Wednesday, September 11, 2013
1. The Birth.
Okay, so this didn't really come true for me, but for many women, the second birth goes more smoothly than the first. Statistically, it is hours less than the first and is far less scarier because you know what to expect. Even in my experience, the part of labor I had experienced before was a whole lot less scary and seemingly less painful AND my second birth actually took about half the time of my first.
2. The First Two Weeks
I'm not going to lie. The first two weeks is still a very intensely emotional period and things still feel like they are going crazy all around you, but instead of shifting your whole paradigm of life, you are just adding in another kid to your already hectic schedule of being a parent. The result is that it feels a lot more normal, a lot less intrusive, and a lot more bearable.
3. Sleep (or lack there of)
Now, this will not make sense to the lucky few who had one baby and that baby slept through the night really quickly or were very sleepy as infants, but if you have a baby who is about as sleepless as your first was or even a little less sleepless (as my second baby was), the sleeplessness is a whole lot more bearable. For one thing, you don't have the fear that this will actually last for the rest of your parenting life as you probably did with your first (and this is from a mom whose four year old still has not slept through the night without at least one wake up). Also, you probably made your peace with co-sleeping or not co-sleeping the first time around and even if you have to change horses midstream with your second baby because your second baby has different sleep needs, you do a lot less soul searching and worrying about it because you already know that everything will be alright!
Snuggling was sweet the first time around, but some part of you probably worried from time to time that you might actually "spoil" your baby by holding him/her too much and by not putting him/her down enough. By your second baby, you know better. You look at your first baby (so fiercely independent and uninterested you in you holding him/her every minute of the day) and you know that you might as well savor every second you can hold that baby and you do. You appreciate the time when your baby is a lap baby so much more when you've already had a little one graduate from your lap!
5. Eating, Showering, and Tooth Brushing
Okay, it's just as hard to fit all that stuff in with a newborn/infant as it was the first time, but this time you have skills you had to develop before. Sure, the first month or so, you might be a little rusty (and your baby is really floppy), but by the second or third month you will be eating, showering, brushing your teeth and doing just about everything one handed and with your first child holding on to one leg chatting with you about everything from the task at hand to his/her latest game invention. It's okay to feel like a master parent a little earlier in the process of parenting your second baby because you freaking are!
6. Taking Time for Yourself
This is still a struggle for me, but I do have to admit that I don't feel nearly as bad about taking whatever time I need away from both of my children (whether in the house or out of it) because I already know what the consequences are if I don't take that time and those consequences include me being a very bad person to be around and my children will suffer from that.
7. Your identity
When you became a parent (whether you became a stay at home, work at home, or a work outside the home mom), you had to re-evaluate who you were and what the balance would be between yourself as an individual (and a wife/partner) and your identity as a mom. By the second child, it isn't that hard to slide into an identity as a mom of two. In fact, for me, I became more comfortable with myself in both categories.
With your first baby, milestones are something to look anxiously forward to and you are constantly worrying that he/she won't make them on time. (And if you're naturally competitive, you might feel a little pressure to have your baby accomplish milestones before those other babies in your playgroup.) By your second baby, you aren't nearly as worried. Milestones just become sweet (maybe even bittersweet, if you suspect this baby is your last) celebrations. I feel like with my first son, my mind was constantly focused on what was coming next, with my second son, I'm content to let him just reveal where he is at. It's a far less anxiety invoking experience.
This is a huge worry for many of the second time mothers I have known. Will I love my second as much as my first? Will I fall in love with him/her as quickly or as slowly as I did my first? Will it change the love I feel for my first? Here's the truth: Yes, you will love your second as much as your first, but maybe not immediately. After all, this is a completely new person who may or may not look exactly like another completely new person you remember falling in love with not long beforehand. You have to get to know your new baby a bit before you can love him/her with the same kind of intensity you feel for your child you have spent over a year building a relationship with. Cut yourself some slack if it doesn't quite feel the same right away; it will. It will be a new love for a new child and that love will grow. In my case, I actually found my love feelings growing faster than they had the first time (probably because with the VBAC, I had access to all kinds of hormones that were different from the hormones that happened with my c-section first). And yes, the love you have for your second baby will change how you feel about your first. At first, you will feel torn as your child works through her/his feelings for the new sibling, but once your baby learns how to love your new baby, your love for your first will deepen even more because you will have a new facit of that baby to love: the caring older sibling side.
By the second baby, the way your expectations have evolved as a parent really changes. You know better what to anticipate and you know better what to ignore. You feel more confident in your ability to let things lie from time to time and you just all around enjoy things more. Despite a myriad of personal problems and obstacles in my life right now, I have never felt happier as a mother since I had my second baby. He has helped me to once again grow and become a better person.
Thanks for reading,