Afraid of the reality of two

Kiss for baby sister.

Kiss for baby sister. A rare gentle moment.

When I was pregnant with Leopold, I was counting down the weeks, days, and months for him to arrive. I just couldn’t wait to finally start parenting a child, our child, after so many years of trying to get and stay pregnant. I was excited and slightly scared of some little things (like how would the dog do with the baby? would I be able to breastfeed?) but for the most part, I was just thrilled to welcome him home and actually be a mom.

This time? This time I’m scared. I’m truly savoring these last months as a family of three of only having one child vying for my attention. I’m excited for this summer of adventures, just me and my little fun-loving toddler and I’m terrified of how things will be when a little baby joins us in October. A winter trapped inside the house with me, a giant toddler, a giant dog and an infant scare me to death. I know I am so lucky to be here, pregnant with number two, I fought so hard for it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world but damn I am scared of the reality of parenting two kids.

Logically, I know we will adjust and Leopold will get the hang of it. But I am so scared of Leopold hurting the baby. He’s a rough and tumble boy, all 34 pounds and 38 inches of him. He’s freaking strong, fast, and he’s crazy. When we were coming home from Orlando, he ran over to a 6 month old baby sitting in a stroller and smacked him on the head. I was busy getting my shoes, crap together coming through the belt from security and couldn’t stop him. At his birthday party, he must have scratched my month old nephew in the face. I’m not sure what happened exactly, I was doing dishes in the kitchen, Leopold was in the living room with my BIL and SIL and their baby. I heard a scuffle and look up to see my SIL turned away with the baby, SIL crying and BIL talking to Leopold. I tried to ask what happened and they didn’t really want to talk about it they were so upset with whatever had happened.

Icing on the shitastic cake, I took Leopold to a library playtime on Monday morning. He kicked a 3 month old (I’m guessing here) in the head. The baby was just laying on the floor and my son walked up and kicked her in the head. I was mortified, upset, and horrified. I apologized to the Mom, dragged my kid out to discipline him, then came back in and apologized more and to check on the baby. Thankfully, the baby was just fine, but I sobbed nonetheless and I just felt so awful. I don’t want to be constantly protecting my baby from Leopold. I want him to be a nurturing, loving big bro, but the more times we see babies the less likely I think that is to happen. Each experience he seems to do something more awful and inexplicable. ย I know he’ll get the hang of it eventually, but this isn’t a big dog that can just roll with the punches. This will be a little infant baby girl that it is my job to protect and nurture. I don’t want to live every day in fear that Leopold is going to hurt her. I need to be able to care for both of them and I want to be able to parent her as I did Leopold (lots of tummy time early on), put her in a swing without fearing that my son will go up and smack her in the face.

What am I going to do, lock Leopold away in his room if I want to put baby girl down for a minute? How long until he learns what is okay and not okay to do with a baby? How will I not go insane between sleep deprivation and playing umpire between a tiny, defenseless baby and a toddler who wants to get into everything. Will he ever learn to be gentle and sweet to a baby? We’ve been working on the gentle thing forever with various things, the dog, babies we meet, etc, and unless I am holding his hand and controlling his movements, he just doesn’t get it. He smacks, he hits, he kicks, he thrashes. Nothing he does is gentle.

We’ve also been talking a lot about baby sister and where she’ll sleep, how she’ll eat, etc. He seems to be getting it somewhat, yesterday he pointed to the toddler bed and said “baby sister’s bed.” We told him over the weekend he would be moving rooms and would soon get the big bed while baby sister would get his room. He seems to be getting it so, I just need to get the rooms set and start bringing a doll out at times to talk about how to touch, treat, etc, baby sister.

Anyway, yes I am so excited, but I am also terrified of what our reality will be in October. I know I won’t know how it goes until it gets here, but man with all of these bad experiences with babies lately I am pretty terrified. I know he likes babies, but I don’t understand why he is so rough with them. I know I need to teach him how to act, but I hate thinking of what our tiny newborn is going to have to go through before he gets it. I’m hoping him being 4 months older will make a big difference, but I am scared, oh man am I scared.

I’ll just keep staring at the picture I posted above and pretending Leopold is that sweet all the time. GULP.



14 thoughts on “Afraid of the reality of two

  1. My neighbor’s two year old twins took to their new sister very differently. The girl was sweet, and the boy was a little rough. They’re all fine now, and baby is perfectly happy and healthy! You never know with these kids. Matthew loves all babies and treats them very gently, while our niece is still a brute at age 4. She has to be watched at every moment – but it’s OK and we all just know to be mindful when she’s around.

    We practiced with a fake baby early, then relied on the neighbor’s baby (ha!), but decided this morning to get fake baby out again tonight. We are going to tell Matthew at book time that mommy is with baby, but will be in soon. We’re trying to role play in these final two weeks. We’ll see how it goes. I think getting fake baby out will be good for L.

    Do you have friends with newborns you can practice with? I really think that helps.

