Ella, Parenting, Reece, Special needs parenting

What I wish I’d been told about having a baby after a special needs child.

Screenshot_20180528-193600Making the decision to have another child after Ella was not an easy one to make for us.  It was one of those things, early on, no way did I want another one! I already had anxiety and guilt issues relating to Ella (which I’m working on a post about lol)
But as time went on, I did wonder what it would be like.

I debated whether or not it was ‘fair’ to bring another child into our family.  Was it fair on the child, knowing that Ella would always need more? More money, More time, more attention, more everything. A child Having to grow up sometimes needing to be put second because your big sister doesn’t understand or has one appointment or another.  And was it fair on Ella?  Knowing that my time and attention would now need to be divided between two kids, that sometimes Ella would have to wait, especially when her sibling is a newborn, when she’d had my undivided attention her whole life. And lastly, would I even be able to manage juggling a newborn along with Ella’s complex needs?  Some days I barely think I’m managing with just Ella!  There’s appointments and sick days and meltdowns (*oh my*)

I needed to know! I needed some information on siblings of special needs kids!  After having Ella the unknown always scares me so I googled ‘having a baby after a child with a disability’ and ‘siblings of children with disabilities’ i spent days trying to work out what the ‘right’ choice was but there just wasn’t much information out there, not even personal blogs from people in my position I could read to gain some insight.  So if nothing else, maybe this post will give a scared mother an example of what it’s like.
After talking about it more Joel and I decided to wait, we were planning on building a house in the next few years, maybe we’d talk about it again then. I knew my age would become an issue at some point (biological clock running out of batteries and all that) so I went and had a fertility test. Now, I won’t go into detail but basically the results came back that I had the fertility of a 45 year old, the Dr advised that if I was going to get pregnant, now is the time but don’t get my hopes up.

So much time passed and so much happened, my car was stolen, we bought our block of land and started building, I was taking my ex to court for full parental responsibility of Ella to protect her in the event something happens to me.  My father passed away and I fell into a bit of a depression. I hated that he wouldn’t be around if I did have another baby, he knew we were trying and we would talk about it often. I was stressed out, I had my first anxiety attack and I was in a bad place mentally.
To overcome this I was getting used to the fact that I would be ‘1 and done’.  I stopped getting asked ‘so when’s the next one coming!?’
I started to come to terms that Ella would be an only child and everything that came along with that. But it meant that Joel would never have a biological child. I had a very frank discussion with him that if that’s what he wanted I would understand if he wanted to break up. If it’s just Ella We would never be grandparents. We would never get to experience a child getting married, or graduating high school, moving out of home, all the things people seem to take for granted. It was a pretty dark time in my life.
Obviously Joel and I got through it together and things were looking up.

Screenshot_20180528-185635Part of coming to terms with all this was spending the nest egg I had saved.  I had been using Joel’s car since mine was stolen. He has a big 4 wheel drive ute, and it was such a pain to park when I had trips for Ella to the Melbourne royal children’s hospital, So I thought I’d spoil myself, I bought a brand new car!  It took a few weeks to be delivered as I bought it online (amazing what you can buy online these days!) the day my car was due to be delivered, I realised my period was late, I took a test and it was positive 😂  first thing I did was look into returning the car, and of course I couldn’t, so at least when the baby arrived we’d be travelling in style!

Screenshot_20180528-190112During my pregnancy not a day went past that I didn’t worry.  I worried that there would be something ‘wrong’ – I worried that I’d miscarry, – I worried that I was doing the wrong thing – I worried about how Ella would handle it – I worried how I would handle everything – I even worried that I was worrying too much! Our house was almost completed so we were moving and Ella was in her first year at school, it was such a busy time!

My biggest fear is that I would love the new baby more than I loved Ella. I don’t even know when or why that idea came to me. It was a completely different circumstance, it was planned, I was financially stable, in a stable relationship, everything was ‘right’. And now that he’s here I worry too much what other people think, am I sharing too much about Reece and not enough about Ella? Am I talking about Ella too much and forgetting Reece? It’s a very fine balancing act to keep it together. And I know in my head that this is ridiculous, that no one gives a shit if I post about Ella twice in a row or vice versa.

