beginning of October.  She spends her days teaching high school English here in Saratoga Springs and her nights cooking dinner, battling toddler bedtime, helping with math homework, and even attempting to crack open a good book now and then.

Katie Nemer is a toga mama to Jackson (10), Zoe (2) and Cocoa (the family labrador). Katie and her husband Josh are also very excited to be expecting a baby boy this December.

Want to read more from Julie and Katie? Click here for the previous installment of Adventures in Co-Parenting.