Every child teaches you something new about yourself. It sounds contrived, but it's true. While some of the biggest shocks will hit you after the birth of your first, I would argue that there are things you can only learn about yourself after your second baby. Sure your life is going to change the most after that first little sucker enters the world, but the second brings a set of nuances and complications that you never once considered or even imagined. It's like a movie. Parenting: The Sequel. Sure there are going to be some familiar characters and plot points, but parenting a second child (and, to be sure, the second child themselves) is definitely its own thing, independent of anything else that happened before. It's a huge and sometimes scary adjustment: mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially.
And yet, it's entirely worth it (in my humble opinion).
After we had our second child, my partner and I both had the strangest sensation of, "Oh. Her? She's always been here. Like, this isn't anything new. We've always known her. We've just kind of been waiting for her to show up. Everyone is here now. Yay!"
In the two years we've had our second baby, she's continued to teach us a ton about ourselves, her brother, and our dynamic as a family. A lot of that, admittedly, has just been due to her unique personality and nothing to do with her birth order. However, her being our second in and of itself has really opened our eyes to a lot, especially in the early days. For example:
Your Capacity To Love Is Infinite
I’m not even going to tone down the schmaltz levels here because, well, it’s true. So many moms worry that they won’t be able to love their second child, or at least not as much as they love their first. How can you feel something that big for two people? But it happens.
Even if you always knew it was going to, the overwhelming power of it knocks you on your ass and destroys you in the best possible way. Just like your first child will always be special because they taught you just how much you can love someone, your second child will always be special to show you just how big that feeling can get.
How Much Downtime You Actually Had
Look, I’m not saying it’s a lot of time. In fact, you probably didn’t have all that much at this very freakin' moment. However, with two children, every spare second that you may not have even noticed before is going to be occupied.
Like the miller’s daughter in Ruplestiltskin, who was expected to spin straw into gold, you’re going to be expected to create more time out of thin air. And, like in Rumplestiltskin, it’s actually impossible unless you accept the help of an evil elf.
How Much You And Your Partner Relied On Your Numbers Advantage
My husband and I basically had to restructure most of our parenting techniques after our daughter was born because, so often, we worked in concert as a seamless and effective team. It was glorious. But if I was, say, breastfeeding my daughter, I couldn’t really stop what I was doing to help calm our son. Nowadays, when my husband and I only have to manage one child, we’re giddy in the knowledge that we outnumber them. We think back to when that was always the case with a kind of whimsical nostalgia. Look, it was never easy, but when there’s always someone else who can get your back (instead of, say, bathing your second child) it feels like a damn luxury.
This is, of course, if you are parenting with a partner. If you're doing this on your own: you're outnumbered now. May God have mercy on your soul.
How Much About Infants You'd Forgotten
From feeding schedules, to sleep patterns, to. “OMG what does it mean when her poop is slimy?!”, there’s a million things that got lost in the unfathomable amount of new information you’ve had to learn to raise your first child. While the learning curve isn’t as steep as it was when your first was little, it still very much exists (which can be a bit of a shock in and of itself).
How Luck Or Unlucky You Were First Time Around
We call our second-born our “gimme baby,” because it feels as though the Universe bestowed such an even-tempered, chill infant to us in an attempt to make up for the fact that our son was, well, decidedly not even-tempered or chill. I legitimately didn’t know a baby could be soothed so easily until my daughter entered the world. We often remark upon the fact that we would have been terrified if the order had been reversed and we’d gotten the difficult child after the easy one. Like, “What’s wrong with this kid?! Are they possessed?”
How Adorable A Child Interacting With A Smaller Child Is
Because ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! OMG! Look at the big one giving the little one a kiss! And the little one is holding the big one’s hand! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! THEY LOVE EACH OTHER AND I LOVE THEM BOTH AND THIS IS THE HAPPIEST I HAVE EVER FELT!
How Much Your First Has Grown
I find this is especially obvious when you change diapers, especially if your first is still in diapers. It’s like, “Your legs are so long and you can move on your own and wow your poop is different from itty bitty baby poop.”
Honestly though, it’s present every moment you see them side-by-side and think back to when your eldest, like your littlest, was basically just an adorable blob of fat and reflexes and now they’re, like, a person.
You're An Even More Skillful Juggler Than You'd Thought
You are somehow going to manage to fit even more stuff into your truly insane schedule. At first you will fumble, then you won’t really notice, and then one day you will look up and realize, “Holy crap, I’m actually doing this. How is this even possible? I’m awesome.”
Because the cosmos has a nasty sense of humor, you will then probably drop everything all at once and start sobbing. Don’t take it personally and don’t worry: you’ll have all your balls in the air again, and in no time.
What Your Top Priorities Really Are
As they say, something’s gotta give. Don’t worry, you will find balance and at some point you may be back to your own set of priorities plus all these new ones. For a while, though, you’re going to have to be kind to yourself while you get the hang of things.
How Broke You're Going To Be For The Rest Of Forever
Hahahahahahaha! You know what I’m doing? I’m laughing so I don’t spend the rest of forever crying over how ridiculously expensive two children are. #FML