The second child

I return to work in just a few days, leaving Kate to carry the burden of two small children on her own. Although the time spent with my family over the last six weeks has been great, it can’t go on forever without someone working.

But reflecting on what it has been like this time, compared to the last time we had a newborn, I’ve realised how different these weeks have been.

For our first child, Harriet, we were jumping off a cliff together and we didn’t know what was at the bottom. We lacked confidence, we lacked knowledge, and the only thing we knew was that our lifestyle would be changed irrevocably.

To prepare that time, I read books and went to classes, read my parent friends’ blogs and stocked-up on frozen dinners. And it was all very helpful, and we survived intact.

This time, for our second child, Philippa, I waited until a week before and re-read parts of one book for preparation. A major difference was that this time, we had knowledge (although, a quick refresher helped) and confidence.

But what we had last time that we didn’t have last time was time. While last time, we could relax, rest or sleep during the periods when the newborn was unconscious, this time we didn’t have that luxury.

As well as Harriet having long awake periods, she has also realised that she needs to be more demanding to achieve the level of attention she received pre-Philippa. This may also be explained by simply being two-year-old age, but some is likely due to the competition.

One aspect that is easier is we’ve now well and truly given up on our old lifestyle. Going out most evenings is now a distant memory. The struggle to retain some of the old lifestyle was a part of the adjustment in having Harriet in our lives, and this is a struggle that didn’t need to be repeated for Philippa. I guess this is an advantage in having the two children relatively close together – we hadn’t strayed too far from the way of living that we’d developed to accommodate a baby.

There are plenty of nice things about having another little baby around, though it’s hard not to look back on the early days with Harriet fondly, to now think of how good we had it. This is, of course, looking with eyes that now have the confidence and knowledge that we didn’t have back then, but the yearning for more time is very strong.

So, it’s unsurprising that many of the strategies that we’ve discussed for when I return to work involve getting Kate more time. For example, enrolling Harriet in care for one day a week, visiting Kate’s parents to share the kids around for one day a fortnight, etc.

I know we’re not the first people to have a second child, so it can clearly be made to work. I guess we’ll find out how.


Kate has this theory that new-born babies, aside from mostly looking like what babies look like, resemble mostly their fathers so that any disputes on paternity are cleared up quickly. Well, here is a side by side comparison of what I looked like at Harriet’s age compared with her.

It’s those powerful Scott genes at work. However, I’m a little worried: at some point she better stop looking like I did or we’ll need to rethink schooling options.

A different perspective

It’s something that Kate and I are doing together, but we’re clearly having very different experiences. I don’t think we’ve been so divergent since that time we saw Bowling For Columbine. But this time Marilyn Manson isn’t making a guest appearance.

We’re both caring for Harriet, but due to anatomical differences, we have different roles. Kate handles all of the feeding, while we share the playtime, and I do most of the settling.

Currently the breakdown in hours is something like this:

  • Sleeping – 14 hours
  • Feeding – 5 hours (including mid-feed nappy change)
  • Settling – 4 hours (including bath-time)
  • Play – 1 hour

There’s no play at night-time, and happily she requires minimal settling after midnight, so my participation is generally limited to civilised hours. However, Kate is involved 24/7.

The other aspect is that I’m involved to this level for only these weeks before I return to full-time work, while Kate is looking at doing this for months and months into the future. I’m hoping that at the six-week mark, when I go back to work, the most dependent and most unsettled parts of Harriet’s early life are behind us.

But we are living different lives here, despite spending all our hours together. I guess I wasn’t expecting that.

Pre-parent retrospective

Well, given that I’m coming to the end of the pre-parent period, I might record some of the weirdness. At least, before it’s eclipsed by the upcoming weirdness of actually being a parent.

The whole process has been a reversal of the “natural order of things”, as I’ve come of think of them since I became a teenager. I guess this is part of the universe preparing me to have everything turned upside down, and rearranged in new ways when our little girl arrives.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how weird some of this stuff felt. For starters, how are you supposed to overcome the years of conditioning on contraception? Enough said on that one.

And I’ve previously commented on the whole period that follows where you lie to your closest friends for months. How strange is that?

Then there’s the sudden interest in female human biology. All those birth classes are a bit of a crash course. Ordinarily this would be a worry, wouldn’t it?

Plus getting all the baby furniture, equipment and accessories in readiness. The technology and terminology turns everyone into geeks. Normally that level of geekiness is considered rather over the top, but in this context, it’s perfectly okay.

But the strangest thing of all is knowing that there’s another organism growing inside Kate. You can see it moving under the skin. That’s the sort of thing that would feature in a horror movie. However, when we go to the doctors about it, they are just very excited for us.

Most of the time I’m excited for us, and looking forward to the future we’re going to have together. But, there are moments when it all seems completely surreal.

Let’s end the lies

10 week ultrasoundWe’re now telling people something we were denying before – that we’re expecting a baby. Kate’s 17 weeks pregnant, in fact. And the baby’s due around 10th September.

It’s a relief to no longer have to cover it up, and it’s exciting to be able to announce it to people. However, it’s a bit odd that something so positive is typically hidden from friends for several months before being suddenly sprung on them.

Ironically, the friends often already know, or at least are pretty suspicious. The signs are everywhere, and good friends tend to notice. Even if there is no morning sickness or change in body shape, the dietary hints are pretty clear. They wonder why a glass of wine, normally happily accepted, is now sadly refused. They ponder why the brie and proscuitto goes uneaten, and perhaps even why the seafood option isn’t chosen from the menu (although that’s never an option for us anyway). And particularly, “women of a certain age” are well attuned to these signs in their friends, but in the end are too polite to ask.

So, those people who we find it so painful to hide the news from are the very people that know anyway. Both parties (us and them) engage in a comedic farce where we all pretend nothing is going on at all, while desperately wanting to speak about it to the other.

But now, released from that cultural prison, I can tell you that I am very pleased (although a bit terrified) about the idea of becoming a dad.