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Birth Order

homebirth pic 1


I have a feeling writing this is going to cause a few problems for me but screw it.  I’m constantly getting myself into trouble with my blog…  These are my thoughts and I like to share them…  Why stop now?  

My cousin had a baby a few weeks ago, and I’m sad I can’t be there to meet him.  Thank goodness for Facebook!  I get to look through the pictures and coo over his tiny hands and wrinkled baby skin.  It made me think back to my hospital births with my first four babies, and Henry’s homebirth…

The first baby:

Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, came to visit.  They brought flowers and balloons and playfully fought over who’s turn it was to hold the baby.  It was kind of weird, because I was trying to figure out breastfeeding and people kept popping into the room and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. It was all fumbling and blushing and falling down hospital gowns and receiving blankets and proudly showing off the tiny new person I had made.

I also had the added weight of being a seventeen year old new mom so everyone was of course happy to see the baby, but it all felt a little awkward and the nurses were a bit prickly and not at all sympathetic to my feelings.  And then my ex showed up with his parents, who I had met one time and I was sitting there with my boob out.  I still have the picture of them and Hannah.  Looking at it now they look as awkward as I felt.

The second baby:

There is still fanfare, people were happy for us.  I had a girl the first time, so now I was having a boy with my new husband and we got lots of little sporty outfits and a big party to welcome him home.  Patrick was born on my dad’s birthday (he died in 1982) so it was all quite poignant and weepy.  My grandmother was even there when he was born.  She held him first, and we named him after my dad.


The third baby:

This time, people weren’t so excited for us.  I called to announce it, with the test still in my hand.  Instead of a CONGRATULATIONS!  I got an “Oh, Joni…”  in this disappointed sad little voice, as if I were a dog that crapped on the carpet.  It was later explained to me that this person was worried about me having too much to handle, they didn’t want me to struggle as they did.  But to me, that is a memory that will always stick out like a sore thumb.  This baby didn’t garner much celebration.  Enough so that James went out and filled a wagon with balloons and flowers and tiny pink clothing to surprise me with at the hospital.


The fourth baby:

My friend Lorna through me a beautiful baby shower, something I had always wanted to have.  After the birth, no one visited except one uncle that happened to be in the area.  My husband had to drop me off at home from the hospital on his way to his first day of work.  I fell right back into routine, washing dishes and cooking dinner within a half hour of being home.  I got really angry about that.  Not because I expected to be showered with attention and gifts, but because it would have been nice to have some help while I was still bleeding like a stuck pig and walking around on swollen balloon feet leftover from my twenty-seven hour labor.  And while I’m sure it was all a bit old hat for our family and friends, Cooper was a brand new person and I felt like his birth should be a happy occasion.  Instead of bonding with my baby I cried a lot about dishes and laundry and feeling overwhelmed.  I cleaned and scrubbed and cooked like a maniac.  I think I was going through a weird version of postpartum depression that turned me into SuperHomeMaker.


The fifth baby:

I live too far away for family to visit, but my mother came to stay and took good care of me.  I learned my lesson from the other births and I refused to get out of bed for over a week.  I was not going to work myself to death when I was supposed to be recovering.

Facebook is a thing now.  I thought it was a great way to announce Henry’s birth, especially since he was born at midnight.  So I posted before I went to sleep with my fresh new bub.  Some of my family felt differently and I started off my first morning with my new baby getting yelled at because they were mad I didn’t call them to announce the birth before posting on Facebook.  Bearing in mind, that by the time we got cleaned up and tucked in bed it was two o’clock in the morning and I called them as soon as I woke up….  At eight o’clock in the morning.  I hung up and cried hysterically for two hours.    I still haven’t spoken to that person… And Henry will be six months old next week.  It really hurts.  I know I should forgive and forget, but I can’t bring myself to pick up the phone when my memory of my last baby’s first morning, the peaceful homebirth baby I had desperately wanted, wished for, fought for- and my memories of that morning are filled with me crying hysterically after getting yelled at.

Kind of a bummer.


15 Responses to Birth Order

  1. Oh Joni, this ticks me off so much! I have heard so many people share similar stories about how only the first one or two babies were celebrated by family and friends, as if third, fourth, fifth, heck, 20th babies aren’t just as precious, brand new, and worth celebrating!

    I just want to punch the person who made you cry in the face for being such an inconsiderate and obnoxious jerk, or slap them upside the head at least. Seriously? Next time turn off the phone and internet for at least the first day! I will remember this when I get to have my next child, and make sure only people with half a brain AND a whole heart are able to communicate with me postpartum.


  2. I wish I knew when Cooper was born the things I know now about the help a family can use when a baby is born. Babies still scare me a little due to me being the youngest and I just don’t get baby excited. Cousins have kids but I moved away. Sorry I didn’t help, or didn’t know any better. <3

    • That’s ok!

      I don’t think anyone knew I needed help. I was unable to communicate my feelings well and ask for it. Don’t feel bad!

      But, if you have a friend that has a baby and you want to go visit? Bring some food and do her dishes!

