It seems like from the moment you find out you're pregnant with your first baby, people start asking you about your second. It's almost expected that you give your baby a sibling, regardless. Personally, that was always part of my plan. I wanted more than one child, and figured I knew what I was getting myself into. Then I got pregnant with my second baby. Why did I think having a second child would be easier than having just one? OMG I was so unprepared. There are so many things no one tells you about having a second baby, and I found myself on a crash course toward learning all of them.
Turns out, no matter how much you think you know about parenting, it's not enough. Even having one child won't save you from the surprises another child will undoubtedly bring you. First of all, every pregnancy, birth, and baby is different, so history doesn't necessarily repeat itself. Then, there's the fact that parenting two kids is a hell of a lot harder than parenting just one. You only have two hands, one lap, so many hours in the day, and so much energy to expel. Take it from me: adding a second child to your family is a much harder transition than learning to incorporate one mini-human into your life. As is recovering from childbirth, since "caring for a toddler" and "resting" do not, I repeat do not, go together.
As hard as it was, though, I was a more relaxed parent the second time around. I cut myself some serious slack and was able to let some things go; the same things that seemed extraordinarily important when I was caring for my first baby. So if you are considering trying to conceive again, or you're happily expecting baby number two, read on for some surprises you're sure to face. Trust me: it's better you know now, rather than later.
Having my first baby was hard. So hard. I felt like I was drowning, I was holding myself to impossible standards, and I really struggled to maintain some sense of normalcy. Having a second child was different, though, in that it was easier because I at least felt like I was a seasoned mom who had been through the baby and toddler years. Then again, it was also more challenging, because you have to learn a whole new set of skills to be an effective parent of a baby and an older child.
It's totally OK to be scared sh*tless about having a second baby. After all, it's a big deal. Pregnancy is hard, child birth is scary, and parenting two kids is not for the faint of heart. It will definitely take some time for you to adjust, figure things out, and feel confident in your ability to be a mother to more than one child. And hey, that's OK. Take your time.
While my first pregnancy was relatively easy, my second pregnancy completely sucked. I had almost every complication in the book, and learned that just because I had a pleasant pregnancy the first time around, didn't mean anything would be the same the second time.
A few years later, I learned the same is true for third pregnancies, too. Yay.
Trying to parent a child when you're pregnant is the goddamn worst. From first trimester nausea and exhaustion, to third trimester aches and pains, and everything in between, it's no simple task. When I didn't have another child to care for, I could take naps and sleep in and worry only about myself. But with a child, I had to still be "on," even when I had my head in a toilet or my feet were swollen.
And if you have complications, like preeclampsia, that require bedrest, your parenting life will end up being even more complicated, too.
So yeah, as excited as my daughter was to have a baby brother, she regressed the moment he was born. I struggled to find a balance between caring for a newborn, recovering from childbirth, and giving her the attention she needed, which was at times felt absolutely impossible.
Having two kids is exponentially more difficult than having just one. Just when you think you've figured things out, you'll face an entirely new challenge, like trying to feed a baby with a toddler climbing on you, or changing a diaper while your previously potty-trained toddler poops in the corner.
Then there's the fact that you now have to figure out who will watch your kid when you go into labor, how you will get them there, and how to get them to da care or school while you are in the hospital. See also: how the heck are you going to take care of two kids once your baby is born.
In some ways, though, I was a way better parent when my second child was born. While I was inundated with another set of responsibilities, I was also way more relaxed. I figured out which things were important — keeping my kids alive,and taking care of my mental health — and which things weren't that important: pretty much everything else.
And thankfully, once your kids get a bit older they will start playing with and entertaining each other. And that, dear reader, is amazing.
My children are incredibly different from each other. They were different as babies and, now, are completely different kids. My daughter fell asleep easily and woke up twice a night like clock work, but my son would only sleep if he was touching me. It was almost jarring, to expect a child to be similar to the one you've been parenting, only to be holding someone wildly dissimilar and unique.
At first I thought that I would keep my older child home while I was out on maternity leave, but, you guys, it was hard. Life was much better when we figured out how to afford daycare and I asked for help from friends and family members. Because the truth is, every single woman needs help recovering after childbirth, whether she has one child, or 50 children. So ask for help.
I used to think that my love was as limited as my time and energy. So I was afraid that if I had a second baby, I wouldn't be able to love them as much as I loved my first. But once my second little one was born, I learned that my love for my kids is infinite. No matter what, I'm capable of giving them what they need to grow and learn and thrive.
I also learned that being perfect is not necessary. I am enough for my kids, and you are, too.
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