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The X-Files: A Story of a Second Child

Recently I was carrying Exley on my hip and rushing around after Jack. Suddenly I started spinning and darting my eyes around the floor.

“WHERE’S EXLEY??!!” I yelled.

It took my mom to burst out laughing for me to realize what I had done.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, with son.

This is something that never happened with my first born, Jack. I’ve always known exactly where he was. I’ve written a million words about him. Even with the arrival of a new baby a lot of my writing still centers on Jack because he is always growing and changing and challenging me in new ways. He is my first and will always be the one giving me the first experience of parenting a child his age, no matter his age.

Jack’s newest love is Planes and Planes 2. Exley reminds me of the line in Planes when Dusty starts to get a bit cocky about winning the race. He says to Rip Slinger, “Well, check 6, ‘cause I’m comin’.” Jack was just like Rip Slinger (except not a jerk): the center of the universe, the most adored. Now there’s this new kid on his 6. And Jack can’t shake him.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

The first few months Exley slept a lot, allowing us to talk to Jack about this new guy in town. And allowing my husband and me to be like, “this is easy!” But I have been keeping a secret file on this guy. I’m watching him, getting to know him, loving on him, similar to the way he watches Jack. This new guy, Exley, is learning how to churn up dirt and turn heads. Before we know it he’s going to burst out of babyhood and into life-shattering, heart-devouring, scene-stealing guyhood.

Exley is the loudest person I have ever known. He doesn’t scream or screech; he starts into an even toned, “aaaaaahhhhhh,” which slowly grows into a chest-thumping, “AAAAAHHHHHHH.”

“Who does Exley sound like?” I asked Jack.

“FRANKENSTEIN!”

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

Exley can grab anything. He can grab a handful of my chest skin, the skin with little slack right above the chest bone. Just suddenly he’s started getting a hold of me like a gangster holding someone by the shirt. I was once carrying him on my hip walking down the hallway when I felt something following me. I turned to see his grip on the vacuum cleaner as he pulled it behind us.

He doesn’t breastfeed the way Jack did. Jack did (and still would, if I let him) hang out on my boob all day. Exley eats and then he’s got places to go. Places Jack is going to be exact.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding son.

He eats everything off of the floor. Everything. Cat food, dry oats, dust balls, crumbs. Yes, this is all on my floor, thank you.

Exley isn’t easily shaken. Noise, crowds, activity, he’s along for the ride.

He has really big cheeks. They’ve been kissed a million times each. He smiles all day.

I can tell you all sorts of funny things about him that will most likely be funny only to me because that’s how it goes with kids. Exley’s life so far has been going with the flow through the major chaos of a family in transition. I’d like to tell you about the time it all came to a screeching halt for me and I realized I better stop and smell the Exleys more often.

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Shortly after the New Year 2015 I had a pregnancy scare. Meaning I thought I was pregnant. And we became more scared than we have ever been before. When we connected the dots we were on our way out of the house. It was chaos. It was “3-year-old and 6-month-old” chaos. The thoughts started to flood my brain, “I’m late, I’m crabby, I’m sore, I’m spotting!”

Ohdearfuckinggodohwaitthereisnogodbecauseiftherewashewouldnotallowthis.

We were not in a great place. We were still trying to find our new normal. If you can call it that. We were still freaking the fuck out every minute about the addition of another family member. It was not 3+1 it was 3+67=4 family members. We were on edge. This was a rare day when we decided to brave the outside because maybe it would ease the pain of the inside.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

We decided to go to the diner as planned and get a pregnancy test later. Stupid idea. We sat in silence the entire time. I tried several times to wrap my brain around another baby. I kept breathing heavy and talking myself down from surges of anxiety. Meanwhile Jack jumped in the booth, Exley cried, we had to take turns to eat and we knew with all our hearts that we did not want a third child.

