Learning I was pregnant for the second time, I knew exactly what to expect. Add in finding out I was having a second boy, and it's fair to say I got downright confident about how this next baby would turn out.
After all, my oldest, Henry, was just a year and a half old when I learned I was expecting his little brother. Amateur hour was over, people; of course my second baby would also be a chunky bowling ball with jet black hair that would make way for strawberry blonde locks. And naturally he'd be a world-renowned eater and a mediocre-at-best sleeper. He would be a snuggler. He'd teeth around five months, probably never crawl, and suddenly start walking just after his first birthday. As an already pro-level #boymom, I was certain there was little to nothing unexpected for me to worry about. Game on.
*Sound of record scratching*
As it would happen, I was very wrong. Say what you will, but I learned the hard way that the real parent trap is having a second child and assuming they'll behave exactly like your first.
Imagine my surprise when my first and second child were like night and day from the start, which I maybe should have picked up on during pregnancy. Henry was an exceptionally gracious tenant, who brought very few of the usual baby-on-board ailments. So my second pregnancy brought with it plenty of morning sickness and back pain; the experience felt so impossibly opposite from my first pregnancy that I swore I was having a girl. But along came Oliver, who very clearly was born with his own agenda.
When Ollie made his big debut, he had blonde curls and was (thankfully) almost a pound smaller than his brother. I hadn't even considered stocking up on newborn Pampers Swaddlers for his homecoming, because his older brother had never fit into them, but for those first few weeks that was the only size Ollie could wear.
Size and physical attributes aside, Ollie also proved himself to be the opposite of his brother in almost every way. Where Henry was an impressive eater, Ollie was finicky. While my first baby matched all of the uneasy newborn sleeper stereotypes, my youngest was an expert snoozer from the get-go. Baby Ollie was a natural-born adventurer. He preferred tummy time to cuddles, and seemed hell-bent on building up his strength. But out of all their differences, I thought I was imagining things when Ollie rolled over at three months old, right as he was cutting his first teeth (two months ahead of schedule). The kid was self-motivated, and inspired to keep up with his toddler brother.
True to form, Ollie took to crawling by six months old, and I’ll never forget the morning he did. Henry had made his way to the pantry, grabbed a full box of cereal, dumped it all over the floor, and promptly struck a nerve of determination in his little brother. From his play mat in the living room, Ollie’s eyes widened as he zeroed in on the mess before expertly rolling a couple of times toward the kitchen. Unsatisfied with his glacial pace, and clearly on a mission to make his way to that mountain of cereal, Ollie wasted no time before lifting himself into a full-on army crawl with a look of determination on his face that would strike fear in the heart of any mom of a mischievous six-month-old. This was it — that "a-ha" moment where a cartoon lightbulb illuminated over my head as I realized how wrong I was when assuming how similar my babies would be.
What unfolded in the next 15 seconds plays out best when reimagined in dramatic slow motion: In a supportive audience of one, Henry started his emphatic rally cry of, "Ollie! Ollie! Ollie!" only to be drowned out by my dramatic "Nooooo!" As Ollie pressed on (very quickly, I might add) in his newly-developed army crawl, my jaw dropped in disbelief as I heard the unmistakable crunch of his velcro diaper straps unhinging. (Mental note: It's time to stock up on Pampers Cruisers, since they have soft, stretchy sides that I know will flex with Ollie's newfound form of transportation.) A smug look crossed his face as he realized he was a free bird, with even less holding him back from his imminent cereal feast.
With one baby on the move and another enthusiastically cheering, my legs felt slow to wake from their stunned paralyzed state before I was able to sweep in just in time to stop Ollie's recon mission — but the three of us knew he was the real victor that day.
It was then I knew I could wave goodbye to any preconceived notions of this child’s timeline — and his personality, for that matter. My little dude was his own person, and he wasn't going to let anyone (especially me) forget it. Newly equipped with Pampers Cruisers — which my fellow mom friends assured me he couldn’t shimmy out of, despite his best efforts — Ollie spent the next three months seamlessly progressing from army crawl, to actual crawls, to pulling up, to walking on a timeline completely independent of his older brother's.
I thought it was safe to assume that Ollie and Henry would be just alike. but after three years and one giant learning curve, I’m happy to report just how wrong I was. Each of our little ones come with new and beautiful things to love about them, and introduce us to a spirit all their own. Inevitably, the only thing you can plan on is that they will have their own ideas about how to make their way in the world, so my advice to expecting moms-of-two? Buckle up, and let yourself enjoy the ride.
This post is sponsored by Pampers Cruisers.