Twice in the last year, my partner and I have prepared for a second baby. And twice in the last year, that second baby hasn't arrived. That's the peril of adopting with a primarily foster agency, and something that can happen no mater how you're trying to build your family. While it's been an emotional time for our family, it has helped me perfect my life of exactly what every mom should do before having a second baby. Heck, not everyone gets to prepare for that twice, right? #SilverLinings
And there certainly was a silver lining to enduring a difficult disappointment that was two failed adoptions in one year: I got a ton of intentional quality time with my daughter, thinking that it might be the last time she was my only child. She was still pretty young, so we took lots of walks and spent a lot of time wiggling around the floor. Even though we didn't do anything outrageous together, it was such a great reminder to get down on the floor and just soak her in, even when the laundry was beeping to be folded and the bottles were starting to get stinky in the sink. Those extra moments were such a blessing and, because I took the time to soak her in before impending babies arrived, I feel like I have her tiny toes and fingers and giggles imprinted on my brain.
I have to admit, though, that one thing on this list escaped me: completing her baby book. In fact, I've had a hard time starting it, even more than a year after her birth. I have a feeling it has something to do with just diving in, but there's something so monumental and long-lasting about a baby book that adds tons of pressure to the task. So, if you're expecting your second baby soon, have a peek at this list. While you're at it, I'm going to take a crack at that darn baby book once and for all!
Get Your First Baby Sleeping Through The Night
As much as humanly possible, get baby number one sleeping. I know that's easier said than done, but if you know you're going to be up with a newborn soon (again), getting your first baby on a reliable schedule will make it easier than juggling two non-sleeping minis at once.
One of the reasons we knew we could take on new foster babies, even when our daughter wasn't yet a year old, was because she was already sleeping through the night. We knew we wouldn't be up with both babies at once for a significant amount of time. No. Freaking. Way. Voluntarily taking on two babies up multiple times a night seems like a particular kind of martyrdom I definitely wasn't ready for.
Soak Up Your First Baby
Twice in the last year, we've thought we were going to be taking home a newborn from the hospital in the coming weeks, only to find out that the birth mom had changed her mind.
However, in getting ready for that big family change, the best thing we did was to soak up everything about our first baby and spend tons of quality time as a family of three. I took our daughter on little special dates (if your child is older, you could try the zoo or the local children's museum or even a cookie shop), and I made sure to just sit with her and play even when I knew there was cleaning or tidying I would typically be doing.
Finish Your First Baby's Baby Book
Baby books aren't everyone's thing, but if you have one sitting on the shelf, take a few nights to actually fill it in. Once you're juggling two children simultaneously, that time will be better spent sleeping while they're sleeping.
Plus, remembering all the little details about your firstborn child's first year is a lovely walk down memory lane that will get you all excited (as if you weren't already) for baby number two.
Decide What Gear Goes And What Gear Stays
On the practical side, there are a few things worth ticking off your list early. First, decide what baby gear you loved and what you either need to replace or find a better alternative. There might have been technological advances in baby gear since you had your last baby, so it's worth checking out a few sources to see what might make life with two just a little bit easier.
Order New Basics
Make sure you invest in just a few fresh basics for baby number two. Things like burp cloths, fresh white onesies for the early days, and washcloths are going to be essential. They'll make a huge difference if you're relying on hand me downs from your first child or relatives and friends.
Check The Car Seat Expiration Date
Just to be on the safe side. It's the one main thing you need to be in order to get yourself home from the hospital and you don't want any hiccups. It's also one thing that parents do forget to check in the run up to a second baby.
Also, make sure to check the batteries in any swings you might use. That's the last thing you want to be looking for when you want to put baby number two somewhere soothing, so you can get a little Lego time in with baby number one.
Secure A Babysitter
Get a babysitter and go out for a date with your partner. In fact, go on at least a few before you have a new baby. The first several months with a newborn are intense, even with the second baby, and you might not have as many opportunities for quality time with your partner for a while.
Have grandma stop by for an hour or two and go out for lunch, or get a little dressed up and head to an old favorite dinner spot.
Take a Cozy Nap With Baby Number One
I'm not sure this would be possible with my daughter, as napping is sort of a solitary thing for her unless she's sick, but doesn't that sound cozy? A blissful afternoon nap snuggled up to your firstborn like you did in the old days is the dream.
This one might be a stretch, or reflective of how in need I am of any kind of nap right now, but it does sound like something there might be less time for with baby number two squawking around.
A haircut, a manicure, and a pedicure sound like over-played pregnant mama activities, but certainly will be much easier to squeeze in before you upsize your family.
Make A Plan For Grocery Shopping
When we had foster babies in our home, in addition to my infant daughter, grocery shopping was the bane of my existence. Before you have baby number two, make a grocery shopping plan. Have them delivered, leave the babies with your partner, and get the hell out of dodge for a few hours one night a week, or send your partner off with a big ole' list and one of the kids. Whatever the plan is, it bears making before you run out of Cheerios a few weeks into being a mom of two.