For 35 blissful months, I was a mother of one. I diligently documented my son’s growth from birth, taking a picture and recording his weight, height, and “favorites” each month. I worried over whether we read to him enough and tightly controlled the 20 minutes per week of screen time we allowed after his second birthday. When I became pregnant with my second, I worried about the baby-to-come. How could she or he live up to my first born? There was no way the second baby would be as sweet or smart or caring! I was excited about my second baby but I also felt guilty for busting up the party of three my firstborn so loved.
Two weeks before my baby’s due date, I made a plan to spend one last wonderful weekend doting on my big boy. We would go to the nature center and the park and eat at his favorite sandwich shop. We would take him to the toy store and let him pick out something special and tell him, all day, how much he was loved. Instead, I woke up when my water broke and our last weekend as a family of three turned into our first weekend as a family of four.
Those first few weeks were magical, terrifying, and fantastic. Everything was wild, sleepy, and exhausting and, through it all, I could feel myself morphing, rapidly, from a classic first time mom into a seasoned, expectations-way-lowered mom of two. If you’re a mom who’s just had her second baby, I’m more than certain you can relate to everything on the list below.
1 | You feel more like an expert every day
Swaddling? Yep, you can still rock it. Feeding? Waaaayyy easier this time around. And the new stuff, like figuring out how to change a newborn’s diaper with the “help” of a toddler or how to handle a tantrum, fix a box of mac-and-cheese, and slice a plate of grapes all without unlatching the newborn? You figure it out quickly because you have to figure it out quickly.
2 | You also feel more clueless every day
Some of the new stuff is tough, tougher than you imagined. What are you supposed to do when the toddler asks you to return the baby? Or the baby and the toddler are both crying with real needs at the same time? Or the newborn hates the car but the toddler hates staying at home?
3 | You realize that you were actually kind of crazy as a first time mom
You actually used to wash pacifiers after they fell on the floor?! You were stressed about giving the baby a pacifier in the first place?! It’s shocking how quickly your convictions fall away when you realize that your little person (the bigger one) is doing just fine despite all your parenting blunders. Also you’re tired, and babies need germs to grow.
4 | You feel smug about all the money you didn’t spend by saving all your baby stuff
With baby number one, your shopping list was pages long. This time you shopped your closet and attic, and ended up not having to pick up anything from the store but diapers and a few packs of onesies. You’re proud of the savings and you should be! You’re going to need it with two in daycare.
5 | You realize that the second baby is going to have a much less quiet life
Your first baby spent its early weeks swaddled in whispers. You second baby was greeted at a few hours old with the sounds of a stomping toddler, shouting her joy and excitement into the previously quiet hospital room. Your newborn is going to spend his life surrounded by sound and, hey, maybe that’s a good thing! Maybe he’ll learn to sleep through anything!
6 | You also realize how much extra love they’re going to get in the long run
As soon as your newborn starts tracking people with his eyes, he’s going to be tracking his sibling more than anyone else. Sometime in those first few weeks, you’ll be watching your big kid sing or read to the baby and you’ll be bowled over by how lucky each of them are to have one another.
7 | Wondering how you forgot how much stuff babies need
It’s not the co-sleeper and the rocker you trip over every time you make your way through the living room that you forgot, it’s everything you need to bring when you leave the house. You haven’t used a diaper bag in months and, now, packing it with diapers, wipes, multiple outfits, and all kinds of other trinkets is simply maddening.
8 | You wonder how the heck you ever thought a newborn was hard the first time around
Sure, having a newborn is hard, but this time the hard part is figuring out how to balance the toddler and the newborn. As you do your best to meet everyone’s needs, you’ll think back wistfully to the first weeks of your first baby’s life and wonder how the heck you ever had trouble with the basics.
9 | You finally understand how parents can forget their own kids’ birthdays
After your first was born, you swore that you’d never forget his important details. Perhaps you have his birth time, weight, and length memorized. Perhaps you know exactly what his first food was or how old he was when he crawled. Now you have two, though, and you really get how some parents let their kiddos’ details slip away. With your brain so full of immediate needs, sometimes it’s easy for the details to get lost.