My second son is almost 4 months old. He's doing great. I'm doing great. This is significant, because my first son's infancy was one of the lowest and hardest points of my life.
I am loathe to write anything that says "I love my kid, but...", and still it needs to be said. I wouldn't ever blame the kid. It's not the kid's fault. He was a difficult infant, and is a challenging child, but he's also wonderful and smart and unique and funny, and has not had an easy go of things. The very first thing that happened with my older son was they whisked him away to the NICU, where I was left in a hallway by myself unsure if my new son was breathing or OK for about 3 hours. Then, over the course of the next year or so, I devolved. He wasn't a happy baby. He never slept in car seats or strollers. He never sat contentedly like those damned babies on TV. Or those other babies we'd see in life. If we got 30 minutes of happiness out of him, we were over the moon. I'm probably overstating it, because I'm sure there are worse babies, but what I learned was that I was not, at the time, at all equipped to deal with it. The lack of sleep and the utter disruption of everything we knew as our life nearly cracked me. My wife and I weren't getting along, and I was pretty well depressed for a while.
It wasn't supposed to be like that, and even though I'm smart, and should know better, and all things must pass, and all that, it ground me right down. I've got my own dad issues (shocking no one who knows me), and wanted to be so good at being a dad. I think that shot me in the foot too, not living up to my own expectations of myself. Basically, it was the hardest period of my entire life.
It turns out that the boy is quite unique, with a temperament made up of large parts of me and my wife, and that has its difficulties. It also turns out that he couldn't see very well for a long time, and that had long term effects on his life. After he got treatment, and started to move around on his own, and communicate, the real boy came out, and I wouldn't trade him for anything.
But given all that, why on earth would we opt to have another kid? That is an excellent question, and I'm in no position to answer it. I couldn't tell you why I agreed to it. I know I didn't spearhead the cause.
Now, the baby is 4 months old, and when people ask me how it's going, I say, "great." I've heard people remark in astonishment that I seem like I'm in a good mood, like it's some odd thing. I guess it is. I must have been pretty awful for that to be considered the norm.
As soon as I found out my wife was pregnant, I got happy. It's always easier to embrace the idea of something, rather than deal with the reality though. I'd been through this before. Sure, there's some hesitation, but largely, I love the pregnancy phase. There's possibility there.
He showed up about 4 weeks early, but unlike before, all went smoothly. It was cathartic. When we were given the hospital tour, both my wife and I teared up with stress memories entering the delivery rooms. But when the boy came out perfect, with no complications, it all went away. For years, I couldn't talk about my older son's birth without choking up. It did a severe number on me.
Then when we came home, I was entranced by this boy. So was my other son, for what it's worth. He is a fantastic older brother. And the baby loves seeing him more than anyone else in the world. It's magic. This time out, I did almost all of the overnight and early morning feedings. Last time, I mostly left that to mom, because she slept more lightly than me, and would always wake up and take care of this. This time, I put her in another room, with earplugs, and woke her only when needed. I did lose sleep this time, but they were also the best times. I'd feed the baby. I'd watch something on my iPad, and we'd just be together.
In fact, and this is the part that gets me, I'm going to miss this infancy. I'd never have said that the first time around. This baby just makes me happy. I'm guessing I've gotten frustrated with him, maybe twice, when he wouldn't sleep or something. That's a ridiculously low total, given my past record.
Other differences... we don't live in New York anymore, and the house has some more space. We're both still working from home, but we're not in the same room all the time. I'm getting pretty regular exercise on my bikes, which is a massive lifestyle change for me, and it is understood that I'm much less horrible if I can get some riding in. My job situation has changed for the better. I have more friends. In real life. And I obviously have perspective. I didn't have that before, even though I wanted it.
So that's where we are, and it's good. It's not easy. It's not always perfect, but it's 180 degrees different than before. Most of that is on me, meaning, I think it was my fault, and the crushing weight of responsibility and guilt compounded for too long internally in someone who didn't know what was coming.
I'm not bragging on it. I'm sharing, because I'm happy, and I have to think there are others out there going through something very similar.