  2. Ohhhh, it’s hard for me to imagine, considering my two will barely go up and say hi to another kid let alone smack em, but I just wanted to validate your worries. I think it’s completely normal to wonder how a child will react to a new sibling, including the “rough” aspect. He may also be very different with a baby who is “his”, ya know? I truly hope for your sake that he adjusts quickly and is more gentle than you expect. It’s certainly possible!

  3. There is a line in a poem, I cannot remember the title, which says “it is a well known fact that second babies are a lot less breakable than the first”. I remember having my second (I had four) and thinking just as you are about my daughter. I went in one day and she was holding her two week old brother in her arms. She was three. When she saw me she threw him on the floor in fright! He didn’t even cry! All will be fine,

  4. Love that picture. Love that belly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m busting out of hibernation here to say a few things:
    1)You are gonna have to wear yo’ baybee. It is necessary for wrangling all the things. Added bonus: it greatly reduces your rambunctious toddler’s opportunities to cannonball your infant.

    2)L is probably going to cannonball your lady baby. More than once. She will be okay. One day I laid my freshly bathed, infant down on the couch on a towel, turned my back to stuff a pocket diaper for one second, heard Arlo yell “HEY, THAT’S MY TOWEL!!!” and turned around just in time to see him yank the towel right out from under Audie. It was kind of like that failed tablecoth trick, except instead of broken plates and cutlery on the floor it was my newborn. There she was, naked as the day she was born, on her belly with all her limbs folded awkwardly under her. I picked her up and her face clearly read WHATTHEFUCKWASTHAT. She never cried. Your lady baby and my lady baby? They are going to be strong girls. Arlo has stepped on her stomach, bitten her, poked her in the eye with all sorts of things. It happens, it pisses you off, you remember that your kid is just a normal kid exploring cause and effect, you take deep breaths, you talk AD NAUSEUM about being gentle and do your best to stoke your toddler’s sense of empathy, and ten minutes later you do it all again. You will learn to anticipate most shenanigans. If L is anything like Arlo, you will have lots of opportunities to hone this skill.

    3)L’s behavior with littler ones sounds pretty normal to me. I think it has everything to do with exploring boundaries and cause and effect. Yes, you feel like you have THE only toddler pulling that shizz, but you don’t. I can’t tell you how many playdates I’ve escorted my kid out of for pushing/hitting/crocodile rolling/clotheslining/etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve silently called my kid an asshole for the stuff he does. It gets better. L is not mean-spirited. He is going to freakin’ love his sister. The first thing Arlo asks to do when he wakes up every morning, without fail, is hold Audie. He cuddles her, calls her sweet names, and my heart melts, and then he pokes her in the eye and she cries.


    • I was basically going to leave the same comment but I’m glad R beat me to it. Although HGB prefers head-butting and jumping on MJB’s belly, but he does it gently sort of. When he met MJB he kissed him followed by an open handed smack. Overall, he is 90% loving, 10% too rough but with 0% malice. I have a feeling Leo will be similar. They’re learning… sllllooooooowlllly. I sent an email with an article I can’t find on my phone anymore, but it made me feel a little better. I suppose it’s a crash course in teaching them how to treat others, just with All the Stress!

      It’s a steep learning curve, but what will shock you more than how he might hit her is how much love he will shower on her. That’s a guarantee.

  5. The other mamas comments above sound perfect to me. It sounds like others have been there and… they are OK! ๐Ÿ™‚ Just like you and L and baby girl will be. Try not to worry too much because it really will be fine. L may be a little rough but he isn’t out of the ordinary for a toddler boy. Think of alllllll the toddler boys in the world who welcomed baby sisters… myself being one of those little sisters to a 2 year old brother at the time of my birth. I am pretty sure I am tougher now because of it too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I’m glad everyone thinks it will be okay. I’m with you in the “good lord how am I going to manage?” phase–alternating with the “please please please let this really happen” phase. You’re a great mom and you will figure it out. Which doesn’t mean it will always be easy or smooth, just that it will be okay even if L is rough sometimes. Also, a lot of my friends with two have said that first baby wound up taking out a lot of the aggression and frustration on mama instead of new baby. That sounds sucky, too, but bearable. So maybe you’ll have that experience!


    It will be okay! The others have summed it up pretty well, so I don’t have much to add. Just wanted to chime in that things are A-OK with our two kid house too. Plus, remember how much older L is going to be in October. That’s four months – kids this age change SO MUCH in that amount of time.

  8. All of these ladies have excellent tips! Excellent. I hope that they were helpful because I can’t really add anything here. But I will definitely be thinking about you and your family and you make the transition. And also, so sorry about those situations with strangers. That sounds tough. I remember when my brother was two, he went up to a baby in the grocery store and bit him on the cheek. He broke his skin and the baby was bleeding. It was HORRIBLE. I was only five and I remember it. I can’t even imagine how bad it was for my mom. I only tell this story to let you know that you’re not alone in this…and my brother turned out just fine. (-:

  9. Pingback: The Monday Snapshot(s): 31 weeks or lady baby prep edition | Mellow in the Midwest

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