Baby No. 2

Story by Patricia Merrick

Spring 2024

Raising children is no easy job. It requires around-the-clock work and many, many hard days.

My first child has always been a challenge. He was born with a cleft palate and underdeveloped jaw, and I wasn’t prepared for an emergency C-section and two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

We brought him home days before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we were isolated for months. I pumped milk every time he ate because he wasn’t able to breastfeed. By the time I would feed him, put him down, pump and wash all the parts, it was almost feeding time again.

He had colic. My husband was an essential worker, so it was just me taking care of Brandon most of the time. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs because I couldn’t take the crying anymore, and running into walls because I wasn’t getting enough rest.

As Brandon got older, he started having extreme tantrums that were so hard to manage, his paediatrician suspected autism. He was diagnosed with global developmental delay instead.

Brandon has been my biggest challenge, but also my biggest reward. And, as much as I didn’t feel ready to do it all over again, my husband and I wanted our babies to be close in age, so, two-and-a-half years later, our daughter, Summer, was born.

Summer was born with a cleft palate and underdeveloped jaw, too. She also spent two weeks in the NICU and both she and Brandon had reconstructive surgery at 15 months. It was a lot to take on between the two of them.

Even though it seemed impossible, I’m so grateful we were able to have our babies close together. There is nothing better than watching them bond as siblings. And our daughter was a completely different baby, so, even though she was born with medical needs, too, she has been an easier experience overall.

They are absolute besties and are always playing, hugging and making each other laugh. They have similar interests, they complement each other and bring each other down to earth. I truly believe they needed each other.

Stacking hard times on top of hard times with Baby No. 2 was a challenge I would 100 per cent do all over again, because the reward is definitely worth it.