Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Happy Half Birthday to My Sweet Joanie May

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Joanie woke up early today — 6 AM — after sleeping a full 12 hours straight. Drew got her out of her crib and gave her a bottle and then brought her to me in bed so he could take a shower. Jackson was still asleep, the sun was slowly rising, and in the quiet of the morning I told her the story of her birth, six months ago today. I showed her a few photos of the first moment I saw her, and I reminded her of that night we spent together, just the two of us, in my little hospital room, sometimes sleeping, sometimes nursing, sometimes just being still together. I thought then that she was the sweetest thing I’d ever known. She hardly even cried. And in her tiny face, those big saucer-like eyes locked on mine, as if they’d always known each other. I still think she’s the sweetest thing, and every day I can’t believe she’s mine.

To experience mothering a baby again after the steep learning curve of the first time is one of the biggest gifts and honors of my life (I feel the same about mothering Jackson, too, of course). I struggled so much the first time around and felt like I failed more than I succeeded — so much so, that I didn’t enjoy it as much as it seemed others were enjoying their experience. I didn’t know whether I wanted to try for a second baby and risk the feelings of inadequacy and depression again. Frankly, I didn’t even know if I could handle months of sleepless nights all over again. I agonized over the decision for two years. Drew was always onboard — he very much wanted another baby — but he never pressured me. Still, when you know such a big decision is basically yours to make and that your immediate family members will be so affected by what you decide, the pressure IS great.

What a relief to know, as soon as I met her, that she was the best decision ever and that there could never have been another one with as much joy as she brings us. Happy half birthday to our sweet Joanie May, who has made all of us — Jackson, Drew, and me — feel like the luckiest family ever.

31 comments… add one
  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray January 7, 2016, 3:21 pm

    Happy Half, Joanie May! I hope to meet you one day soon! I got a boy I’d like you to meet. …

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 7, 2016, 5:42 pm

      We’re thinking about a family trip to chicago this summer — it would be so fun to have a DW meetup with the next generation!

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        ktfran January 8, 2016, 9:45 am

        THUMBS UP!

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    Wendy's Sister January 7, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Why you always gotta make me cry? I love that little girl and her big brother and their family!

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  • Lady_Red

    Lady_Red January 7, 2016, 4:19 pm

    Awww, you’re making me want a second kid now! I mean, I’ve always thought I wanted two kids, but I don’t think we’re ready for another baby yet. But this is just so beautifully written. Congratulations on the first 6 months!

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    ktfran January 7, 2016, 4:20 pm

    She’s adorable!

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    Ali January 7, 2016, 5:37 pm

    Thank you for re-linking to your articles about agonizing over having a second child or not. My husband and I are there right now, and have been for the past 6 months. While your articles didn’t give me an answer for me… it made me feel less alone in my panic about figuring this out before I get too old. I think the fear that I have is that my daughter was so easy as an infant and up until this point has been so perfect and really rather easy (although she is now entering her terrible twos). So my biggest fear is that the next one wouldn’t be, and I would struggle with that new difficulty. And really, what I have right now with my husband and daughter is so perfect, feels so wonderful, I am afraid to ruin it. And logically I know those reasons sound crazy, but fears aren’t always rational.

    Anyways, thank you. Your articles, as always, seem to be shared when I need to read something in them most.

    Happy 2016 Wendy and Congrats on the first 6 months with your adorable daughter 🙂

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 7, 2016, 5:41 pm

      I totally hear you and those are very valid concerns! I had the challenging baby first and the easy baby second and I think if you do have two kids, that’s arguably an easier way to do it (ha — like you have a choice!) because though the struggle is intense when you’re a brand new parent and have a challenging baby, at least you’re able to give him or her all your focus. When the challenging one comes second, you have your hands full with the older sibling, too. I have several friends who are in that camp and they are seriously on the verge of nervous breakdowns (their words, not mine). That said, not every parent of two kids has one of each; there’s no reason why you wouldn’t have TWO easy babies! Also, these challenging early years don’t last forever, so there’s that, too.

