Bringing your first baby home can feel like a dream. It's as if you're the star in your own movie, the lead character in your own novel, and the beloved Queen of your very own castle, all at once. The same cannot, however, be said about bringing your second baby home. Not in my experience, anyway. Sadly, there's plenty of things no one says about bringing your second baby home from the hospital, leaving those of us with growing families completely out of the loop. Well, I say enough. It's time for me to spare you the pain I endured by telling you some cold, hard truths.
I couldn't wait to meet my second child; my beautiful son who came after two pregnancy losses, a difficult pregnancy, and a scary labor and delivery that almost killed us both. A sunshine baby if there ever was one, I swear the two of us formed an unbreakable bond as soon as I heard his heartbeat for the very first time. And of course, since I felt such a strong connection to him in utero I thought bringing him home would have been just as serene as the day I brought my daughter home. Turns out, I was so, so wrong. The afternoon I took him home from the hospital was an afternoon of harsh realizations, including but certainly not limited to the following: I didn't have the support I did when it was my first baby, I didn't have the ability to focus on just one child and one child only, and I didn't adequately prepare for feeling so alone.
Not all moms have the same experience with their second child, I'm sure, but I will say that rarely do we, as a culture, feel comfortable talking about motherhood in a realistic, no-filter, "ugly" way. But in my experience, knowing the realities of a potentially difficult situation is the only way to make it through to the other side. So with that in mind, here are some things about bringing your second baby home that, quite frankly, you should know. Like, immediately.
People Just Don't Care As Much
Anticipating the birth of your first child means constant check-ins, gifts, and an abundance of "what can I do to help?" inquiries from friends, family members, mild acquaintances, coworkers, and even a nosy neighbor or two. And since I didn't know what I was doing as a first-time mom, the help was welcomed and appreciated.
When I brought my second baby home, however, all that external excitement disappeared. Instead of being surrounded by supportive and joyous people, I was alone. I definitely wasn't prepared to have my second child's entrance into this world to be treated as a normal day instead of a huge, life-changing occasion. After all, it was.
There Won't Be A Big Party
When I brought my daughter home from the hospital we were met with an extravagant display of affection and support. In fact, there was a huge congratulatory yard sign in our front yard, and my partner and I were given ready-to-heat meals so we could focus on taking care of our newborn. It was glorious.
The day we brought our second baby home, however, none of these things happened. Instead, we had a daughter in need of attention and affection, and a new baby trying to adjust to life outside the womb. Instead of a party I was thrown into the realities of life as a mom with two children, and the learning curve wasn't forgiving.
No One Will Offer To Do Chores For You
After an incredibly traumatizing delivery, I did several loads of laundry and cooked a full meal for my husband and daughter while my newborn refused to sleep in his swing. No one offered to tend to the house or meals or chores or errands while I was recovering from childbirth, so I did all the damn things myself.
People Rarely Visit
I don't know what it is about subsequent babies, but people aren't as excited to see or hold them. Or something. I had to literally turn people away when I brought my daughter home. But after I brought my second baby home? Well, I had to almost beg for a visit. Oh well, their loss.
People Assume You're Experienced
I mean, yes, I had cared for a newborn before. But I had never cared for a newborn and another child simultaneously before. So while I was a "seasoned" mom, I was also a newb. Caring for two children is very different, and I wish the people around me had recognized the struggle and offered just as much, if not more, support than they did when I was a brand new mom.
Your Relationship Will Feel Non-Existent
After I brought a baby into the world, I knew my relationship with my partner would change. I wasn't prepared for another change after I had our second child, though. Now we had two children in need of our love, attention, and affection, which left little-to-almost-nothing else for the two of us.
We eventually found our way back to one another, but having a second baby definitely tested our relationship.
You'll Never Have Enough Hours In The Day
Now, I realize there are families with more than two children that do the balancing act with such grace, and trust me when I say I'm in awe of those families.
I am not part of one of those families, though.
When I brought my second child home it felt like I could never give enough of me to my two children. At least not in a way that felt fair and equal. In the beginning, and for more than a few months after the day I brought my son home, it felt like I was drowning.
You'll Get Through It
After all was said and done, the differences in how I was treated bringing my second child home versus my first were arguably the best thing that could have happened to my son and I. Since I was, for the most part, on my own, I was more attentive and focused and capable. I spent more time with my son, and my daughter, and less time with other people who were trying to help.
So yes, bringing home a baby for the second time will be different. But different doesn't mean it won't be fantastic.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.