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From Barnes & Noble
The other day I asked a neighbor if her life had changed much now that she had another baby. She looked at me stonily. "Haven't you heard that one plus one equals four?" she asked. "One was manageable. With two, it's all over. I'm a slave." I laughed and pushed my single baby stroller away as fast and politely as I could. I didn't want to hear about it.
Joan Leonard, author of Twice Blessed, wrote her book just for parents like me who are thinking about having a second child -- and who need to know just how insane we are for considering it. Many parents have either blocked out those arduous early months with a newborn (not to mention the nine months before) or just cannot imagine how life could be that different with two. After all, don't we have the hang of it now?
Twice Blessed is an effort to prepare parents for the changes that could hit the unsuspecting like a 68-count bag of wet Huggies. Leonard draws on her own experience as well as the expertise of pediatricians, gynecologists, therapists, and second-time parents across the country. She takes readers from pregnancy through the first year and beyond, offering solid advice along with inspiring, sometimes painfully funny anecdotes about her expanded family. Twice Blessed asks the hard questions about having a second baby, and some of it you might not want to hear. But if you're thinking about it or are already expecting another child, you'll find Twice Blessed a valuable road map for the major changes ahead.
The book is wisely divided into three parts: pregnancy, birth, and life as a family of four. In part one, "Parenting Your First While Expecting Your Second," Leonard writes about preparing yourself, your marriage, and your child for the new baby. "Most studies show that the toughest year in a marriage is after the birth of the second child," Leonard warns. You and your spouse will be more tired and more broke; you'll have more to do and less time to do it in. Help each other now by discussing the things you thought didn't work the first time around, she suggests. What did you do that drove your spouse crazy? What really helped?
Even if as many as 80 percent of us have a brother or a sister, firstborn children are often reluctant to give up the spotlight initially. Leonard was six when her sister was born; though it toppled her from the throne, it also prevented her from becoming, in her mother's words, "a spoiled, impossible, self-absorbed child." To help your child get used to the idea of a sibling, Leonard says, include him in your preparations. "When we bought a double stroller in preparation for my son's birth," she writes, "Annie put her favorite doll in the other seat; when we went on walks she talked to the baby, showing him around the neighborhood."
Leonard discusses general childbirth issues as well as those specific to a second birth: Should you try for a vaginal birth if your first was cesarean? Should you allow your firstborn to attend the delivery? How can parents cope with Second Baby Blues?
In the last section, Leonard takes readers through the chaotic first weeks and months as a family of four. Lean on your friends, Leonard suggests, at least in the early weeks. "The one constant in the first few months with your two children will be its daily unpredictability," she writes; establishing a routine of naps and feeding is one way to give yourself the sense of control you need to stay sane.
Leonard's wry anecdotes about life with her two children are among the highlights of the book. Remember when you wanted to take the baby for a ride and it took an hour to get as far as the door? Now picture this:
Hold the infant seat containing the baby in one hand, clutch the toddler's arm with the other. Carry my purse in my teeth. Open the front door. Sniff. Return to the playroom. Place the toddler in playpen. Unstrap the baby from the infant seat. Carry him to the changing table. Carry him to the front door where the diaper bag is.... Bring the diaper to the changing table while still carrying the baby, but first swing by the playpen to insert Zwieback into screaming toddler's mouth. Change the diaper.
Is anyone really ready for two children? Probably not. And as thorough and practical as this book is, it can't predict everything that will happen to you and your family. What it will do is give an idea of some of the hard work ahead and how best to handle it. In the end, you may even start to understand how sleep deprivation, sibling squabbles, even less sex and less time for yourself can leave you feeling twice blessed.