So, you’re surviving life with your first child pretty well? Congratulations! Who knew something so small could make your heart grow so big and turn your world completely upside down, right? Well…Just wait until baby number two comes crashing into your lives!
You’ve been there, done that with all the baby books, the sleepless nights, endless feeds and nappy changes that you would almost consider yourself a pro and think it will be a breeze to just slot another child right into your cosy little trio. No matter how prepared you think you are for a second child, nothing can ever fully prepare you until you are in the throws of it. One child is one. Two is like ten! And while you may have gained a little more confidence in your parenting skills since your first baby was born and you’ve already bookmarked your favourite google searches – ‘what happens if my baby doesn’t poo for 10 days’, it’s important to remember that every child is different and they occasionally like to throw you a curve ball to keep you on your toes!
Here are a few of my main worries and what I did to help tackle them:
‘How can my heart possibly be big enough to love another baby as much as my first?’
As your due date looms closer, you will start to worry about loving baby number two as much as your first born and how could your heart possibly be big enough? Truthfully, your heart isn’t big enough! But what it will do is literally double in size. And while you may not love them both exactly the same, or one more than the other, you will love them each in different ways. For instance, I will always love Flynn for being the one that made me a mother but I will always love Arthur for teaching me patience due to his cheeky, persistent nature. And I will forever love the one that’s not currently making me want to pull my hair out! (I joke. Kind of)
‘Postpartum recovery with a toddler’
Remember after having your first child when you spent too many days than you care to admit lounging around the house in your dressing gown, napping when the baby napped and taking things easy? Well, you can kiss goodbye to those memories because you won’t be able to do that again. Your first child won’t care if you’re exhausted from birthing a baby and up all night cluster feeding. They won’t care if your body feels bruised and broken and your boobs feel like they are about to explode the day your milk comes in as they dive onto you for a cuddle. They won’t care if you’ve literally had to be stitched back together while they are demanding you take them to soft play or the park. Recovery second time around is a whole different ballgame and some days, you will just have to suck it up or ask for help, especially when that Paternity Leave ends and you are flying solo.
‘How will I give them both the attention they need?’
This one is trickier and definitely one I struggled with the most initially. A newborn baby demands A LOT of attention and that only becomes more apparent when you have a second child to factor into the mix. Flynn was 2.5 years old when Arthur came along and so he was mostly able to understand that Arthur ‘needed Mummy’ a lot at times but I found that getting him in on the action with things such as bath time and nappy changes helped him to feel a bit more involved and more accepting of his new title of ‘big brother’. Newborns also sleep A LOT so that was another way I made the most of utilising any free time I had with Flynn. Housework and chores can wait. Arthurs nap times meant playtime for Flynn and that of course sometimes meant that my home looked like we were losing a game of Jumanji and that was ok. I never wanted him to feel pushed out or second best, so even if I was busy with Arthur, I would always make sure he was getting that 1-2-1 time with Joey instead or spending time with grandparents. It’s a juggle to begin with but you will soon settle into a new routine of whatever works for you. Admittedly though, it is hard to prioritise your children when one is crying to be fed and the other is crying for attention but I promise you, you will get there. It is also completely normal to wish multiple times a day that your arsehole of toddler would just shut the hell up so that you can tend to your newborn, and that doesn’t mean you love them any less, or you are a bad parent. It means you are human and you are coming to terms with the fact that the juggle of motherhood is really bloody hard!
‘What if they hate their baby sibling?’
I really worried about this one. Flynn was not only the first born, but he was also the first grandchild in our family and for 2.5 years, he had enjoyed all of the attention on him. How was he going to feel when this new little person arrived and stole his thunder? To help him prepare for this, we read books about becoming a big brother and mummy having a baby in her tummy etc. I would let him feel the baby kicking and we would talk about what it would be like having a baby join the family. As the day got nearer and nearer, he became more and more excited, I will never forget the day Flynn met Arthur for the first time. He ran into our living room with the biggest smile on his face and took one look at Arthur in my arms, sat down beside me and demanded a cuddle. All he could say was “he’s so cute and little!” and right there and then, my heart just melted.
‘Getting out of the house with 2 children’
Leaving the house with one child is a mission in itself sometimes, but with two, you need to give yourself at least half an hour before you actually need to leave or just accept the fact you will never be on time for anything ever again. You can almost guarantee that one child will need the toilet/changing or another will want to be fed. And you will need to make sure you own a bag big enough to house all the nappies, wipes, spare outfits, snacks, drinks, toys etc. It’s like packing for a mini break every time you leave the house, just less fun! I found that using a backpack style changing bag was a total lifesaver as it could fit so much stuff in and was much easier to cart around. We also purchased a buggy board for the pushchair to give somewhere for Flynn to have a little rest while out and about if he got tired of walking. He was at an age where he didn’t want to be in a pushchair anymore but would still throw out the occasional “CARRY MEEEEE!” if he just couldn’t be bothered to walk so this was an ideal compromise. There will always be days where the thought of leaving the house is just far too much effort and stress and all you will want to do is bunker down at home and hide away from the thought of taking 2 small humans out but trust me, your toddler will thank you for just powering through those feelings. Even just a short walk for some fresh air will help tire them out and get rid of some of that pent up energy that has them bouncing off the ceiling and waking your newborn every 5 minutes.
In some ways, the change from one to two was a lot easier than the adjustment of no child to full blown parenthood because I kind of knew what to expect this time around. I was prepared for the sleepless nights, the mum guilt, the constant self doubt and the online googling. Going from two to three however…now that’s just a whole other ballgame I was not prepared for!