Ain’t it always the way life goes: you finally think that you have everything figured out, and you get a good routine going with your first child… and then Life throws a curveball at your face. That’s what happened to us when we got pregnant with our second child. We were so ecstatic to see that positive test! But we were shoved out of our comfort zone all over again. In many ways, it felt like being a new parent for the second time.
Now that my hindsight is 20/20, I’d like to tell you about how our lives changed the second time we became parents.
If you don’t think that there will be a transition once your second child is born, you’re very wrong! It’s a big adjustment for both you and your significant other, and your first child.
No matter how old your first kid is, they need a long time to accept the fact that they won’t be the only one anymore. Have lots of discussions, read books together about siblings, and spend quality time with this child. If you’re in the midst of a new skill like potty training or weaning, expect this to probably regress for a little while. Your child may act like a baby in order to attract attention, and may be a bit more difficult. It’s their way of coping, and it’s totally ok. Try to be understanding and patient, as this new baby is gonna rock your eldest kid’s world.
Having a second baby will also be a big change for your marriage. You’ve already made it through one kid so I won’t discuss the basic stuff, but one baby was pretty doable after a while: there were two adults to one baby, and one of you could cook or shower while the other had the kid.
All that goes out the window with a new baby! And being prepared will help you a lot.
I think the biggest transition for both my husband and I is that it often feels like there is no down time. We very rarely get to be alone. I know that my husband, who works very hard for a school district, would love to just come home and kick back with a beer. But with two small children, that is just not possible. I usually have him spend time with the kids in the evening, so that I get some time to write and do chores without babies in tow. We’ve found a system which works for us, but it took a long time to get into a groove with two littles.
We also had to find a new normal (this is what I mean), and get out of our comfort zone. My husband is pretty conservative, and is a bit squeamish with stuff like diaper changes. Well, sorry buddy… with two kids, you’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty (sorry for the pun). To help each other out, and to keep our kids happy, we had to just dive in on any task which needed to be done.
One final thing which has become a challenge for us as a couple: sex. With one kid, it wasn’t that big of a deal – just wait until he’s asleep, and keep an eye on the monitor. With two, it’s a different story. Now we have to be more creative (especially since our kids sleep in our room!). I’ll tell you, having to be sneaky and sporadic can be fun and sexy, but we had to keep our communication open, and just go for it when the timing was right!
Each kid has to wait sometimes. The youngest won’t know any better, but it can be a rude awakening for your first born. They weren’t always used to having to share their Mama or Daddy with someone. Now our son can’t just jump into my lap whenever he wants, and he needs to play quietly when the baby is napping. This was a little difficult for him to bear, and part of me felt guilty because of that. Again, communication is paramount, so have frequent discussions with your oldest child about how things will change and what the new routine will look like.
Finally, I’ll note that due to juggling all these hats as a mom of two, I notice that my frustration sometimes gets the best of me. My baby doesn’t want me to put her down so I can put something in the oven; my son is being grouchy and trying to wake up the baby; the house is a mess and the baby is putting every piece of dirt in her mouth. I have to be very careful to keep my calm, and take “me” breaks so that I don’t snap at my three year old or get twitchy with my baby’s fussing.
If you’re still reading, good. I know that was a lot of bad stuff to get through. And I don’t want you to think “what have I gotten myself into?!” I’ll tell you truly, I was ecstatic to give my son a little sister, and I’m already daydreaming about more babies. So I promise you, adding to your brood isn’t all bad!
Firstly, my heart grew so much for my first child as I watched them bloom into an older sibling. My son adores his little sister, and he’s a natural: he’s so helpful, so kind, so gentle, and always wanting to learn or make her smile. It may seem silly to have so much pride for someone so young, but it’s completely true. He’s just amazing.
Secondly, having a child and being really pregnant kind of sucks. I was in a ton of pain due to sciatica and sacrum damage, and felt like a penguin who swallowed a watermelon. Most of my pain was gone right after I had my daughter, and caring for a newborn and another child is way easier than caring for a child and being uber pregnant.
Finally, it’s incredible to meet your next child, and see all the ways they’re like their older sibling… and how they’re their own person. My daughter looks just like the girl version of her brother, but she’s taught me from the beginning that she is an individual! Everything from having a different experience breastfeeding, to her mannerisms, and how she does things her own way.
If you’re considering having a second child (or if one is already on the way!), I hope that this has helped you have an idea of what to expect. We’re certainly on our toes around here, with never a dull moment. But I truly couldn’t be happier.
My heart never knew so much love was possible when my first child was born. Now that I have two children, my life is different all over again, but my heart has grown to hold infinite love for my baby daughter, too. Our life is crazy and beautiful!