With Reece I weirdly took comfort in the fact that my pregnancy was so hard. I had heard the anecdote before, that easy pregnancy=hard child and hard pregnancy=easy child. While I obviously know that’s crap, it definitely rang true for me!
Reece’s birth wasn’t great, nothing went to plan (another post in the making I think) but When he was born, he latched and fed right away and 6 months on, and I could talk for hours about how he just fascinates me! for example, when he just sat up one day, I plonked him down, and held him before I realized I wasn’t actually supporting him! Resized_20180330_162933 He was only 4 months old! 😲 I realised then that I had been subconsciously doing the exercises with him that I was used to doing with Ella.  I stopped doing that and started just enjoying him.
But still he keeps amazing me with what he can do. He woke up one day and just started babbling, babababa, gaga, dadada and even mumumum! no prompting from anyone!
Recently he got up on all fours ready to crawl,  I didn’t show him how, he just did it.  Like, how does he know!? It’s crazy to me lol
Screenshot_20180528-193709When I have appointments with Ella, he’s quite happy to be worn or just chill in the pram and watch, and he plays with age appropriate toys, in age appropriate ways!
He does seem to be allergic to sleep,but that’s my own fault. I’m still rocking him to sleep and I have no plans to stop, he’s growing up so fast. (another phrase I never understood!)
Everything is just so damn easy.
Basically the opposite of my experience with Ella.
I finally understand when Ella was born, why people said that at least she was my first and I didn’t know any different.

IMG_20171118_111606From the minute I brought him home Ella has been such a good big sister. She loves Reece to bits, and proudly signed ‘baby Reece’ to her class when he was born. She loves getting me nappies or burp cloths, and bringing Reece his toys, and her toys and the bathroom sink if she could! 😂 She tries so hard to be helpful and just wants to be near him always.  She doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body (if anything she’d gladly get rid of me to have more time with Reece! haha) and she’s such a kind soul, She’s happy to just hover around while I’m distracted with Reece, happy to watch me feed him, loves watching me bath him. Is quite understanding when I have to pause story time together to get him.

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I still worry constantly about Ella, her future, am I pushing too hard,or not hard enough.  I still make the time to work with her, I’ve made sure to keep her routines as normal as possible, we still have story time with just me and her every night, I still keep up with all her appointments.  I still make sure she’s getting everything she needs and more because I love her completely.  Having Reece hasn’t changed that.  I KNOW I love them both, but in very different ways.

I’m also very aware that I am only just beginning this new journey and there will be new challenges ahead, some of which I’m aware, and I’m sure some that will take me completely by surprise.  I am preparing myself mentally for when Reece ‘overtakes’ Ella in terms of mental age or ability. I’ve been told by others that’s another bitter-sweet moment. Seeing him do things for her that should be the other way around, or when Reece starts outgrowing toys that still hold interest for Ella.

I have really loved seeing how loving Ella is with him, its probably going to help her development in the long run as she imitates him, and when Joel and I are old and buried, at least they’ll have each other.
I guess my aim for this blog post is to let people know that, while I stressed about every moment of it, having a child after Ella wasn’t so scary after all and I could have saved all that energy.
And to give myself permission to STOP WORRYING! I give myself permission just to enjoy both my kids in their very individual ways.

And to prove a point, I’m not even to go back and check who I spoke more about in this post. At the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier with both my children, because they are both perfect.

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6 thoughts on “What I wish I’d been told about having a baby after a special needs child.”

  1. Very well written. You should consider writing a children’s book. I think you would be great at it. You could even incorporate your two children into the book as an educational book for young mums in your situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well written. You should consider writing a children’s book. I think you would be great at it. You could even incorporate your two children into the book as an educational book for young mums in your situation.

    Like

  3. My daughter too has special needs. I am on the fence about planning for a sibling for her and your blog literally spoke my mind. I am almost ready to jump over the fence after reading this. Thank you so much ! Much love to both your kids!

    Liked by 1 person

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