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        Anonymousse January 8, 2016, 11:13 am

        Congrats to Joanie and your family! You make it look easy. And she is just absolutely adorable.
        I don’t know how I feel about two right now. It’s so hard! My first guy is a daredevil and so much fun and was tricky, only in the sense he was the first. Now with a second, it’s just so different for me. I love my new little, but I miss spending all my time with my son. Which reads horrible, and kind of selfish, written down. And my little girl is very fussy and colicky right now, so it’s hard to enjoy a lot of the time I spend with her right now. I know when she’s older, it will be easier and they will be able to have fun together.
        It is amazing to see how excited and in love he is with her, albeit a little too rough.

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        Ali January 8, 2016, 6:23 pm

        That doesn’t sound awful because that is what I worry about. My daughter is a momma’s girl and I love our moments playing toys together or reading. And there would be less of that.

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        Anonymousse January 8, 2016, 9:50 pm

        Yeah, it’s hard. And RR is right. We wanted two, but I do miss just having one sometimes. I feel more attached to him. I’m sure it’s because he’s walking and interactive and fun…and she’s a little cute pupae all tightly wrapped in a swaddle. I feel terrible saying things like this, but it’s true. And it’s also strange with a second because with your first baby, you are experiencing everything for the first time. I took a zillion pictures (sometimes ten of the same expression he was making) and you text or call everytime they do something that your partner misses. With the second, for us, for me, it’s just..not the same excitement. Of course, mine are 17 months apart, so it all happened very recently. I’m trying to treasure this time. But I’m so excited for when they are old enough to play together!

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        RedRoverRedRover January 9, 2016, 1:05 pm

        I worry about this too, and my gap between them is going to be 3 years. One big difference for me though will be that we’re keeping the older one in daycare, at least part-time, because we don’t want to take him out for a year and then put him back in. He’s got his routine now and we don’t want to upset it too much. So I think that’ll give me more time to bond with the new one alone, which is nice.

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        RedRoverRedRover January 8, 2016, 11:49 am

        I think that one can go either way… my best friend had her easy one first, and now the easy one helps with the hard one. she’s so good, she helps teach the younger one and keep him in line. And her mom is able to give the challenging one the focus he needs. Whereas the other way round, you’ve got to deal with a challenging toddler and a newborn at the same time. That’s what I’m worried about. My son takes 100% focus, still. How am I going to give the newborn any attention?

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        Anonymousse January 8, 2016, 5:00 pm

        Well, at 18 months he tries to help. Lol. It is hard to have two under two. But all my mommy books say, if the older one is needing attention, give it unless the newborn absolutely needs you, because the older child will remember while the newborn won’t.
        I think I’m still sad that our relationship has changed. When he came to visit me in the hospital, after the first night of me ever being away from him for that long, he would barely look at me. He was definitely angry at me and the new baby for awhile. He’s over that, but I still don’t get as much time with him, and he has completely turned into daddy’s little boy. I mourn the change. I am amazed though, at his wisdom. He acts out for attention sometimes, but when I am really struggling with the new baby, he is so well behaved and actually does try to figure out what’s wrong or how to help.

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        RedRoverRedRover January 8, 2016, 7:01 pm

        My friend’s was only 16 months or so, and of course for the first few months she couldn’t help much. But like you say, she seemed to have an awareness of when her mom needed to do something with the baby. Whereas with my challenging little guy, I can’t even imagine that. Maybe he will, I hope so, he’ll be 3 when my second is born so maybe that will help.
        .
        But for example, while she was pregnant my friend “trained” her daughter to walk beside her on the sidewalk when they went out for walks, because she knew that once she had a baby in a stroller she wouldn’t be able to hang on to her daughter’s hand as easily or give her undivided attention. I can’t even do that with my son now, at 2.5! And I’ll be dealing with him running off while I have a newborn, whereas she had a placid little one walking next to her. I know the grass is always greener, it just seems to me that the way she had it would be easier than dealing with my guy and a newborn.

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        Anonymousse January 8, 2016, 9:41 pm

        I have heard girls are easier…less curious and adventurous? I can’t even imagine a child walking calmly beside me on the street. That’s impressive.

