When it comes to most major (and even minor) decisions, I need to have a plan if I'm going to feel comfortable moving forward. In order to appease this part of my personality, I make lists, conduct extensive research, and often second-guess myself 100 times before doing anything. So, when I had my first baby, I made some serious plans. I scoured mommy blogs and Pinterest boards to make sure that I had everything I needed.
I'm happy to report that I was prepared for my baby, at least when it came to having all the items on my registry check list. Honestly, I was probably a bit over-prepared, considering how few things newborns actually need.
Of course, everything since the birth of my first child hasn’t gone according to my extensive pre-baby plans. As a mom I have lived and learned, I've figured out what works via trial and error, and I've adjusted my plans accordingly and as I have discerned what works best for my family. But my tendency to be over-prepared resulted in my first child having damn-near everything she needed, and it helped me feel more confident as a first-time mom.
So, of course, when it came time to have my second child I thought I knew what I was doing. I agonized over the decision to have another baby — making pro/con lists and trying to time things just right — so when I decided to expand my family I was feeling extremely sure of that life choice. And when I did get pregnant and as my delivery date approached, I thought I had everything my second baby needed. My partner and I recycled as much as we could from baby number one's newborn days, then picked up a few things, like pacifiers and bottles, that proved to be invaluable the first time around.
I mean, I had a plan, and this was not my first rodeo. How much different could it be, right?
Then I came home from the hospital with a second baby, and realized I was completely unprepared. It turned out I knew nothing about having two kids. Nothing.
I think my biggest problem was over-confidence. I had been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. So, my through process went, I just knew what would happen next. I mean, I had a plan, and this was not my first rodeo. How much different could it be, right?
Umm, folks, it was totally and completely different.
Turns out, my story of having a second baby had as many plot twists and turns as an episode of Game of Thrones. For instance, it never occurred to me that my babies would be different or like different things. While my daughter weighed in at a tiny 6 pounds when we brought her home, her little brother was already over 8 pounds when he was born three weeks early. He ate around the clock for months, and quickly outgrew all of the newborn clothes. He hasn’t stopped growing since.
It was impossible to give my newborn the same amount of attention I had given his older sister, and it was impossible to be the same mom to my toddler that I had been before her brother was born.
My daughter lived for her pacifier, too. Which was great, because it gave me a break once in a while and helped her sleep and cope with challenging transitions. The only thing my son wanted in his mouth was my boob, 24 hours a day. I wish I was joking. I tried 12 different types of pacifiers and he hated them all. He would scream in anger until I latched him.
My daughter loved riding in the car — so much that we occasionally took her for a car ride to soothe her through teething or rough nap time struggles — but riding in the car with my second baby was a nightmare. Unless my husband drove, and I rode in the back seat squished between two car seats so he could see me at all times, my son just screamed. And if I did drive I had to sing his favorite song — Let It Snow — the whole damn time, lest I face his wrath.
In other words, no two kids are exactly the same.
It was also exponentially more exhausting to care for a newborn and an older sibling at the same time. Having a newborn is no joke, but having and caring for a newborn and a toddler was without a doubt one of the hardest things I've ever done. Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it was.
Motherhood is much more like a "choose your own adventure" story than a well-loved book with a set plot and predictable ending.
I felt pulled in two directions at all times, which left me feeling guilty all the damn time. It was impossible to give my newborn the same amount of attention I had given his older sister, and it was impossible to be the same mom to my toddler that I had been before her brother was born. So sure, I had the all the pacifiers and the bottles I could ever need, but I wasn't prepared to feel the constant weight of self-doubt, self-loathing, and internalized guilt. The first few months of being a mom to two children almost broke me.
Eventually, and thankfully, I did find my stride as a mom of two, but it required me to first and foremost admit that I knew nothing. I had to throw all my pre-conceived plans and expectations out the window, and accept the fact that buying baby gear is, for the most part, best done after baby number two arrives.
Motherhood is much more like a "choose your own adventure" story than a well-loved book with a set plot and predictable ending. And, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.