When I had my son six months ago, I guess I kind of assumed that all the lessons I'd learned from raising my daughter through infancy and toddlerhood would come in semi-handy. A baby is a baby is a baby. Especially during their warm-up laps in the marathon of life, they're really only doing a few things and there are only so many loops they can throw you: do they like getting their diaper changed or do you have to be like those kids with the flip-cup pyramids and get them changed in 3 seconds flat? Do they like to lie on their back or kind of propped on their side-ish? Do you have to strip them down naked and run them under cold water to rouse them enough to eat, or are they always ready for the all-you-can-eat buffet?
These mind-benders aside, once you've had one kid it should be relatively smooth sailing with the next one. Or so I thought. But then I remembered I'm an idiot.
Granted, I would say that I'm a calmer parent in round 2. There are some general things that Emilia did and Mateo now does, and I friek out about those things less. Emilia once got a rash on her forehead and I called the emergency line at her pediatrician's office to figure out if they were going to Medivac her to a specialist or if I should just run screaming down the street until someone stopped to help me. (Turns out the answer was call back in the morning if the rash was still there. It wasn't.) Mateo recently had a rash covering his entire torso and parts of his legs. I figured I'd wait until his 6-month check-up to see what was up. That was three weeks from the time I discovered the rash. Turns out he, too, was going to survive it. When Mateo deviates from his sleep schedule, or spits up more than usual, or isn't interested in his favorite chew toy, I don't buy six books to cross reference on how to bring my child back from the brink of sleep deprivation, a gastro-intestinal disease, or depression. I know that kids are cyclical, no day is the same, and I should just take a deep breath and hold off on screwing up my children until they're at least in middle school.
These broader lessons aside, as soon as I got home from the hospital with my little blue bundle of joy, I realized that I'd forgotten almost all of the basics about tending to a baby. When is the belly button attractiveness supposed to fall off? When do I introduce solids? How do I get him to recognize the difference between day and night? IS there a difference between day and night? What's my name again?
Yet another reason to berate myself for not being more diligent with Emilia's baby-book. My failure to document her every milestone has left me no choice but to look at Mateo every morning and ask him "what's supposed to happen today?" Depending on the octave of his gurgling response, we just do that.
So today he rode a bike to day-care.
The thing that's really got me thrown for a loop is his size. Emilia was a whopper as an infant. Weighed a pound more than the baby of the woman I met during intake who was having a c-section because her doctor was worried about her baby's size. E was literally off those charts they use to track your kid's weight, height, and head circumference percentiles. She has since tapered off and happily doesn't look like she could eat her friends at pre-school, but as a baby she was solid and therefore not all wobbly and bendy.
Mateo is a different story. He was a good size at birth, but he's already done his tapering off. He's in the measly 25% for weight and 50% for height. His head, though, is huge. It's in the 90%. So he always looks exhausted from trying to hold it up all day, and it's impossible for him to look at you straight on.
These proportions mean he is nowhere close to sitting up on his own. And I can't remember when Emilia was sitting up, so I don't know if this is normal or not.
I know there are books out there to answer big questions such as these, but I prefer to reference my inner paranoia and the trusted statistics of Facebook. I troll status updates looking for pictures of babies that appear to be boasting some level of upright posture. Last night I saw a 3-month-old nestled among some pillows on her parents' bed and I zoomed in for a closer look. Definitely looked like she was going to be an early sitter. Nice spinal support, strong eye contact. I looked down at Mateo. He was sprawled on the floor on his stomach, grunting with the effort of lifting his head to figure out where the hyperventilations were coming from.
So I flipped him on his back, brought his head to his knees in what I'm going to trademark as a "baby crunch" (catchy, no?) and added some vanilla protein powder to his bottle.
And I said to myself, "Self, relax. Your arsenal of parenting tricks is right where you need it to be."
My point here is, trust yourself, parents of the world. You know what you're doing, even when you think you don't.