Being a parent is silently agreed to experience an ongoing series of surprises of variable pleasantness. Sometimes it's, "Surprise! Your baby reached for you and said 'Mama' for the first time!" and other times it's, "Surprise! Your son flushed your wedding ring down the toilet on purpose!" There are lots of things to discover about parenthood, and there are some things only a second child can teach you.
In my experience, once you've had one baby you've had them all, so to speak. A lot of what you go through with number two is going to be familiar... all too familiar, in some cases. For example, you'll find yourself working an eight hour day on four hours of broken sleep and just naturally adapting because, yep, you remember that you've done this song and dance before. In other words, it's like riding a bike.
Your perspective is, at times, going to be wildly different, though.
It's not that parents of only children are having an incomplete parenting experience. And I'm not saying that every child is the same, because clearly that isn't true either. It's just that having more than one child is its own unique experience, so having a second child brings around some realizations you may not have come around to with just the one. Take, for example, some of the following scenarios:
You Went Overboard Last Pregnancy
From agonizing over which overpriced bedding you want, to purchasing too many tiny outfits your child will only wear once (all of them impractical) to, yes, the 17-page birth plan... it was a lot. And hey, how were you to know? It was your first time going about any of this! Not only is there a lot you don't know, there's even more you don't know you don't know.
This time around, however? You're a lot more reasonable, experienced, and know that no one needs a wipe warmer.
You Forgot A Lot When It Comes To Infants
You're all smug and confident about how you're an Experienced Mom now, but as soon as your second baby is born you're like, "Oh god, how am I supposed to get you to sleep again? How did I convince my other kid to sleep?! How does this work, again?"
It comes back to you pretty quickly, but a lot of the intricacies and details will take you by surprise for a bit until you remember them.
How Far You've Come As A Parent
Conversely, there will be some things that seemed so difficult the first time around — and they were! — that are second nature to you now and that is the best possible feeling. Yeah, you're going to forget some of the details, but overall it's like riding a bike.
How Enormous Your Firstborn Is Now
"I ALWAYS THOUGHT YOU WERE MY ITTY BITTY BABY BUT THIS BABY IS SO MUCH ITTY BITTIER AND WHO THE HELL EVEN IS THIS GINORMOUS ADULT HUMAN?!?!"
Honestly, my son's legs (which, compared to children his own age were actually pretty short) felt like they were 40 feet long after my daughter was born.
"They're Probably Fine"
I'm not saying you don't worry as a second-time parent (you're still a parent), and I'm not saying there aren't individual cases where a person might worry more. I'm just saying that, on the whole, it seems like people are slightly less paranoid the second time around, because you know from experience that every sniffle and sneeze isn't an allergy to air and a gentle cough isn't tuberculosis.
The Joy Of Reusing Baby Clothes
Not only do you feel thrifty AF, you feel ALL the feels seeing your younger child wear the same outfit your older child did. It's like, "OMG MY BIG BABY WAS ONCE SO LITTLE AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH AND NOW I LOVE THIS BABY JUST AS MUCH AND IT'S LIKE THIS ONESIE REPRESENTS THAT SOMEHOW!" And then you sob and devour anything you can get your hands on, because the only thing you can do with feelings this big is eat them.
There's nothing quite like it, I can assure you.
The Opportunities To Feel Guilty Are Limitless
You think listening to one baby cry made you feel like a trash human? Try listening to TWO babies cry and you can only tend to one at a time! This is just one common scenario you will come across as a mom of two. There's also feeling like you're ruining your oldest child's life because you can't focus exclusively on them anymore, as well as feeling like your second-born is neglected because they will NEVER have your undivided attention literally ever!
The Joy Of Two Napping At Once
It's rare and it's bliss and you literally won't know what to do first.
The Beauty Of Double Snuggles
OMG, it's so nice. Somehow they are able to find perfect spots on your body to just melt into and it's like, "OMG my favorite part of the world is all right here, so perfectly meshed together and cozy. This is awesome."
Inevitably, one of your adorable children will take a massive crap or elbow you in the eye and the whole thing will be ruined, but #worthit.
Your Heart Grows
You probably guess that you're going to love baby number two as much as you love your first, but you can't really appreciate the depths until they're in your arms.
Every Child Is Different
It's amazing how two kids, raised in the same family, probably from the same genetic materials, can be so incredibly different. While my kids have a lot of similarities (for, I'm sure, all the reasons listed above), from their births they've been wildly different.
So while having one baby prepared me for having a second, having my son did not necessarily prepare me for having my daughter. But, honestly, watching these two people grow up to be their own unique individuals has been the best part of being a mom of two.