As someone who is about to become a father for the second time, the main difference between the first and the second pregnancy is all too apparent. The simple fact that there is already a small toddler running amok means that there is inevitably less time to focus on what has become known as ‘number two’.
My wife has taken the brunt of this: she’s unable to sit down and rest, even in the later stages, without the immediate response of ‘Come on Mummy: let’s play cars’. But I have also done my fair share of toddler groups, musical sing-along sessions, swimming stints and Saturday mornings down at the local soft-play centre.
There’s less time to sit back and take it all in: no week-by-week books to chart your baby’s development (we skipped straight from 8 to 20 weeks, which does make things like the appearance of legs slightly more noticeable), no birth clubs on the internet and certainly no pregnancy yoga sessions.
Yet somehow this pregnancy seems to have lasted longer than the first, Perhaps this was just because we told people earlier. Or maybe it’s because there hasn’t been the whole excitement of buying new baby toys and clothes; rummaging around in the attic for dusty bin bags isn’t quite as fun as a trip down to the toy section of Mothercare.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not been the same last-minute panic. I spent the whole of last weekend frantically decorating the spare bedroom and still have a few minor details to attend to, such as fishing out the baby car seat from under the stairs (more of a job than it sounds).
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Knowing what you will and won’t need is a great help though. The baby bath, for example, has become home to several spiders and it seems cruel to disturb them when there’s a perfectly good kitchen sink available. I even have a longer term career plan for it as a plant pot.
One thing that does need to be tackled, however is preparing our older child for the new addition. As well as giving him a crash course in potty training and moving out of his cot, we’ve made a point of dropping in references to the baby for weeks.
But aside from comments such as ‘Mummy’s got a fat tummy like Daddy’, it’s hard to tell how much has actually gone in. A friend of mine had a similar experience: all was fine for the first two days with the new baby, until day three when the toddler asked when the baby’s mummy was coming to take him home.
What’s more, despite having done this once before, the total sum of what I can remember about looking after a newborn could be written on the back of a rattle. It might just be the lack of time we’ve had to focus on our impending arrival, but I’m hoping the paternal instinct will kick in.
One thing’s for sure, though: I can hardly wait to do it all over again.