In the matter of one evening our lives went from a well-oiled family of three to a chaotic, scrambled family of four.
My friends and family have slowly started reaching out, being careful to give me some space as I try to find my way through the murky territory of parenting more than one child. Slowly, but surely, they've been asking more questions, "how is it going," "how am I feeling," "how is Pearyn reacting to her brother," "do I want to pull my hair out yet?"
And I haven't been ignoring the questions, so much as I haven't been answering them really. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how it's going just yet.
Don't get me wrong. I'll be the first admit now that Braeburn is here, I don't have any idea how we ever lived as a family of less than four.
All those doubts I felt about loving two, loving my second equal to my first and how our decision to welcome one more into the family was essentially the death of our family as three, vanished as soon as they plopped the giant veggie baby up on my chest.
In fact, I left the hospital trying to figure out how to hide from Pearyn exactly how much I loved this new little boy. It isn't any more or any less than I love her, of course, but it isn't even remotely the same. I love Pearyn in a way a parent loves their first; almost bittersweet.
She was the first real experience I had of love at first sight and was unfortunately the battleground of Chubby Vegan Dad and I learning exactly how to be parents together for the first time. Her big heart, her constant expression of how much she loves us, her fear of disappointing us and her need to captivate our attention at all times are the scars she wears as an only child for nearly three years. Not only did we learn to become parents with her, she MADE us parents.
She bears the brunt of our exhaustion and our frustration in not knowing how to tread the waters of parenthood, but also the love and attention of two adults who fell utterly head over heels in love with this tiny little girl.
Of course, that doesn't make our love for Braeburn any less meaningful. If anything, being the first boy, the first "next" child, provides him with his own set of instructions on how to be loved. We love him more easily, because we've been there and done that before. We know that newborns cry. We know that newborns poop. We know that sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, whether it's their inability to latch on when trying to breastfeed or their inability to fart without screaming bloody murder.
As parents of one going into this birth, there was an ease about his arrival. We knew what to expect. We didn't pack as many bags for the hospital, we didn't panic when we went into labor at 2 a.m. and overall, we knew that while we had no way of knowing what was headed for us baby wise, we had walked this road before and would make it out regardless.
Our daughter will always be our first first.
Our son will always be our first second.
But they'll always be each other's first.