“I kind of like someone to talk to and I sometimes like being the boss, so it’ll be nice for me to sometimes boss them around.” – Maia Garwood, aged six.
It’s Sunday afternoon, Maia is at the park with my partner, so with a rare few minutes to spare, I decided to try and tick “write blog post on having a second baby” off of my list.
Tomorrow I will be 29 weeks pregnant. I’d hoped to document my pregnancy journey a little more on here, sharing all the highs and lows of growing a human for the second time round. But as with many of the writing goals I set myself, that plan went down the drain during the first few nauseating months of my pregnancy. After several hours at work trying to distract myself from the all-consuming I-need-to-vomit sensation, the last thing I wanted to do was sit and write about it. It was more: “Just get through today”, “Pregnancy IS a blessing”, “I AM grateful for this hideousness” etc etc.
I regularly found that eating actually helped soften the sickly feelings, and embraced this unlikely convenient benefit at every turn. I have always eaten a lot, and now I’d found the perfect excuse to graze like a baby cow all day long.
Snacking incessantly wasn’t the only habit I attributed to pregnancy that was actually more of a permanent tendency. Peeing constantly, being overly emotional and napping whenever the opportunity arose could also be on the list.
So now the nausea has lifted (only took 16 weeks, I hear that’s not bad and I should count myself lucky I didn’t have vomiting or even worse, hyperemesis) I can finally breathe a little, and reflect on what it means to become a mother again.
What it means to give my daughter a sibling.
Whilst I’ve done it all before, and there’s a sense of knowing and familiarity in the back of my mind, it was still seven years ago. It’s all a tad hazy and in many ways I feel like I’m starting completely from scratch. Which is probably a good thing, as my partner really is starting from scratch, and I wouldn’t want to come across as a know-it-all when I am most definitely not. (Though he’s no doubt tired of me saying “Well with Maia this happened…”).
I’ve had a baby before, but I’ve never taken care of a six year old and a newborn baby. In terms of very new big life experiences, my partner and I are on the exact same page. Making it up as we go along. (Which pretty much sums up my journey through both life and motherhood).
It’s surreal, it’s daunting, and it’s the most wonderful feeling.
Giving Maia a sibling
I’d always hoped to give Maia a sibling one day. And I won’t pretend my desire to have more than one child isn’t anything to do with my own childhood.
I was an only child. (I have two much older half-brothers, who I get on well with, but who weren’t around much growing up). For a long time, particularly in the quiet moments at weekends or during long school holidays, I longed for a sibling. Someone to play with that wasn’t imaginary. It seemed like all my friends had at least one. I’d see their big families, or stay with my family in The Philippines and think “One day, I’ll have a house with children running around”. I liked the atmosphere. (Though now when Maia runs around I abruptly tell her to “STOP RUNNING INSIDE THE HOUSE”. I am not the kind of breezy laid-back mother I hoped I’d be.)
There were times when I just wanted someone to talk to about Mum and Dad, that wasn’t Mum or Dad. (Dad suffered from long bouts of depression and aside from Mum I really had no-one to talk about this with. I soon became an avid journaller).
As I approached adolescence, I accepted the sibling-thing would never happen and things could be a lot worse. I’d google “famous only children” and realise not everyone in the world had siblings, and some of the most brilliant humans were sibling-less.
Either way, I grew up hoping to have at least two children. They’d have one another, when times got tough. They might not be close, but then again they might be, which was a comforting thought. I also just wanted Maia to experience all the things having a brother or sister entailed. The love and companionship yes, but also the arguing, the jealousy, the give and take. The messy parts. It was a relationship dynamic I believed she would learn and benefit from.
So now, with my due date just around the corner, I think of all the ways my daughter’s world is about to turn upside down. She is excited, but she is used to being the centre of attention, it’s all she’s ever known, so this new arrival might come as a shock to her little six-year-old system. I ask if there’s anything she’s worried about, and she answers no, seemingly blissfully unaware of just how much time, care and attention the baby will require. As of yet, no sign of jealousy, though I’m sure this won’t last. And I wonder if she’s sometimes unable to articulate what she’s really feeling.
I have some anxiety as to how I will split my time between my two children, how Maia will adjust, how it will all play out. But I’m comforted knowing millions of women have done this before me and after all, it’s one of life’s happier challenges. Somehow, they say, it all just works out.
Thankfully, she is surrounded by more love and adoration than I could have ever asked for. She has my partner and I, her Dad and his partner, my parents, my partner’s parents, her paternal grandparents. Not to mention other family members and all the friends who feel like family. So, even if I weren’t having another child, I know she’ll always have someone.
I asked Maia what she’s looking forward to about having a sibling. She replied:
“Because they’re a child, they won’t be an adult, they won’t be so busy, you and Joel are busy working.”
“When I’m ten, I’ll still like to be doing stuff, when they’re three, they might want to play with me, and I like company, so I get someone to play with..”
“I kind of like someone to talk to and I sometimes like being the boss, so it’ll be nice for me to sometimes boss them around.”