Tempered Enthusiasm


I remember when we told everyone we were expecting our first child. It was spectacular. Everyone was so happy. And not just feigned happiness either, I’m talking zippety-doo-da, nitrous oxide overload happy. The plethora of reactions when you tell loved ones you’re pregnant for the first time include just some of the following:

THE SORORITY SCREAM: This (usually) happens when the expectant mother tells her female friends she’s pregnant for the first time. The result is an ungodly, shrieking, shrill sound that only women seem to be able to produce. They hold hands, hug and then jump up and down screaming like friggin’ banshees to the point where you need to block your ears for safety reasons. It is heart-warming, yet truly frightening all at the same time.

THE WATERWORKS: You’ve all seen this one. You tell someone you’re pregnant with your first kid and they immediately break down in tears of joy. The faucet gets turned on and there’s no stopping it. They cry, they hug you, they ask a few questions, they cry and then they hug you again. It’s actually very cute.

STUNNED SILENCE: This one is probably my favorite, if only because it elicits what I feel is the most genuine reaction of them all. You tell someone you’re pregnant and they’re so taken aback, they have absolutely no idea what to say or do. It takes a good 2-3 minutes for them to realize what it is you’re telling them, and still they have to ask you 3-4 times “Are you serious? Seriously??”

Whether they scream, jump up and down or give you 5,000 hugs, it’s always momentous and it’s clear that what’s happening is a big freaking deal.

But the second kid? Not so much.

Seriously, no one gives a shit that you’re pregnant for a second time. I mean sure they care and they’re happy for you. But they’re not thrilled. They’re not orgasmic with joy over your impending bundle of same. It’s more like “Nice, congratulations” or “Cool. Good for you guys.” But when you’re used to all the fanfare, it’s a marked departure from the first time.

And I guess that makes sense. It’s like a football team that surprised everyone and is just happy to be playing in the Super Bowl, compared to the squad of seasoned veterans who have won the big game in the past.  Act like you’ve been there before.

And perhaps the funniest thing was my two co-workers getting drunk one night about a month ago (before we announced the news) and telling me how “fucking crazy” I was for even thinking about having another one. It’s OK Jake and Steph, I had similar thoughts myself.

Not to mention when you think about it, it’s more than a little creepy at how excited everyone gets for a pregnancy. Really. People are congratulating you and saying “Nice job buddy.” Essentially they’re giving me props for having functional sperm, and praising MJ for her ability to produce an egg that is capable of being fertilized. And they’re openly cheering us for having sex, which I think is a little personal. They might as well be saying “Yeah! Nice job on ejaculating inside of your wife and depositing your sperm in such fashion as they infiltrated her fertile egg.”

I’m getting off track.

I realized my biggest worry is that I’M not as excited as I was the first time around. I know what to expect this time. I’m a grizzled veteran. I’ve been through the OB/GYN appointments, the ultrasounds, the big belly, the mood swings and the actual birth itself. And yes, I know a monkey wrench can be thrown into the process and that no two pregnancies are ever the same. But that’s for the mom. Here in DadLand we have a slightly more hands-off role until the baby is born. And while I know this won’t hold true, I just can’t imagine loving anybody or anything as much as I do Will.

Parents of more than one, did you have similar feelings? And what was it like when the second one was born?

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12 thoughts on “Tempered Enthusiasm

  1. People were cool when we had our second together.. it was 2 years after our daughter.. but when we got pregnant with our second daughter 3 months after our son was born… crickets.. when 5 months after she was born and we were pregnant AGAIN.. people were upset at us and told us they were not happy about it.

    It wasn’t that I wasnt happy with each new one.. I just worried about how are we going to do it..So far we’re doing okay.. they’re all fed and healthy.. i can’t go on any cruises or anything or even get a baby sitter.. but I am happy with my family.. it wouldn’t feel complete without each of them..

    But congrats still.. Even if it takes a while to accept the reality…

  2. I was much more concerned about our daughter and how her life would be changing with the arrival of our son than I was excited about our 2nd. I had a lot of guilt about not having enough time for her. In theory we wanted another one but at the same time we weren’t looking forward to actual labor and the first few months of adjustments (no sleep, nursing, a billion diapers etc). We are totally happy we have a son (2 weeks old now) but it was not the same experience having our 2nd as it was with our 1st.

  3. OK..I know your not going to expect this from a Mom (Especially this Mom) but I felt the same way..maybe the same way times a billion!

    I was so underwhelmed (I mean I was excited that we were having another one) the little things that were such a huge deal the first time around where more noted but they were stuck into my other wise busy day. Of course I felt weird and guilty about it and ultimately came to the conclusion that we’ve been here before. The end result excluded it was “routine”. Oh and that whole I can’t imagine loving some one as much as kiddo #1 I think everyone feels that way and then out comes #2 and bam it feels like they’ve always been there.

