It has been so funny/wonderful/eye-opening to see Grace interact with Violet in these early weeks. Grace has done so well; I think I mentioned this before but she has reacted with affection and tenderness and enthusiasm. A bit too much enthusiasm sometimes, but with all the possibilities I can contemplate, I will not complain. She hasn't been jealous when I'm nursing (which I was somewhat nervous about considering that Grace herself was nursing until, oh, about 8 months before Violet was born) and has never demanded that I put Violet down so I can hold her and has not indulged in negative attention-getting behaviors. Grace flipped out a tiny bit the very first day we were all home from the hospital but again, when I think about the broad spectrum of how she could have reacted, I realize I am very lucky. I don't know how much of this is her age, her innate personality, her sex, and/or how our parenting choices have affected her, but whatever the causes, she has been hyper-nurturing kissy involved Grace.
This has come as a bit of a relief to me, because at the very end of my pregnancy, I was feeling some angst about the changes that were coming to Grace's life. We had spent almost 3 years as a happy threesome, or most days just her and me as a twosome absorbed in our life together, and I felt melancholy about that stage of our life ending. I mourned for her not getting our undivided attention and time and I mourned for me not getting to spend as much time enjoying who she is, for maybe missing something beautiful and amazing about who she is becoming because of being busy with the new baby. Megan wrote a post at 5 Minutes for Parenting about her older daughter in light of her 2nd baby being born; it was posted 7 days before Violet was born and I literally cried in my crazed hormonal fog about the ending of Grace's time as an only child. And then on Grace's last day of preschool before Christmas break, I FORGOT TO PICK HER UP, so that made me feel even more weepy and mournful about failing my firstborn, as you can imagine. Actually, I didn't so much forget; rather, I failed to wake up from a nap because I set my alarm for 2am instead of 2pm. I woke up in a groggy panic, realizing that her school pick-up time had ended 30 minutes ago. Not good. Anyway, seeing Grace happy and excited about change in our family (and managing to not abandon her anywhere) has brought that sadness to a close in some ways, and her manic affection has given me a new understanding about Grace's life having more love, more richness, and more connections because of the tiny person who is linked to us all.
I've also been thinking about what the experience of having a 2nd baby has been like for me. People have asked me if it's easier because I've done this before, or if it's harder because of having a busy toddler to care for, or if I'm enjoying it more because I have less anxiety over every little thing, and I'm not exactly sure how to answer them. I suppose the answer is "yes" to all of those questions at some level. I really liked what Amy at Amalah wrote about having her 2nd son. (An astronomy metaphor, no less...) With Violet, it's all the same as with Grace-- her rosebud mouth and ears like perfect pink shells, her serious wonderment at our faces, her hands waving through the air like she lives underwater. But at the same time, it's all different-- her blessedly peaceful sleeping habits, the reflux and the never-ever pooping, the specific way she likes to be worn in the sling, and the particular way she shudders and squawks in hungry relief when she starts to nurse.