second baby, aren't you here yet?
Within a week of learning that we had a second baby coming,
the rest of the world had been called up, emailed, or accosted
at parks and restaurants and shared the wonderful news with.
The flip side of that, it is such stale news now that people
expect the minikid to have tumbled out, to have been weaned
off the bottle and to have been readied for the playschool
interview. Public memory is short; patience with other people's
lives unless there is some juicy tidbits to munch on, even
shorter. And I don't blame them. After all, you can't expect
them to keep asking the same 'So how is it coming along? How
much more time to go?' forever.
second baby, be prepared to come into this world unsung.
the wonderful news spread around the respective families back
home, the jubilations notwithstanding, the mood was in no
way as exultant as it had been with a similar news four years
ago. Feel the difference between, "O you wonderful children!
God bless you! The best gift you could have given to us old
people now! Now be careful and don't you tell anyone yet…"
and "That's great news. Take care, and you know what
to do"? If you can't, you probably haven't had a second
times, the sheer feeling of neglect can be depressing. Look
at my friends: the first time round, I used to receive frequent
emails from my friends wanting to get updates. The lull this
time after the initial round of congratulatory messages speaks
of the hours they themselves would be spending on changing
diapers and bringing their own children back from karate classes
or painting lessons. My own parents discuss everything else
going on in the world before doing the perfunctory "all's
well on the baby front?" before disconnecting the phone
second baby, it's not just the others who do this with you…
why blame the others: the initial news having sunk in, what
immediately raced through my mind were the not-so-elegant
images of labour, pain, the countless sleepless nights, and
the inevitability of it all!
amount of joyous anticipation and preparation that usually
goes into getting the first child into this world is something
parents cherish for life. In our case, I used to maintain
meticulous records for my scrap albums: everything from the
small chits carrying the list of questions to ask the doctor
on each visit, to an embarrassingly high frequency of pictures
clicked by the father of his beloved wife's progress, to even
weekly monitoring of weight, food, and mood.
this case, during the earlier months (before the massive blows
had started, that is), I would forget on several occasions
that I was carrying. The mind would be too preoccupied fretting
over the first one not eating, not sleeping, or not behaving.
The father reluctantly pulled out the camera upon repeated
reminders from me that soon this pregnancy would be over without
even one photograph of mine in this state. That too, when
he realised that the fungus-coated film loaded in the camera
(we haven't gone digital yet) for ages needed to be pulled
out quickly, or else some precious photographs clicked earlier
would be lost forever.
O second baby, even Dr. Spock forgets educating us about you.
is an abysmal shortage of literature on 'second pregnancies'.
Somehow, it is assumed that as a veteran, you don't need to
refer to those valuable bits of information that come in handy
in the face of a barrage of untested old grandmother's advice.
My Google search for 'second pregnancies' yielded seven useless
results, after which the search engine got tired and reverted
to the tried and tested 'did you mean first pregnancies?'
second baby, you shall not crave the NEW. Nothing new was
ever made keeping you in mind.
son is already putting away all his broken toys for the minikid.
Any piece of junk or once-favourite clothes that have lost
their appeal to him are automatically being shoved into this
big carton that he calls the chhotu baby box. So much for
big brotherly affection! And don't you charge the first-borns
(I have had the privilege of being one) with 'foul play';
they always keep the interest of the subsequent siblings paramount
in mind, but are still misunderstood for it.
second baby, the curse of comparisons will never leave you…
one doesn't have to wait for the baby to be born for the inevitable
comparisons with the older child to happen. Already, people
around me have heard it enough number of times how this minikid
behaves differently than the first one when he was in. But
O second baby, do not despair. We promise we will love you…just
the same as the earlier one (hate to write that minikiddy,
but there will be no stand-alone situations for you…).
Or we will certainly do our best.
second baby, we know you will be a survivor; and you will
do it on your own…
begin with, your mother will make sure you don't cling to
her dupatta in public. Soon enough, you'll learn
to fend for yourself. Which also means learning to grab a
fair share of the ice cream that your big brother may be unwilling
to share. Life is unfair, and this unfairness starts at home…but
you will survive.
second baby, there's no point kidding. Let's face it. If you
had had a choice, you would not have willingly been a second
(R) thedailystar.net 2005