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        RedRoverRedRover January 9, 2016, 1:03 pm

        I know right??!?! Although it’s not necessarily gendered, I think that’s often confirmation bias. All my mom’s kids except one were pretty placid as little ones. And my husband was his mom’s easiest one, easier than his sister. And his sister has a super-easy second baby, a boy, who’s happy to just hang out and do whatever. Same with a friend of mine. Whereas another friend has a girl who’s basically a little monkey, all over everything all the time. 🙂 I think when we see what we expect, we attribute it to gender, and when we don’t, it’s an exception.
        .
        Anyway, my next one’s a girl, so we’ll see. But my mom also said second ones tend to be calmer just because they don’t get so much attention. They learn pretty fast that every little cry doesn’t get you running (because you’re often having to watch the first too). So they don’t do it as much. Fingers crossed! 🙂

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        Ali January 8, 2016, 6:26 pm

        Thanks. You are right and these are all good points to consider. More to think about and discuss with my husband I suppose.

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        RedRoverRedRover January 8, 2016, 7:03 pm

        The other thing to consider is, what do you want as an end result? In five years, do you want to have one kid or two? That’s how I made my decision. I’m not looking forward to the tough beginning years of having a newborn and toddler, but I do want two kids, so I’ve gotta get through this part first. 🙂

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 8, 2016, 9:34 am

      Often each child is difficult in their own way at their own time.

      My son was the oldest and a pretty easy baby but an energetic toddler who couldn’t be left alone for a moment, meaning me in the next room or upstairs when he was downstairs. He was incredibly curious and could put himself into dangerous situations pretty quickly. His motor skills were way ahead of where they should have been for his age so he could manipulate things that most kids couldn’t. He could open doors and unlock locks and so could get himself outside at 17 months. He could remove the child safety device from the VCR so that had to be kept where he couldn’t put his hand inside it which needed to be done so that kids wouldn’t cut off their fingers by pushing a button with a hand inside. He put beans in his ears and had to be taken to the emergency room. He fell off an exercise bike and needed stitches in his hand. It was always something. He could also unlock the strap of his stroller as a toddler and would leap out and disappear under racks of clothes. Shopping with him could be a nightmare.

      Our daughter was the second child. She was a much more irritable baby. She was fussy and gassy and a finicky eater. She cried nonstop whenever she was in a moving car until she we were able to move her out of the infant car seat. We think that was because she was full of gas and it hurt. The regular car seat had her sitting up and then she was fine. She needed far more soothing as an infant but she was a much easier toddler. She didn’t care to unlock doors or try to play with electronics. Her interests were much safer. She didn’t dart away in stores which he did all the time.

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      • Portia

        Portia January 8, 2016, 9:57 am

        Haha, that sounds like me and my sister, almost to a T! My parents still love telling the story of when before I could walk I silently found my way out of my crib (sides still up and everything) and crawled into the living room like it was NBD. To this day they have no idea how I managed it.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 8, 2016, 11:21 am

        That makes me laugh. That is so like my son. Constantly doing things. He was curious and wanted to explore the world, hands on. He just had no clue that it could be dangerous.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark January 7, 2016, 5:50 pm

    Already?! Crazy! Time flies! Give my best to Joanie!

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    Stillrunning January 7, 2016, 5:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing your sweet morning with Joanie on her half birthday. That was really lovely.

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    keyblade January 7, 2016, 6:00 pm

    What an enjoyable homage! Happy six months to Joanie and her family.

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  • Pamplemousse Rose

    Pamplemousse Rose January 7, 2016, 7:19 pm

    This was a lovely read Wendy, and very timely for me. My second is due on Sunday and I sometimes still wonder if it was the right decision. Reading this is reassuring, so thank you. And a very happy half-birthday to Joanie!

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny January 7, 2016, 8:02 pm

    Aw, this is really sweet. And Joanie is so sweet! Those cheeks! Happy half birthday, Joanie!

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    d2 January 7, 2016, 11:19 pm

    Halfy Birthday!

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  • gigi

    gigi January 8, 2016, 9:02 am

    She is so precious – Happy half-birthday Joanie!

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    girltuesday January 8, 2016, 11:52 am

    She is beautiful, Wendy! Happy half BD!

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana January 8, 2016, 12:11 pm

    She is very adorable! Happy half birthday baby girl. Congrats and I am so glad the second was the right choice for you.

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