So you've just welcomed your second child into your family. You're in love, delighted, and just about as crazed by this enormous life change as you were the first time around. Still, something is different. Where are all the people asking you what you need? Where are the "experts" offering help? Come back, everyone! We still need you! Look, you may have one baby under your belt, but there are things you should never feel ashamed to ask for as a second-time mom.
By and large, most people don't make as big a deal about the arrival of your second child as they do your first. Oh sure, your family and closest friends will probably be just as excited, but everyone else? Not so much. I get it. When you're having your first child, everyone is not only excited about the new baby, they're excited to witness your transformation from regular ordinary human to mother. (Whatever they think that transformation entails and, to be sure, what it actually entails will vary from person to person.)
Once you're a mother people assume you, like so many mothers, have the magical ability to always know what you're doing, keep it together, and be completely self-sufficient. Except OMG, are you kidding me? No! Not at all! There's so much that life with a new baby requires that's difficult no matter how many children you've had. Try not to be too bitter about their obliviousness. It's just that you come across as so capable they figure you've got this on your own. Never feel ashamed to dispel them of that notion, or to ask for any of the following:
For Someone To Watch Your Older Child
If you're anything like me, the guilt will eat you alive on this one and definitely when you first consider it. You might already feel bad that you're stripping your firstborn of their "only child" status, and now you're considering letting someone else care for your beloved little one so you can focus on another child? It can be a tough pill to swallow. But, seriously? From someone who has been there? Do it.
Our son was in preschool/daycare before our daughter was born and we continued to send him while I was on maternity leave. Best. Decision. Ever. It allowed me to bond with my infant and actually heal from having given birth. Plus it kept him in his familiar routine, which is definitely a good thing for a toddler. However, even if this isn't your eldest's usual M.O. and you need to call in backup (a babysitter, aunt, or grandparent, perhaps), it's still a good move and one you should absolutely not feel ashamed of.
I know: it was hard enough to muster any of this mythical "alone time" with one kid, and now you have to figure out how to sneak away when you have two?
It's not easy, especially with a newborn, but it's important and worth any effort it takes to make it happen. You don't have to traverse the globe for an extended voyage, but even ensuring that you have once a week with a cup of coffee and a magazine can be the difference between a harried mama and one who feels like she can hold it together until next coffee/magazine time. Everyone is better off when mama feels like she can hold it together, so, if you can't do this just for you (which would be completely justified), think of it as an investment in the overall health and well-being of your family.
Time And Space To Rest And Heal
This is different from alone time. Someone unaccustomed to either, however, may not recognize the difference. Alone time caters to your need for mental well-being. Time and space to rest is focused on your physical well-being and recovery.
If you gave birth, your body has been through a damn ordeal. Healing isn't just waiting to feel better: it is something that will take concerted effort on your behalf (since, left to your own devices, you'll probably try to do too much too soon, simply because you're a mom of two and you have a lot on your plate). You don't necessarily have to be alone to rest, but you have to be left alone.
A Chore Buddy
Because housekeeping is, necessarily, going to fall to the bottom of most people's lists when a new baby comes around. Cooking, cleaning, tidying, mowing, fixing: whatever needs to be handled (and it does still need to be handled to some degree) can be handled by someone else for a little while as you get your bearings.
There is zero shame in asking someone to step up in the domestic maintenance and sanitation department after you have a second kid.
Time To Settle In Before Welcoming Guests
This is a completely reasonable request for someone who has had a first baby, but it may be even more important for someone who is on their second. Not only do you and your infant need to find your groove, but so does your firstborn. Having a million people milling about the house cooing over the new baby might make life with Baby Number One an overstimulated, tantrum-throwing Hell. Hey, or not. Maybe having a lot of people over to distract Numero Uno from the fact that mommy has another baby is a good thing. It depends on you, your baby, your kid, and your guests. Don't feel bad asking time to figure out how and when you want to make that work.
Just because you've done this whole mom-ing thing before doesn't mean you're an expert on this new infant. Every baby is different and, sometimes, your old standbys that worked like a charm with your first will get you precisely nowhere with your second. There's no shame in even a seasoned mother asking for the help of a doctor, sleep expert, lactation consultant, postpartum doula, or anyone else whose job it is to make her life easier.
Don't hesitate to make a call just because you believe you "should know already." You don't. That's fine. You're learning new things every day. Admit you don't know so that this can be one of the things you learn.
A Baby Carrier
Honestly, if you didn't jump on the babywearing wagon the first time around now is the time. I don't know how I would have managed to do anything after my daughter was born if I had not been wearing her in a wrap approximately 75 percent of the time for the first six months of her life.
To Be Graded On A Curve For A Little While
Adjusting to life being outnumbered (or, if/when you're parenting with a partner, evenly matched) by children is tough. Everything takes longer. (Longer?! How can things possibly take any longer than they did after I had the first kid?!) Everything is more expensive. Everything is a little bit more exhausting. Everything requires a little more space. Everything takes a little bit more to figure out and manage.
As such, don't be ashamed to be upfront with that fact. Tell your friends, family, and even co-workers that you appreciate their patience as you find your bearings and balance. This doesn't give you carte blanche to be an inconsiderate flake, but be realistic as you work to find your happy place and ask your loved ones for kindness and understanding.
Encouragement And Validation
Just ask B.F. Skinner's pigeons: positive reinforcement is magic. We bestow it upon our own children to reinforce good behaviors and build their self-esteem. The principle doesn't stop working once someone enters adulthood. So often, the moms are so amazing that the hard work they do seems natural and effortless. But, as moms everywhere well know, it is anything but effortless. If no one is validating all the hard work and grit you're putting into this whole two-kids thing: ask for it. Help get someone in the habit of standing in awe of you. Seriously, if I can muster up an, "Oh wow! What a great job!" every time my toddler takes a crap to encourage her to use the potty, someone can manage to tell you you're great every now and then.
Insisting On Designated Snuggle Time With Both Children
Because the best part about having two kids is cuddling two kids, amiright, ladies?