Here is the real deal. I mourned the end of my breastfeeding relationship with Exley. I had barely gotten to know this baby. Who is this guy? I want to know him. I want to devour him. I want to immerse myself in Exley. I had barely had time to do any of this. And as quick as he came, there he went. Like a conveyer belt. I saw him whisk by me. And as he passed in front of me I cried, I yearned for him, I felt my heart rip out of my chest. I knew that my pregnancy would dry up my milk as it did with Jack and that Exley, being so young, would not be able to comfort nurse through it. He would need donor milk or formula. And while we would make it work, it wasn’t at all what I wanted.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

As I walked to the drug store I imagined that I would seek out donor milk. That maybe possibly I could use a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) to keep Exley at my breast. But then there would be a new baby. Exley would be just over a year. Where would we be? Where is my little boy? I would be bonding with a new baby when I already have a new baby!

Not to mention Jack, whose little sensitive heart and soul was still trying to figure out where he stood in the new family dynamics. Jack, who was dealing with all of his big feelings by nursing. Would I nurse 3 different aged children? I felt lightheaded as I rushed down the street.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

I was gutted. I know people do this. I know families work this stuff out all of the time and we would have too and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any fleeting feelings of excitement. But the bottom line for me was that I have not had my time with Exley. I have not had my romance with this new man in my life.

I wanted to be romanced by Exley. And I had not yet been. It was just all too chaotic up until then.

I could not sit on the toilet while I waited for the results of the pregnancy test because I knew I would fall off. My husband stood frozen in the middle of the kitchen. Waiting.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

I walked out and said, “I’m not pregnant.” The extreme drama immediately evaporated. “Well, that was intense.”

All I want in life is to feel connected to this new baby of mine for some extended period of time. This new baby who is now about to celebrate his first birthday! I still feel like I am fighting for moments with him. His life is so different from Jack’s. Thank goodness he is as good natured as he is because he puts up with a lot.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

What must he make of this world? I have high hopes for him. I have high hopes for us. I like to think he is working just as hard to get his quiet moments with me. I know for all of my efforts and complaining, all of the chaos and feelings of disconnect, the rushing and laughing and running, it will all add up to a lifetime of love and fun and connection, but I will still sneak off from time to time with my baby Exley so that we can giggle and breastfeed and I look into his big blue eyes.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Title credit to Dare Ellis

Comments

  1. Cynthia says:

    This made me cry baby #2 is 3 months old and this is how I feel. I long for the moments where it’s just me and him. Bbay cosleeps and toddler sleeps in his own room and it’s when I am cosleeping with baby that I feel like I am being a good mom to him. Exley and my baby have a lot in common must be something they took from the book of seconds kids.

  2. Jamie K. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. We’ve been down a very similar road this past year with my youngest being born in April 2014 and my oldest son turning three that June. Adjusting to a second child, tandem nursing both were ago much harder than I’d imagined. My oldest is playing with daddy right now while I keep the baby napping. As I read the last line of this article, he opened his beautiful blue eyes to smile at me. Then he said ‘ BOOBIES!’ Hahaha

  3. You have said what was in my mind. I have a baby boy, 2nd after my 4 years old daughter. Both have different lights in my life – feeling unbearable love for each as a bad ass breastfeeder:) (I call myself- I just can’t help myself provoking new mums around me about it – just as I do all the time ) and not yet enough time for each as I work from 7 to 7. I feel all the same however I live in almost on other side of the world – Turkey 🙂
    bests from far away

  4. This blog was so gorgeous. It was so nice to see a blog dedicated to Exley and to hear about your bond…I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way (please its not my intention) but sometimes reading your blogs (which are all amazing and inspiring!!) I would wonder a bit where Exley fitted in. There seemed to be so much emphasis on Jack and his emotions (which you probaubly needed to talk about, because a new baby is a big adjustment for a wee guy) but I was sometimes left wondering what it might be like to be Exley born into what seemed to be a super strong mother-son connection with Jack…and a bit of grieving over the end of just the two of you (and husband of course) It was really cool to hear this blog about your second wee delightful boy.

  5. This is such a wonderful post!! Baby #2 is almost here and I’ve been starting to feel torn feelings of letting go of our singleton life… and also sad I won’t be able to give baby #2 what I gave our first. Thank you for sharing! It was so wonderful hearing about this experience for you!

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