After 41 grueling weeks of pregnancy and a long multi-day induction, my husband and I recently welcomed a new baby girl, Kendall, into our family. From there it was inevitable, I was going to have to leave the hospital filled with helpful and caring nurses and delicious meals on-demand to head home and face life as a mother of two young children.
Kendall is a month old today, so I’m still new to life with two kids. That said, here are my thoughts so far on bringing home baby number two.
Foreigner lied: It doesn’t feel like the first time. When I gave birth to my first child it was the most all consuming and life-altering experience. Everything was so new and exciting and I fell in love with her so hard and fast it was blinding. It was a high unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. So naturally, and possibly foolishly, I expected that level of intensity again the second time. But it wasn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t love the new baby or that her arrival wasn’t important and special, because it was in its own way. I’m simply saying that it was different. While I was happy to meet our new baby and excited to see her face, candidly I felt a little let down when it was all over because, well, it just couldn’t compare to that moment when I became a mom for the first time.
It’s easier the second time around: The second time around you’re more confident – things are more familiar. I don’t feel the need to check to see if Kendall is breathing 147 times a day (I’m probably good for 3-5, but in my defense she’s a deep sleeper). I don’t overly sanitize my house or panic at every cry. I’m consulting Dr Google far less this time around. Because I’ve had a baby before and successfully kept said baby alive, I doubt myself less and trust my gut more. My mommy instincts are stronger this time around and it feels good to [almost] know what I’m doing,
It’s harder the second time around: Ah, life with a newborn and a toddler. It’s fun! My two year old loves her baby sister. She really loves her. In a very Lenny (of Mice and Men) sort of way. She likes to stand over her and yell “KENNIE…KENDALL…KEN…KENDI!!!” at the top of her lungs, usually right after I’ve gone to great lengths to get the baby to sleep – resulting in an awake and cranky baby. There are nights I’m up a lot with the baby and greeted in the morning by an active and energetic toddler looking to be entertained. That whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing – yea, that doesn’t really work this time around. My coffee consumption and ability to multi-task are both at an all time high.
It’s different the second time around: Each child is profoundly different and unique. This isn’t a groundbreaking revelation, at least it shouldn’t be. But it has been for me. Things that worked the first time aren’t working with this baby and I’ve had to be innovative and flexible with my approach. Bailey loved the pacifier and the white noise…Kennie does not. After a rocky start with breastfeeding, I nursed my first for 12 months, declaring myself a resident breastfeeding expert. This time around we have struggled, her latch isn’t the best, my supply has been different, I’m still learning her hunger cues. For all the confidence I have as a second time mom, I still have moments of humbling ignorance. I still ask a lot of questions and rely heavily on my village of mommy friends. There are multiple times each day where I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
Perspective is hilarious: Two months ago I was uber-pregnant with a toddler. Life felt full, busy, exhausting, bursting at the seams. By dinner time I was counting down to bedtime and by bedtime I was also in bed…dead tired. And now I look back on those days and think about how much time I had. I mean, I was sleeping through the night…every night. I had naptime. How was that hard? Now I get the toddler down for a nap and spend naptime dealing with the baby. The same can be said for bedtime. Our perspective is always changing and it’s a funny thing. I know in a year when Kendall is walking I’ll look back on this time and think “it was so much easier then.”
More Kids = More Guilt: I thought I was maxed out on guilt before, but it turns out I was wrong. Now not only do I have guilt about my career, but I have guilt about trying to divide my time between the two girls. When I’m playing with the toddler and the baby is crying I feel guilty. When I’m nursing the baby and missing out on bedtime stories – I feel guilty. In those rare moments when things are quiet and I want 5 minutes to myself I feel guilty. I read a lot of mommy blogs that talk about things like being still, being present in the moment, leaning in. Screw that nonsense…I’m just trying to survive the moment. And a big part of surviving is trying to let go of the guilt and grant myself a little forgiveness.
It’s a little chaotic at our house these days. As they always say, the days are long but the months and years pass quickly. What about you – what was your experience bringing home baby number two?