After sharing how sweet and cute Ellie has been with Chloe so far, I know what you’re probably thinking. “See, I told you the jealousy would set in. The rainbows and unicorns wouldn’t last forever. She’s two and half years old, what did you expect?”
I’d like to say you are right. But I’m not talking about Ellie’s jealously, I’m talking about mine.
When Ellie was born she needed me. She was not (and still isn’t) the best sleeper. If she was crying and nursing her didn’t calm her down, soothing her became an art and a science. You needed a dual degree to win at soothing her. And I earned that degree. I knew how to hold her, how to rock her, what to say, what song to play, or what to sing. And if my methods failed, I tried and tried and tried until something worked. Midnight car rides up and down the highway, twilight dance sessions to the Beatles, I did it all. I worked hard, but I succeeded.
Not only did Ellie need me, but Aya needed me too. She struggled with some postpartum depression and really had some hardships welcoming a new baby into our lives. If she was up at night to nurse, I was right there with her. If she wanted Donuts at 3am, I went to get them (I may have gotten a few for myself). If she needed alone time, I’d take Ellie out by myself for a few hours. Everything was new to us and 100% of our attention was on Ellie.
So of course with TWO kids, things are going to be difficult, right?
But so far with Chloe, things have been completely 100 percent different than with Ellie. Chloe literally eats and sleeps. Her cry is a squeak and when you pick her up she stops crying. Chloe is so much “easier” we are almost worried. “It can’t be like this?” we ask ourselves. So easy in fact that Aya doesn’t need my help in the middle of the night.
I wake up feeling rested, guilty and a little useless.
When I wake up I’m surprised that the sun is out. I look over at Aya who’s just starting to open her eyes as Chloe lies asleep in her arms. “How was the night?” I ask.
She smiles big and says, “Good, really good.”
“Really, you didn’t need me. Not even a little” I wonder to myself.
I had my Rocky t-shirt on during her labor. I was pumped and ready to get in the ring. I had trained and trained and was prepared for a fight, but there wasn’t any. Not even an altercation in the parking lot.
Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a good thing. It really is.
As Aya stares down at Chloe and gazes at her, vaguely aware of her surroundings, Ellie bursts into our room excited. “Daddy, daddy, daddy! LET’S PLAY!”
Ellie hasn’t been jealous at all! She’s been very excited. And this excitement has led to her having a hard time falling asleep at night, and skipping her naps. After playing, cooking, walking, playing, running, not napping, and more playing I make it back upstairs to check on Aya. And there she is, still lying in bed staring at Chloe with a big smile on her face. I’m so happy she’s adjusting better this time, and that she’s feeling that mother-baby bliss she wanted so much with Ellie but took almost a year to feel. But I can’t help but feel a little jealous. While I’m chasing a crazy un-napped toddler inside and outside the house, she gets to snuggle and connect with our newborn.
But now that Aya’s mom is in town to visit and help out for a few weeks, needless to say Ellie has been ecstatic. From the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to sleep, it’s been ALL about Miko-chan.(that’s what Ellie calls her; per Aya’s mom’s request) “Where’s Miko-Chan?” “Miko-chan downstairs?” “Miko-chan what you doing?” “Miko-chan play with me?”
So while Aya snuggles with Chloe, Ellie runs off to play with Miko-chan. And I, well, I get a break… I guess.
When people ask me how things are going at home I feel guilty when I respond that everything is fine. I can’t even exaggerate a situation to provide a humorous story. The most challenging event so far has been grocery shopping with my mother-in-law. She has her list in Japanese, and me with mine in English and both of us being overly polite to each other because we can’t speak the same language. We communicate with grunts and smiles.
I was expecting chaos. I was expecting challenging sleepless nights. It’s in those midnight cry sessions when we bond with each other, right? I just feel like my job security is fading. Like I’m being phased out. There are three adults and two kids in the same house right now. Essentially I have no job. I worked really hard to be comfortable with and find my own style with this whole stay at home dad gig, and I take my job really seriously. But with two extra adults in the house now, I feel disconnected from the household and feel like I’m having trouble finding my own place at home. I even asked Aya, “You are going back to work, right?”
I just wanted to know if I should start putting my portfolio together or not.
I know I have no logical reasons to complain or be worried about. And I know I should soak this up now while I can before my mother-in-law goes back to Japan and Aya returns to work. So what’s wrong with me? Is it possible for men to have postpartum depression?
Ah, what am I talking about? I’m whining because things are too easy right now? That’s crazy.
I know whatever I’m feeling will pass, and deep down I know my family does need me. And when Aya goes back to work, I know I’ll have my day in the ring. So instead of moping and complaining, I’m going to enjoy my “break,” save my Rocky t-shirt for another day, and smile.
To read more stories from this stay-at-home dad, visit www.thegoodthedadandthebaby.com