Feb 22, 201307:00 AM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
Second Time's the Charm with Kids
Now that she's crawling, I clearly need to step up my baby-proofing.
It’s said so often that it’s a complete cliché, but like many clichés, it’s said so often because it’s so true: Second babies are way easier. Now some of that might be unique to my two kids: Ruby had really bad reflux, which made her a particularly challenging infant, while Georgia is seriously the happiest baby ever created. Ruby’s default mode was screaming herself red with pain and tiny infant rage; Georgia’s default mode is a huge gummy grin. But I think the other factor, obviously, is my comfort level.
When I brought Ruby home from the hospital, I was petrified: I couldn’t even keep a fern alive for more than a month, and somehow they let me walk out with a living, breathing miniature human. Like many first-time parents before me, I lay awake for weeks just watching her breathe to make sure she didn’t suddenly stop. I nursed her neurotically on some bizarre self-imposed schedule. I changed diapers immediately after she wet them, sure she would break out in some incurable rash if I let her sit for even one moment in a diaper that was less-than-pristine. I changed diapers in the middle of the night, for Pete’s sake, waking us both up much more fully than we needed to be at 3 a.m.
And now? With Georgia, we just sleep where we fall, more or less. Google had me convinced that it would be absolute sudden death if I let Ruby sleep on her tummy, to the point that I would flip her over even when she was well out of the SIDS danger zone, like past age 2. Georgia is definitively a side-sleeper, and now that she’s past 6 months, I just go with it. I once even let her sleep on her stomach, with her adorable diapered butt sticking way up in the air, and she’s still alive. (I am not advocating anything but back-sleeping for babies, by the way, merely noting that I have mellowed considerably on this point with Baby No. 2.) I nurse her when she’s hungry; I change her when I get around to it or when her diaper leaks, whichever comes first. I absolutely don’t change her at night unless we wake up in a puddle of pee. I say “we wake up” because yes, Georgia is sleeping with us. Ruby slept in a co-sleeper – the Internet also had me convinced that our bed was a death trap. Georgia slept in her bassinet until she fell out of it recently – as I said, she is the happiest baby ever, so she doesn’t wake up crying, and a few weeks ago, she woke up and didn’t alert me until I heard a thud followed by a wail and ran into our bedroom to find her on the floor amidst my husband’s shoes. So now she sleeps in our bed while we figure out what to do next in our three-bedroom apartment with five people in it, and except for the kicking and the occasional waking-up-in-baby-pee, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
As for food, with Ruby, I diligently introduced one food at a time, waiting three days between each to monitor potential allergic reactions. With Georgia, I am slightly ashamed to admit this, but last week, I casually scooped a floor peanut out of her mouth. This says appalling things about my approach to both housekeeping and baby-proofing and also speaks to my proclivity to snacking while walking around the living room, but yeah: My baby attempted to eat food off the floor that was not only dirty and not only a choking hazard but was also probably the most highly allergenic food on earth, and I barely even blinked. I don’t think I even let Ruby look at a jar of peanut butter until she was 3, but with Georgia I just flipped it out of her mouth, threw it away and vowed to do a better job sweeping in the future. And so far, she’s happily eaten potato gratin, labna, grape leaves, part of a tongue taco, refried beans, pasta with pesto, eggplant Parmesan and tofu.
We have tried to baby-proof, but wow, it’s a lot harder this time around with everything from Ruby’s Polly Pocket clothes to Elliot’s Mardi Gras bead dogs lying around, and although we have banished everything that seems choke-able to their respective rooms, I do sometimes let Georgia teethe on a large Disney princess or a My Little Pony leg, and about a month ago, she threw up a startlingly pink chunk of My Little Pony hair.
I sometimes feel guilty that I am so lackadaisical this time around, but I also know now that babies are a lot tougher than I thought six-plus years ago. I also try to cut myself some slack because I am doing more now: It’s not like I am sitting on the sofa watching soap operas while my infant falls on her head and eats dangerous things. I am trying to keep Georgia safe and thriving while also getting Ruby to school and ballet and birthday parties; helping her with her homework; and playing princesses and beauty parlor and doctor’s office and camping with her –while also navigating the ins and outs of a blended family and working.
This past weekend, inspired by the peanut incident, I cleaned the house more thoroughly than I have in awhile, which led to me boxing up my maternity clothes and some of Georgia’s outgrown baby clothes, and that was so bittersweet it almost made me want another baby. I am pretty sure I’m done, though. I may not be quite ready to part with my maternity clothes once and for all, but I realistically think this is it for me. My standards have fallen far enough with Georgia – if they got any lower, my next baby would pretty much be raising him- or herself.
But as my mom pointed out when I got all teary packing up Georgia’s newborn clothes: At least I have grandchildren to look forward to.