I was just thinking today about how different it is to become a mom the second time around. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
- Babies are not as physically fragile as we think they are. Having a rambunctious toddler around proved this to be a fact pretty darn quickly. (Moms of boys, please point out to Older Brother that is not yet old enough to play catch).
- Nursing is way easier the second time around. Actually, just about all of baby care is easier. I think it has to do with simply having some experience and thus confidence that we lack with the first one.
- You need way less than you think you do. With the first, I was obsessed with collecting everything we’d need for the first 20 years of that child’s life. I now know that baby clothes are indeed washable so you do not need 50 items of clothing per size. Secondly, you are in fact mobile and able to leave the house (and will probably want to) as soon as 4 weeks with baby should you need to purchase something else for the baby. Seriously, new moms- don’t over buy. It’s smarter to wait.
- I savor each moment of development. With my first, I wanted to rush him so that I could experience the next stage of development. In the beginning, I wondered if he would ever let me put him down. Then he started crawling and would never let me hold or snuggle him much at all ever again. I know this now. I make it a point to savor each minute he is (even at 2am), to kiss his little cheeks as often as humanly possible, and snuggle with him as if my life depends on it. I finally understand the meaning of, “They are only little once. Enjoy it while you can.” It’s so true!
- I’m much more relaxed. It is not the end of the world if he fusses for 2.5 seconds while I grab some water before settling down to nurse, I know he’ll stop fussing the instant he sees the boob. No worries there. He also gets his quick baths with me (see #1 above) and actually loves it. I put him on my lap, wash his hair, spray him down with a little mild soapy water, then submerge his freshly washed chub under the water up to his chest until he is squeaky clean. Then I hand him off to dad and enjoy my bath. Easy-peasy.
- The love really does multiply, but your attention is divided. This is a hard fact that I had to learn to accept. Loving both of them the same makes it hard to face, but these itsy bitsy ones simply have to come first most of the time. So I try to
loudest protestingone and then make it a point to focus on Big Brother immediately afterwards. I tell him I love him a million times, sneak hugs, steal kisses, and talk to him as much as possible. Just whatever it takes to make sure he still feels loved and not left out of things. (Playing a game of catch with a is a great game to play with Big Sibling while nursing, by the way).
things out by first taking care of the littlest
- “Sleep when your baby sleeps” doesn’t really apply to round two, unless you want to wake up to your walls covered in sharpy marker ‘art’ by your three year old. Instead, the new motto is, “Pray like crazy that those two will fall asleep, and stay asleep, at the same time.” I am still in the newborn phase, so I can’t speak for older children, but at this time I am still crazy tired during the day. This is supposed to get better as baby sleeps more at night. In the meantime, I’m just grabbing on to Motherhood and holding on for dear life. I’ve reduced my supermom standards to A: Keeping both kids alive, fed, and (mostly) dressed (does it have to match?). B: Managing the house enough so that we all have at least one pair of clean underwear available, something edible to eat at dinner time, and keep the floors picked up enough to prevent major accidents from falling or worse, stepping on a lego (ouch). Everything else can wait.
- Baby #2 will mostly fit into Big Sibling’s daily routine/schedule, so make sure you like the routine that the first child is in. Seems simple enough, but I def recommend putting some serious thought into this. The exception is nap time. If child #1 sleeps in the middle of the day, and baby naps each morning and early evening, then you are not going to be able to get much done without having to tote around at least one seriously cranky, overtired child. Consider moving big sibling’s nap to morning or early evening so that it increases the chance of both being asleep at the same time.
- Team work with the spouse is more important than ever before. Sure there are single parents out there who have no choice but to do this child rearing thing completely on their own, and someone really rich (Hellooo Mr. Gates) needs to send them all on a childless cruise for a week for their efforts. But I never intended to be a single mom and I’m not shy about asking for help from the hubs. My philosophy is that women are no different from men (aside from the obvious), this means that men are perfectly capable of changing a diaper at 2am, giving a child a bath, and nursing the baby every 3 hours around the clock. Ok, maybe not nursing, but they can definitely do just about anything else the kiddos require. The hubs and I are still figuring the details out, but we are both contributing as much as we can to get the 1,001 things that needs to be done each day done.
- You have about twice as much to do in half the time, but 3 times the joy. I’m mathematically challenged, but here is how I figured that last part. With two children, you have the added joy of the love of a second child, plus the joys of watching your two children interact, then you have the joy of watching your spouse interact with both of them. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that Nathan and Zane will have each other long after C and I are gone. They will be the only two people on this planet who witnesses each others Life Stories from the very beginning. They are brothers, and that is an incredible experience that I am glad they can each experience. I also love watching C navigate the now familiar waters of Fatherhood. I love seeing his confidence as he guides tiny arms through impossibly small sleeves and expertly doges streams of pee that the baby randomly discharges every other time he get’s his diaper changed. Yes, being a mom of two is harder than just having one child, but it is seriously worth every single exhausting minute of the day and night. So if you are wondering if you should have a second child, take the plunge and go for it. You’ll love having the second one just as much as your first, and life will be all the better because of it.