Parenthood. Wow. It's a seriously hard job. You always hear people say that it's the toughest job in the world, and I don't think you really understand what they mean until you become a parent.
It took Josh and I a long time to make the decision to have a second child. I grew up with a sister, who is three years younger than me, so when I envisioned a family, that meant I'd have two kids. Well, after Oliver was born, I wasn't sure that another child would fit into the mix. Oliver was difficult. At the time, we didn't know it, but he was. This was our first and only experience with a newborn and everyone told us that what we were experiencing was normal, so we just thought we were ill-equipped at being parents, that maybe we had underestimated what it actually takes to be a Mother and a Father. As time went on, and we talked to more people who had kids, we finally stopped hiding the horrible experience we were having transitioning into parenthood and learned that we weren't alone. And also that Oliver was more challenging in some ways than other children. Oliver has grown up into an extremely intelligent, thoughtful, funny little boy. Once we saw what he had become, we thought we could handle another one. So after 3 years of deliberation and a little convincing on my end, we decided to go for it.
Henry Jack joined us a year ago on March 10, 2014. I broke down in tears when my water broke because he was a month early and I felt like I wasn't ready. Josh and I rushed to the hospital, where after a very quick and easy C-section, we met our beautiful baby boy #2. If you'd like to relive Henry's arrival again with me, take a look at the amazing photos friend and fellow photographer, Leah Haydock, took for me that night.
2014 wound up being the year of surprises for The Flanagan's. Our first surprise, after meeting Henry early, was watching Henry's big brother, Oliver, step up to the plate as the most amazing big brother anyone could ask for. To be fair, at first, Oliver was a little weary of this tiny, stinky lump of what would eventually be a human he could interact with. But he very quickly showed interest in taking care of Henry and participating in whatever activities Henry was doing. Oliver always wants to play with Henry and doesn't like to leave for school in the morning unless he gets to see Henry first. The same went for Henry. Henry was always excited to see Oliver, and once he could move on his own, always wanted to be right next to Oliver trying to do what he was doing, and probably trying to take the toys away from Oliver. Oliver recently told me, unprompted, that its so fun to have Henry living in the house with us.
The next surprise was that Henry was always happy. Even when he's tired, minus the days that he's sick or getting a new tooth, he'll flash you that smile that melts old ladies hearts, and lay his head down shyly on your shoulder. We did not experience this with Oliver. Oliver was hardly ever happy or content the first year of his life, so this was new territory. And we were enjoying every minute of it.
Henry continued to surprise us by playing by himself, contently, and quickly learned how to stand up, sit back down and crawl. He isn't walking yet, but I know it's just around the corner, although there's no rush!
Of course, sometimes there are a few tears...
...or a moment where the boys get in each other's way...
Even though there are days where I haven't slept enough, haven't eaten enough, haven't showered (yes it's true I work in my pajamas half of the time!), the house is a mess, and I feel like I can't do anything right, I know I can look over at Henry and without a doubt, he will flash his beautiful, wide, sweet smile, which will make everything okay. At least temporarily.
Henry, I can't wait to get to know who you are and see what the next year brings. Happy Birthday my little baby doll.