Last year my spouse and I finally felt like we had it all together. After many failed attempts at bribery my 2.5 year old daughter was potty trained. No more diapers. No more diaper bag! We felt so free- we could just all walk out the door and go. And then we decided: Hey, this is too easy… We should make another little poop factory! And so our son was born in February.
I was not prepared for how a second child would turn my life upside down and inside out. These are the things I wish I knew before we embarked on this journey:
It Won’t Be the Same
Your life won’t be the same as when there was only three of you. Your relationship to your first will have to grow and bend and change and one to one time with him or her will be non-existent at least in the beginning. There will be acting out. There will be jealousy. All you can do is try to love them up as much as possible, give them a role in the family to hold on to, and try to be understanding. This is a big transition for them too–they have to learn to share their “mama”.
You Don’t Get to Nap
This was a game-changer for me. When you have your first child, their nap time is your free time. You can choose to nap, get caught up on laundry, or watch yet another episode of Ellen. Getting up five times in the night didn’t seem like such a big deal when you knew the next day all you had to accomplish was A. feed baby B. change baby C. sleep with baby.
This goes out the window if you have another child home with you. When baby is up five times a night you still have to do all the things you normally do only on less sleep. You have to get up and make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, deal with tantrums, make crafts, go to playdates. This is especially hard if your older child is a non-napper like mine so you get zero free time during the day. If you have the ability to keep your older child in daycare once a week I would highly recommend it in the newborn stage.
Babies Hate Cars
This fact is not as important with your first child because you can ride out that stage by staying at home and enjoying your quiet time with your little baby with no distractions or commitments. Sorry to say if you want to keep your sanity you CANNOT stay home with your baby when you have a toddler/preschooler. Those little monsters will go stir crazy and nag you to death and tear your house apart.
Which means you need to plan, plan, plan. Plan your days ahead of time. Plan activities to keep your older child busy. When you do need to leave the house, plan to leave after baby has napped and fed. Unfortunately in the beginning babies feed and nap for most of their time, which pretty much leaves a 30 second window to make it to a play date or other event on time without them screaming all the way there.
And sometimes even when you think you have planned your trip perfectly… Nope! Welcome to the ride to hell, ie listening to your newborn infant scream all the way to the grocery store and back. Tell me, is having food to eat worth it? Really? Driving to soccer practices are just a fact of life now and will be a source of dread for many new parents of two. But it will get easier.
Coordinating time away to spend doing awesome adult things was difficult with one, but is next to impossible with two. If you are lucky like us to have grandparents nearby that love to babysit this makes it much easier…but it is still much harder to find care for two at once. Not to mention more expensive if daycare or babysitters are required. This makes you really appreciate the time you do get to spend on yourself. And it is much needed so please keep doing it!
Spouses Are Experts
As a spouse to an obstetrical nurse, my husband automatically took a secondary role when our first child was born. He deemed me “magical baby whisperer”; rarely requiring assistance and appearing to have it all together. In reality I had no clue what I was doing and felt very much alone. Enter baby number two. My husband is amazing! He is no longer afraid of breaking our baby, has no issues changing poopy diapers, will do dinners and bath times and even dreaded car rides. I am more willing to admit faults and ask for help and advice. We are equals.
Your Heart Will Grow
Deep down while pregnant with my second I was terrified that I would not be able to love another being as much as my first. My daughter and I had an immediate connection at birth and we also had a whole year to ourselves to cuddle, bond and figure each other out. With my second I had a very fast and painful delivery. I was in shock right after his birth and we did not have an immediate bond.
We were in the hospital for 24 short hours and then went home and had to figure out where everybody fit. It took a lot longer to develop a loving bond with my second because we didn’t get to have all that glorious one on one time. We had to do it on the fly, in all the chaos. It is a quiet love, the kind that sneaks up on you during the daily grind. No matter your story, you will learn to love them both.
I never imagined my life would be as busy as it currently is raising two children, but I just learned to acclimate. And so will you. The more time you put in, the more ways you will find to make life easier. Trust me, you won’t want it any other way.