Six long years. SIX YEARS I waited for him to join our family due to a struggle with secondary infertility.
When he finally did make his arrival, he joined two teenage sisters who were sixteen and fourteen.
My daughter was our oldest, my step-daughter became our middle, and the baby we finally managed to make together will definitely remain that; the baby. Some of our scariest moments, biggest challenges and greatest rewards Lost [and sleepless] in Suburbia, definitely involved having teenagers and an infant in the house at the same time.
Not that I was sorry, I certainly wasn’t. He was all that I’d hoped for, and so very much more. I was delighted to have the privilege to experience a boy after having almost raised two daughters. There were moments I wondered, however, about the Universe’s planning—and obvious sense of humor—because of course, as anyone with teenagers knows, you’re not remotely finished and raising them right isn’t remotely easy, especially with a blended family.
We had an inkling of how challenging it might prove to be almost immediately. Let this be fair warning to those of you considering parenthood again with teenagers already in your house.
Teenagers will drive themselves to the hospital to meet their baby brother after having only had their license for two full months when, naturally, there will be an early April snowstorm: Great. I’d had a cesarean that included a perforated bladder and such a drug hangover that I couldn’t even hold my son up to nurse. (He remains not the most enthusiastic self-starter.) My husband had to help me with the breast pump to get the flow started, and then position him on a pillow and hover so I wouldn’t pass out and drop him. The teenager made it to the hospital and back home in one piece, and if there were any calamities along the way, they’re lost in baby fog.
Teenage friends come and go at all hours, with loud voices, squeaking storm and slamming doors, right downstairs from the baby’s room: It didn’t matter that it was after 9pm, that the drugs hadn’t fully worn off yet, that a catheter and bag conspicuously filled my sweatpants, or that my nipples were so raw, even the soft cotton fabric of the nightgown I’d been sporting for at least thirty-two hours felt like a cat’s tongue on a fresh burn. My daughter busted in the front door with friends following shortly behind. I woke with a start, and checked to make sure I hadn’t dropped my son.
“Mom! Put your boob away! My friends are coming over to see the baby!”
Yep. That happened. Proud moment.
On the rare occasion my husband and I both had the energy to enjoy an evening out: The good news is, we had two generally willing big sister babysitters somewhat at our disposal, and plenty of good tools for extortion at the ready if more pressure were necessary, though it usually wasn’t. My girls adore their baby brother, and he’s never lacked for female admiration from their friends either. Hopefully that will serve him well when he starts dating. I can tell you there will be no infant in the house! Maybe I’ll be ready for a puppy by then.
And speaking of dating, don’t forget, with teenage girls come teenage boyfriends: And they hang around. A LOT. You can typically hear their music booming in cacophonous harmony with their insufficient muffler when they start their car in the next neighborhood half a mile across field and wood. I didn’t have to worry too much about feeding them because we pretty much only had PB&J, mac & cheese and otherwise gluten-free food in the house (I’ll save the post-vasectomy testicle beans story for another time). But I did always wish I had the energy to foray into the basement to see what was going on down there. Sleep deprivation is a bitch, and I’m sure the teenagers counted on it. As it turns out, however….
Newborn baby brothers are excellent birth control: My girls are twenty-six and twenty-four, both married (the oldest to that same owner of the legendary sound system who we basically watched grow up), with nary a grandchild in sight.
Thank goodness, because I’m WAY too young for that! Though I’ll gratefully embrace the role whenever they live close enough for Grandma to babysit, and they feel the time is right. Hopefully it’s before their baby brother becomes a teenager. I know one thing for sure; whenever it’s meant to be, he will make a great little uncle. Paybacks could be a bugger if he is a teenager, however, and I bribe him to blast his sound-system as he pulls into their neighborhoods.
What do you think? Should I call ahead and warn them to put their boobs away?
Note: Kim writes the blog West Coast Posse. You can read her latest post HERE!