Some things ARE easier with more kids! The anticipation of the second baby does bring a whole new set of worries, that did not exist the first time. We just got used to taking care of one baby, how are we supposed to take care of two??!! How can I give the second baby enough attention? Will my toddler be jealous and attack the baby? Wait a minute, how can I sleep when the baby sleeps if I have a toddler?!
As my second baby Ellis turns 8 months old, I have experienced some of the fears to be completely warranted. But even though there are some things that are harder, the things that are easier are so important to remember and can really make life better while parenting two kids. There are adjustments and life is totally different. Just like everything changed when you had baby #1, it changes again. A whole other baby is a big deal! You adjust, just like you did before. How? The experience, instinct and confidence that only a seasoned mom can have. This is my personal experience of things that are easier and better the second time around.
My first baby Miles was finally put in my arms after a long 3 days of labor. I immediately froze. I looked up at my mom and said, “I don’t even know how to hold a newborn. How am I supposed to do this?” My feelings of anxiety and nerves overwhelmed my feelings of happiness. I had no experience with newborns. Then we try to initiate breastfeeding, and again- no clue what I’m doing. I felt so awkward not knowing how to position him so that he could latch. Another wave of doubt- frustration and nervousness that I won’t be able to feed my baby and I won’t be able to figure this out. Yes, I was happy and excited to be a mom but all of these worries and anxieties were clouding the joy and it was hard for me to just be present and enjoy the moment.
When Ellis was born 20 months later, labor was so easy. LOL. No it wasn’t, it still sucked, sorry! What was different though was when Ellis was put in my arms. I looked up at my husband and just smiled. The magical fact this time around is my confidence in being a mom. I had done this before. When I looked at Ellis, I was just happy- nothing else. An overwhelming feeling of happiness. I knew how to hold and take care of a newborn baby. I had figured out how to breastfeed. Was I still nervous about this new baby and how our lives would change? Definitely. I had time to worry about that later. In this moment, the nerves didn’t matter and I could just be present, soaking in this new little being.
My first got many things- the excitement of being a new mom, all of my undying attention for almost 2 years. My second gets my confidence though, and with that, an ability to enjoy the tougher moments because I had overcome them before.
The motherly instinct did kick in with Miles….eventually. I had it from the beginning with Ellis. I’m not researching every tiny cough or noise while he was sleeping. Or forget researching, I’m not losing sleep staring at the monitor- debating to go back in the room to check if he’s still breathing! Or if he is going to stay cross eyed, if that rash is ever going away or if a visit to the ER necessary. I’m able to decipher what his cries mean, not always of course, but I can usually tell if it’s a sleep, hunger or discomfort cry.
I haven’t been obsessively looking for milestones, but enjoying them when they come. You know they are going to figure out how to sit up, crawl and walk. I work with Ellis on these things, but I watched Miles like a hawk to see when anything new happened. Honestly, there’s just no time for that now!
I understand more that phases come and go. As I got up in the middle of the night those first few months, while still hard, I know that it does eventually end. Trust me, I need my sleep. Not being able to catch up in the day because there is a toddler to take care is not always fun. This too shall pass. I won’t always be getting up at night so why not enjoy all these little things as they come. Those nights were usually the only times Ellis and I got to bond on our own.
With Ellis, I have tricks in my arsenal! He tries to fight my sleep hold, but sorry honey I know this works like gold and you are going to fall asleep very soon. Blowouts are still the worst thing ever. But I’m not going to walk out of Target if he has one (yes this happened). I always bring an extra pair of clothes, or maybe two.
When Miles was a week old, I tried to wear my moby wrap for the first time. You know the longest piece of fabric you’ve ever seen, with multiple steps on how to put it on. I lost it. Like, I might have started crying and thrown it across the room. Drama, I know. It was complicated and I was so overwhelmed with the idea of having to put that on and take Miles outside. Now I can put it on like nothing! I know my favorite carriers for different phases of their first year.
And that is just the beginning. Think of all the uncertainties and insane amount of new things you had to master. The second time around you can just work on perfecting them. Yes, things will be completely different. There are tough adjustments. There are times that are so busy, because they both have their own individual needs and you have to navigate them simultaneously.
The experience, confidence and instinct that you already developed are priceless. I know there will be even more tough times alongside the great ones, but it’s completely worth it.
What do you think was easier with the second or subsequent children?