  3. I totally get you on this. Both my babies (my daughter is now 13, and my son 5 almost six), were born ‘out of wedlock’. I think the reason that cemented my decision to completely stop talking to my mother’s (now deceased for 7 years) side of the family was when I called my favorite uncle and told him I was expecting a baby and that the father was a friend of mine his response was : You foolish girl (mind you I was 29 years old). That right there was the nail in the coffin. The deal breaker. I haven’t spoken to anyone on my mom’s side of the family since that day…and I can honestly say that I am better for it. But still why is it that when another baby comes, even though that baby is a totally exciting and new thing for the family, why does everyone else have to be all: Are you sure you can handle this? That right there gets my goat.

    • My mother’s father kicked me out of the family when I had my first baby as an unwed mother. I got welcomed back when I got married to my husband a few years later.

  4. Totally get this, the more babies I’ve had the less attention they get.
    First – everyone visited and we were overwhelmed with presents. We had a surplus of babysitters for her. We chose not to use the offers.
    2nd – we got 3 visitors and only my mum and fil seemed really interested in him. Took other family members weeks to visit. A 30 minute drive was too much apparently.
    3rd – my fil and friend who amazing flew about 400 miles to watch the older 2, were the only hospital visitors. Took my 6 weeks to visit because she couldn’t get a lift. The real kicker was that my gran and her partner dropped her off, they refused to come in and meet him because she was angry at me for a reason I still don’t know; deleted her off Facebook. I’m sure as mum lives with her atm they see him via my mums account.

  5. I completely get where you are coming from. There are some people who just have to try to ruin it for everyone.

    My first baby was a great fear for me. I had been told I would never conceive; that if by some miracle I did get pregnant I would never carry to term. So when I got pregnant at 18, I thought I would lose the baby, and tried very hard to protect myself emotionally by keeping myself distant from the life growing in me. It wasn’t until I was far enough along that I realized “Huh…if I gave birth right now, this baby would be viable and able to survive!” that the true glory of my pregnancy crashed over me. I remember calling my mom and shouting “Oh my god, I’m pregnant!” and her wry response “You hadn’t figured that out already?”

    Second baby was just as unexpected, and celebrated by close family, though my church kicked me out due to that pregnancy (I was unmarried). Losing my church family less than six months after 9/11 was incredibly hard, and lead to me growing away from Christianity and the hypocrisy that often comes with it.

    Baby #3 was conceived while on birth control less than two months after baby #2 was born. Pregnancy #2 had been very hard on me, physically, and the doctor had warned me to wait a few years before trying again (thus the birth control). To many, this baby – and my decision to carry him to term rather than abort – was an outrage to many of my acquaintances. I spent the entire pregnancy physically ill and exhausted, my health suffered, and those I had formerly trusted and loved would look at me with scorn and say “It’s what you deserve” when I would ask for help. It was the worst time in my life at that point. I was barely hanging on to life and sanity, my fiance’ and father of all three of my children got hooked on meth during my last trimester, I lost my job and my home within two months of the birth, and after the birth had to face complications for myself (my c-section incision tore open) and my new baby (who needed surgery at six weeks for an unexpected and life-threatening hernia).

    I still don’t know how I made it through that period in my life. But the lack of support added to the physical problems I was having, and the knowledge that another pregnancy could literally paralyze me from the waist down, lead to me getting my tubes tied the day my last son was born. It was the right decision – but it still hurts when I think of the children I could have had.

    You hang in there, Joni. Some people don’t look at each child as a new miracle worthy of celebration, but think of each child as an additional burden. That’s THEIR problem and no reflection on you, or on reality.

  6. Yep. I get it.

    My MIL told us that she was glad we were done after our second child (even though we’d said nothing of the sort) – since we have one of each, we’re good! And then we got pregnant with our third baby and she said, “Are you sure this is a good thing? Is this a good idea? Or could we take a moment to consider this action.” Like I could just magically get un-pregnant by thinking about it and then realizing the errors of my ways according to her.

    And lets not even get into the shit I caught from her for having a homebirth after cesarean for our second. She never found out that we had an unassisted for the third. 😀 She thought I was putting the baby into unnecessary mortal danger by having a VBAC – according the woman who chose to have cesareans for convenience even way back in the 80’s. (I kid you not.) She couldn’t fathom why I refused to have another cesarean. So that meant that I was being unnecessarily dramatic about the whole thing to her.


  7. I have 5 children and this is pretty close to the way things have gone for me and my babies. With my first, my mom was right outside the hospital room the whole time and stayed until visiting hours were over. My second, she picked me up from the hospital. With my third she came to see him when he was 3 weeks old. With my fourth she couldn’t believe we would bring another baby into this world. She saw her for the first time when she was 6 months old. With my 5th she still hasn’t met her and she’s 8 months old. As for my husband’s side of the family, they have been there a little less with each child. My sister-in-law had her first 6 weeks before our 5th and my mother-in-law is at her house everyday. She has only been to our house about 10 times in the last 8 months. We all live in the same town, within a 10 mile radious. All babies are equally special and each one deserves to be treated as such. I tell my husband our children have crappy grandparents, but kickass parents!

  8. I’m only on baby #2 and I get this. I actually would have appreciated the fanfare more with my second baby. Bringing him home felt almost TOO easy. It was also my first med-free birth, which I would have been excited to talk about at length.

    I can’t believe that reaction you got to your third baby. That is so shitty. The only appropriate response to a pregnancy is “Congratulations” unless the mother herself says otherwise. I think it’s safe to say that you are not overwhelmed by babies!

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