Bringing Home Baby (#2): Team Chaos by Kelsey Hansen

Bringing Home Baby (#2) is a series of guest posts focusing on life after baby #2 comes home. If you want to contribute please contact me – I’m finding the stories fascinating plus it gives me a break while we adjust to life with our own baby #2 born August 18th.

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Kelsey & Ryker

Our son Ryker was born December 29,  2008. Squeezed tightly in between the craziness of Christmas and New Years,a happy, exciting, and STRESSFUL time of year.

His arrival came with absolutely NO WARNING! There I was, putting away Christmas gifts while struggling with my braxton hicks contractions… Which apparently were a little less braxton hicks and a little more 9-centimetres-dilated-full-blown-labor. I probably would have noticed this with my first pregnancy, but when it’s your second, it’s no longer just about you anymore. I already had a child that required my undivided attention, so that back stabbing pain I was feeling in regular two minute intervals? That could wait.

Ryker arrived just thirty minutes after getting to the hospital. Two pushes, and out he came, fast and furious, pushing all of the doctor’s instruments to the floor and sending all of the nurses running in a panic. Introducing our little man, six weeks early and already the beginning of total chaos.

Nothing about Ryker’s arrival came as expected. To say that we were unprepared would be an incredible understatement. His nursery was still my office, we didn’t own one newborn diaper, I hadn’t washed any of his new little outfits, or the cover for his new bassinett- which wasn’t even put together. None of this mattered in the least though, because due to his undeveloped lungs, he wouldn’t be coming home.

Having Ryker in the hospital for the first three weeks of his life was heart breaking. If it had been under different circumstances, I would have packed my things and moved into the hospital with him. But, we have a daughter, Payton, and she needed us too. It didn’t matter where I was, I felt a huge weight of guilt pushing down on me. While at the hospital, I was abandoning our daughter, and while at home, I wasn’t there for our newborn son.

But the absolute worst guilt that I felt, was about how much I was struggling to bond with little Ry. I longed for the one on one time and connection I was able to share with my daughter when she first arrived. I felt so far away from him, and having the nurses, women I didn’t even know, caring for him was gut wrenching. It added an element of detachment, of not being needed. I hated having to ask permission to bath my baby, to feed my baby, and in the beginning, to hold my baby. It just wasn’t how it was supposed to be. It made me feel like less of a mother to him, like I was letting him down.

The struggle of emotions and inability to sleep was affecting my ability to think rationally, and I kept dreaming about sneaking Ryker under my coat and making a dash for the exit. Could you be charged for stealing your own baby? In the end, sanity prevailed, and Ryker stayed where he was, receiving the medical attention he needed to be a healthy, thriving, little guy.

And if this wasn’t enough, the stress and sleep deprivation was affecting more than my sleep, it completely slowed the production of my milk. Breastfeeding came so much easier with Payton, but then again, it was a lot more enjoyable to wake up in the night and cuddle a sweet, hungry baby, than it was to set an alarm and go downstairs by myself to pump for Ryker’s next bottle in the hospital. I learned that pumping milk for baby’s dinner, while spending time with my 14 month old daughter, was incredibly moronic. With Payton pressing buttons on the machine, and me being distracted by her, I didn’t even notice that the pumping had increased until it was too late. My boob? Bruised, almost black and drained dry. It hurt to even THINK about.

We took Ryker home when he was three weeks old, which is when I would like to say the insanity all began, but truthfully? I was too tired to remember. All of my memories from the first nine months are blurred with exhaustion. What I do remember clearly, was that even though I expected it to be the same experience as with our daughter all over again, it was entirely different in every way.

In the beginning, my heart broke a little bit for Ryker. To the outside world looking in, having your second isn’t nearly as big of a deal. We didn’t have close to the amount of people stopping over to see him, sending cards and gifts, calling to ask about him- even our dogs didn’t notice that he existed until he was two months old. They’re a little bit self involved though.

It made me sad, angry even. Did the world think that this child somehow wasn’t quite as special? Would he not be as loved? Did he not impact our lives just as much?

But then, THEN, as I patiently waited for it all to come together, I found a peace in witnessing a new love grow. Payton adored her little brother, and spent hours looking at him, loving him, and touching him, as if to see if he was real. Being only 14 months old when he was born, she doesn’t know a life without her younger bro. They’re a pair. A loving, adorable pair. She began to want to give him his bottle. To bath him. To care for him. And this? Hasn’t stopped even for a moment.

My husband was too distracted by his fantasies of teaching Ryker’s basketball team, showing him how to fix a car, and wrestling with him on the bed, to realize that HE IS STILL A BABY, and was trying to get him to hold himself up in the jolly jumper by one month old.

And the grandparents… They were THRILLED beyond belief to have a sweet, little grandson. My parents had only experienced daughters, my sister and I, and were so happy to find the endearing nature of a precious, little boy. And my step father, who had lost his son a few years earlier, struggled with the memory of his loss, but found the joy in the happy momens Ryker reminded him of.

My sister- she has an enthusiasm for our family unlike any other. ALWAYS here to help, despite her full timecareer as an elementary school teacher, getting her graduate degree in the evenings, and preparing to run a half marathon. She saw the amazingness of Ryker the second she held him, taking away any and all doubt I had that the world didn’t see him as being quite as special as Payton.

And the rest of our family? They were like Ryker’s personal fan club.

Most importantly, despite my fears and hesitations, I developed a bond with my son so unique and special to that of my daughter. I learned that their individual personalities and traits were so completely unique, that my relationship with them would be as well. Ryker became my snuggle bug, and has a sweetness about him that is impossible to miss. He has a laugh that came from deep inside his belly, and a smile that can melt your heart in a moment.

Now that he’s a year and a half, I think back to my pregnancy, and couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much as I loved my daughter. It couldn’t be possible. I had given it all to her, there was nothing left. Like my milk, I was drained dry. I was empty.

But with Ryker’s arrival, somehow my heart grew just big enough to hold even more love, a love that had been reserved just for him. I couldn’t imagine my life with another child, but now I can’t imagine my life without him.

I try and remember this during the moments where I have Payton practicing on the potty, and Ryker flushes my cell phone down the toilet, or simultaneously poop their pants, or when they’re in the backyard smashing each other with plastic golf clubs, or working as a team ripping out my annuals. The point is, they’re doing it as a team. And most of the time? They’re doing it with love.

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Kelsey Hansen is the mother of two insanely talented, intelligent- not to mention GORGEOUS children (who obviously take after her- can you tell I’m writing my own bio here?).  With her husband serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan, she’s attempting to stay sane by pouring her heart out into her blog Polished Portrayal.  It hasn’t got her past the craziness yet, but it’s definitely helped cope with the stress and drama of her new and overwhelming single parenting role.  And if blogging isn’t enough to get her through until her husbands return?  She’s thinking of trying out base jumping…

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