Freddy's blog: The second coming

The second time definitely feels different. My wife and I are just under two months away from the birth of our second daughter. Our first is coming up for 3 and a half and is looking forward to welcoming a new sister. We’ll soon see whether she really gets the message about the baby not being able to follow the rules of her games, or even play the games.

We’ve spent a lot of time wondering whether the rules of the game will be the same for raising the new one. The first time we were two months away, we’d had the name and the pet name agreed – even public – for some time. This time we’re not sure, and it’s the first thing on which we’re trying to learn not to judge the way we treat the second against the way we treated the first. I’ve learned not to feel guilty about it, but I know my wife is finding it harder.

I’ve been spending a lot of time painting the new nursery. Partly because I had to turn a lime green room with plenty of cracks in a Victorian house around this time, compared to a light grey room in a new build flat last time. But partly because life is so much fuller now – in good ways because we have a home and a lifestyle we really want and in bad ways because there is so much to do to keep it all running.

The nursery will be filled predominantly with furniture, clothes and toys that belonged to our first daughter. That makes complete (financial and logistical) sense, but you feel a little guilt that everything isn’t new.

And the experience isn’t new either. I know that overall I haven’t been as engaged as a father-to-be the second time. I think a little bit of that is complacency: I’ve done it before, with complications, and we all survived. Although the idea of a repeating those complications has honestly made me reluctant, even scared, to think about what could happen this time. I’ve also had so much in my head through a difficult year at work and a busy year at home, and of course I don’t have the connection in the body that my wife and the baby have.

So we’ve spent a lot of words, far more than the 380 I’ve written here so far, on worrying that our new daughter has already been put in that position of being second in every way.

And it’s time to change the way we’re playing the game. We started hypnobirthing classes recently, in someone’s stiflingly hot lounge with one other couple. As well as beginning its intended job of preparing my wife for a calm birth, it also brought back so many good memories of the first birth: our time in the hospital (we were the posh ones with a Tupperware of homemade flapjack while everyone else had KFC – this was Stevenage), how my wife was during the birth (a completely different human being – neither nicer nor meaner, just different), how proud I was of her for doing something that sounds so quotidian but is so magnificent, that feeling of holding my daughter for the first time and then driving home as carefully as I could possibly drive. 

It will be different this time. It’s different for me as a dad, different for my wife, new for our daughter, and probably very exciting for our puppy (as everything is). We’ll have completed our family. It’ll be the first time we can put everybody first.

Freddy works in communications at trade association in the City, except on Friday afternoons when he takes his three-year old daughter swimming.

Category: A Cityfather's Diary

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