As I finally sit down to write a new post, I realize it’s been over a month since I have been able to write anything. A month! What has happened in that month? Oh yeah, I gave birth to our second daughter and man, I was not as prepared as I thought I was for the challenges that having both a newborn and a toddler present.
It’s 4:30am and I am woken up by the tiny cry of our second baby. She’s ready to eat. I get up, half asleep and sit down to feed her. Just as I finish feeding her, changing her and eventually getting her back to sleep, I lay down and close my eyes in hopes of getting just a few more minutes of sleep. This is when my three year old decides to get up. “Mommy, wake up!” she yells.
This is my new morning routine. It has been just over five weeks since I gave birth to our second child. My husband and I had always planned on having two kids and here we are, with two beautiful daughters just as we pictured it.
I thought it would be easier this time around. This time we would know what we were doing, we wouldn’t be afraid of every little noise our baby made, we would know how to change diapers, how to handle a newborn baby in the bath and how to feed her. I really didn’t give it a second thought when we talked about having a second child. It was so easy with our first daughter so why would this time be any different, right? Wrong.
These first weeks have been challenging, exhausting and, at times, have had me questioning whether or not I was ready to have two kids. I’ve experienced some pretty severe lows and also some really great moments. I know that all the hard times will be worth it in the end but there are some things I really wish I knew and had considered before having a second child.
Here is what I have learned so far:
1.) Your second baby will not be the same as your first baby
I am constantly having to remind myself that I can’t compare my second daughter to my first. Most likely, your second baby will be very different than your first. My first daughter was an incredibly easy baby. She was healthy, she never once spit up, she ate when and what she should, she slept good early on, she was happy and she almost never cried. She never had trouble with teething, never had a diaper rash and really didn’t experience much of the same issues that most babies deal with.
This experience obviously made me very optimistic about having a second baby but as I am learning, my second daughter is very different. She has a reflux problem and has a lot of pain after feeding sometimes. She cries a lot more and is much harder for me to figure out. It has been frustrating at times but what I’ve realized is that my frustration is coming from me expecting or wanting her to be more like her sister. When I remind myself that I need to be on her schedule and not expect her to be on mine, it helps me get through those tough moments. Learn to accept them for the beautiful and different baby that they are. The sooner you can do this, the easier it will be. (I am still working on this one.)
2.) Your toddler might regress backward for a while
I knew this was a possibility based on other parent’s experiences but I underestimated it. I just couldn’t picture our daughter acting this way but again, I was wrong. I’m slowly realizing that I was placing way too high of expectations on her and it’s perfectly normal for her to behave the way she is right now. She is much more whiny and pouty and has mastered a fake cry that wasn’t there before but I know it all comes down to the fact that she just needs attention. She is seeing this new person take some of it away from her so she then mimics what the baby is doing in hopes it will get our attention.
To help her, my husband and I are making an effort to do things alone with her. For example, she went to breakfast alone with me one day. Another day, my husband took her to the zoo. As long as we stay focused on making sure she doesn’t feel left out, I’m confident her behavior will return to normal.
3.) You will get even less sleep the second time around
You think you are prepared for the lack of sleep because you handled it the first time. You remember the nighttime feedings every few hours and the odd hours your baby decides to stay awake but you also know that you got through it. What I wasn’t prepared for this time around is that there’s no time to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Now, there is a toddler who needs my attention all the time. When the baby sleeps, it’s focus on the toddler time. To get through this, my husband and I will take turns waking to feed the baby while the other one sleeps. It also helps to remind myself that this period won’t last forever and soon enough my baby will start sleeping more through the night.
4.) You will need more help
With my first baby, I didn’t want any help. I actually preferred it this way. I wanted as much time to bond and be alone with my baby as possible before I had to return to work. I also didn’t feel like I needed any help. I got into a routine with my daughter early on and things just seemed to flow really well. With a second child, you don’t have as much extra time to take care of things. I’m finding myself needing more help this time around, mostly from my husband. I took care of most things when my first daughter was a baby. I did this because I wanted to. Now, I need more help – from my husband and from other family and friends. It can be really hard to ask for it sometimes but I’m finding that people close to me really don’t mind.
5.) You might cry – A LOT
These newborn days with my second baby are a completely different experience and to be completely honest, I’m not enjoying them nearly as much as I did with our first baby. The list of things to do is never-ending, alone time is almost completely gone now and I am constantly feeling some kind of guilt mostly due to worrying about not giving my toddler or the baby enough attention. It’s a constant juggling act and it is beyond exhausting. I break down in tears almost on a daily basis which never happened after my first daughter was born. It is still early on and I haven’t gotten into that flow yet and we don’t have a good routine. Once that is established, I’m hoping things will get a little easier to manage.
In the end, all of these struggles will be worth it – I get that and I really do believe that. Right now is tough though. What does get me through these hard days is just focusing on one thing at a time. I try not to let my brain start thinking of every little thing that needs to be done. I am also learning to ask for help. I have a newfound appreciation for my mom friends – the couple of very close friends I have that are also moms. It is so nice to be able to vent to another mom that gets what you are going through. Use your tribe – it is definitely what’s helping me survive these days.
What helps you get through the rough times?