  4. As a father of an almost 2-months-old, it’s fresh enough for me to comment. First of all, yep–other people weren’t as excited. Fair enough. There was no longer a first-time grandma, no longer a first baby on the block, no more “everything is about to change” attitude people could see on our faces. So people were happy for us, but that was about it.

    More importantly, things were different with us, but I wouldn’t say more, or less. Just different. We knew what we were getting into (even if a second baby was a “game changer”). But I also felt that a second baby was going to change us from being a couple with a kid to a family, which was just as big a change as the one we had with the first child.

    And even more importantly–maybe the only important thing here–at two months she is already as important to us as he is. She opens her eyes and she looks at us and she needs us… And you know love is all about feeling needed. And here’s a bonus you get with the second child: we see the two of them together and we realize the two of us have a “look.”

    Good luck. And if I haven’t said it before, Congratulations!

  5. I hear you on that one. We only have the one, but don’t expect much fanfare when #2 comes along.

    I don’t get excited so much about other folks #2 either, unless it is a buddy who is now having a first son. Not sure why, other than that I love my son so much that I want him to share the same joy.

  6. Congratulations on the impending arrival of #2. I was there a long, long time ago but I remember secretly wondering how on earth I was going to love #2 as much as I loved #1. I mean, really – how much love can one person give out? I will admit that the thunderous rush of love did not hit me when #2 was born. Is that awful for a mom to admit? I was happy to have her, but I didn’t get that overwhelming rush of maternal whatever-it-is that I had when my first daughter was born. It took a couple of months to kick in for some reason. But when it did finally kick in (when the exhaustion lifted?), it was just as powerful. I have three kids now and each and every one is loved completely and unconditionally. As long as their rooms are clean 😉

  7. I know exactly how y9ou feel – been there, done that. I can’t really explain how it changes when the second baby is born – but it does. It is different in terms of how you prepare and how you kind of expect things this time. But one thing doesn’t change – that moment when you see this child you helped bring into the world. At that moment, you just know. You don’t try and know, you don’t work at it, you don’ thave to do anything to prepare for it. It just happens. You suddenly and unconditionally love this one just as much. I can’t explain it, and I will never convince you until you go through it. But it is not just parental bullshit, it is real.

  8. I wasn’t as excited about my second one either. I mean, I was happy and wanted/loved the baby just as much as the first. But that was tempered with the knowledge of all the not-so-great things that come along with a newborn. Yes, they are small and adorable and completely lovable. But they also cry a lot, poop a gazillion times a day, keep you up all night and make sex a near impossibility. The first time around you get all the “you are going to LOVE being a parent, it’s the greatest thing EVER” and no one tells you about all the “less than wonderful” that comes with it. The second time you are going in with your eyes wide open to all the stress that accompanies that awesomeness that is a newborn.

    Also? I think you have the best dad ever. Just saying.

  9. Thanks everyone. Glad to know I’m not alone in feeling less than enthralled this time around. I’m sure my excitement level will pick up as this progresses, but you all are in right in that before all I could think about was how cool it would be to have a kid and how cute he/she would be. Now I’m thinking about diaper changes, late nights, babyproofing the house again for a newborn, and the tedious aspects of infant care.

    I just hope this one doesn’t have colic. I can’t take that shit.

  10. When your first child is born, you immediately love them in a more powerful love than you ever know existed. When the 2nd is on the way, we worry that we won’t love them as much or that we will always love the first more because we can’t imagine anyone as awesome in our hearts as the 1st.
    The truth is that when the second is born, you won’t have to split the love that you have in 1/2. Amazingly and unexpectedly, your love doubles itself. Once again, in a way that is so powerful that you didn’t even know that it could exist.
    It’s an incredible phenomenon.

  11. you want fanfare with a second pregnancy?

    then have the second pregnancy involve triplets. that’ll get you fanfare. only no sorority scream reaction. more like the “stunned silence” w/ a quarter cup of “look at the freaks who gestate like dogs.” (did i use gestate correctly?)

    the second (or in our case, the second, third, and fourth) of anything is a good thing. Pookie (our first) was pampered beyond belief. we’re seeing it just now at age 8 (almost 9), especially when compared to her friends who weren’t the firstborn. our guys? hell, we’re just pumped up if they’re not off juggling steak knives. no over-freaking out when they skin their knee or have to miss a nap.

    not saying you’re like this, but am saying that with repetition comes knowledge — trained muscle movement, like a golf swing. you may not be as excited, but i guarantee you groove it, brother.

    also, i get the skepticism of being able to love someone as much as you do will. i felt that w/ the triplets vs. pookie. i also worried about being able to love four as effectively as i had loved one.

    wrong in both cases. i love each of my children uniquely–perfectly, even. and there’s plenty to go around. love is infinite. and no matter how many times you divide it, you still get infinity.

    i’m really, really, really fired up for you, MJ, and will. solid effort in the sex category, bro. way to drop the HAMMA. you really delivered.

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