The sleepless nights and budget stress of an unexpected second child can be terrifying.
Honest to God, I thought I was getting my head around this whole fatherhood thing.
Sure, financially things were tight, and we had moved interstate after discovering that Sydney was never going to offer the space our growing family needed at a price that that didn’t involve regular casino heists.
But we had gotten past the bit where we had to spend up on cribs and cots and prams and car seats, and all the other accoutrements which cost far, far more than you are braced for.
We’d even gotten into a rhythm with an infant who was sorta-kinda sleeping — or, at least, waking up at predictable intervals — and had certain events during the week on the regular.
Both of us were working again. It had even gotten to the point where we’d started thinking beyond the next immunisation or wonder week to even saving money and long-term plans, and career aspirations.
Maybe we’d even have a second child sometime down the track a bit.
Of course, that track turned out to be a whole lot shorter than we expected. It wasn’t even a track at all: it was barely a bare patch of grass on the ground.
Yes, somehow, in our infrequent and exhausted seconds of privacy, we’d still efficiently managed to spark Child No.2 into being.
Sure, few of us get to plan these things out and it’s not like No.1 came at the world’s most opportune time (hot tip: New Year’s Eve isn’t the greatest time to expect attentive maternity-related action from a well-staffed hospital).
But at this point it feels like pregnancy one and pregnancy two represent the subtle difference between terror and horror.
First time around everything’s acutely frightening. You don’t know what’s around the corner so the stakes are permanently elevated.
You don’t know what the rules are, you don’t know what the consequences can be, and every second is a new tick on the blood pressure meter. It’s unending terror.
But for number two, it’s not a matter of wondering if something’s lurking in the shadows: you already know it’s there and what it’s going to do to you.
Only this time you’re also going to be attempting to run the marathon that is a newborn with the added weight of an attention-starved child furious that Peppa Pig isn’t already on.
It’s not if something’s going to happen, it’s a matter of when and how much cleaning up is going to be required afterwards. It’s pure horror.
We’ve been bracing ourselves for another year of my wife not drinking and our romantic time being even more scant.
We’d been looking forward to a bit of dedicated let’s-make-a-baby time down the track time, which has now been postponed indefinitely, and will no doubt resume with an entire suite of comprehensive prophylactic deployment.
And I’d have kinda liked to have had at least a small interval to lose some of my father-weight and stop looking quite so much like a sack of pale exhaustion before moving abruptly into round two.
And sure, I now climb into bed for a fitful night’s sleep to have my brain whisper: “Just before we grab some much-needed slumber, how’s about you explain to me how you plan to support four people on your income, hmmm?
“Wanna really dig down on that? Let’s talk budgets!” it says, until either the dawn breaks or my son loses his dummy in his cot, or both.
Part of me shrugs and says, ‘Hey, it’ll work out’. Hell, plenty of other people have managed, and if parenting does nothing else it trains us to make it from A to B regardless of how impossible it looks on the map.
And the other part of me feels like it might be best just to hide in the wardrobe until it’s all over — even knowing that the thing I’m hiding from is still inexorably getting closer and closer and closer.
- Second sentence: The 5 ways our firstborn prepared me to go again
- The attitude graph: How our toddler is adjusting to having a baby sister
- Seven things expecting dads can do to keep their pregnant partner happy