Monday, December 15, 2014

Six ways I've found caring for my second baby to be easier than caring for my first

A while back, a post I wrote about seven things you should do before you have your first child was published on Scary Mommy. The first time it was shared on the Scary Mommy Facebook page, I got a lot of positive comments and also some negative comments that were like, "why would you scare expectant moms like this? It's not helpful! It just scares them! You're a jerk! A pox upon your house!!" (Ok, maybe nobody actually said that last part. Whatever.) The Scary Mommy Facebook page recently promoted that post again, so I've got some new readers from there, and just to show that I do have positive things to say about having a new baby, here's an encouraging post about why you might find having a second child to be easier than having your first. Now STOP POXING MY HOUSE!

1. I knew what to expect.
I'm not sure anything can really prepare you for what it will be like to have a newborn for the first time. It's emotional and exhausting and nerve wracking. Before Lucas, I knew I'd be tired when he was a baby, but I had no idea how tired. I knew I'd be stressed, but I didn't realize how poorly I'd cope with even small stressors on such little sleep and while all ramped up on hormones. This time around, Dan and I pretty much just said to each other, "So... the first few months are going to be pretty rough. We've done this before. We will survive. Go team!"

Team More Naps!
2. I was already used to not getting much sleep.
Before I got pregnant with Lucas and through most of my pregnancy, I worked as a substitute teacher. I always had weekends off and could sleep in until noon if I wanted to (and I often wanted to.) I didn't work every day, and even when I was called in, I could say no to a job if I wasn't feeling well. After work, I could nap on the couch. Nobody was waking me up early or keeping me up late or needing to be nursed every three hours all night. So I was pretty used to being well rested when Lucas arrived. And, um, that was a rude awakening. Literally and figuratively. But this time around, I'm already used to waking up early and functioning like a normal human being on not much sleep. This may not sound like a good thing, but trust me, it is. There's less culture shock.

They don't really sleep like this.
Hopefully you had guessed that already, though.
3. My second has had no choice but to get used to noise and to sharing me with another child.
When Lucas was a baby, Dan and I would literally tiptoe around the house while he was napping. We lived in a house with wood floors, and I genuinely considered marking the "safe" spots (aka, the floor boards that didn't creak) on the floor with masking tape so we knew where we could step while Lucas was sleeping. True story. The only reason I didn't do it was because we ended up moving when Lucas was four months old, and our current house has carpet and fewer creaky boards.

Then Calista was born when Lucas was two and a half. And apparently you can't convince a toddler to be completely silent while his newborn sister is sleeping. So Calista has slept through all kinds of noise from day one. A few weeks ago, I took my kids to a friend's house for a play date. Calista fell asleep on the car ride over and was sound asleep when we got to their house. The child slept in the same room where the kids were playing for the entire two-hour play date. No joke, at one point, the other kids decided to play musical instruments, and there were two toddlers and a preschooler banging on drums, xylophones and bells less than a foot away from her head. She didn't even move. I felt like I should enter her in a talent show as "the baby who can sleep through anything." She could just sleep on stage while the audience applauded and cheered. It would be an extremely boring act.

Calista sleeping at the zoo.
Later, Lucas fell in a toilet.

4. I trust myself more.
With Lucas, I spent a lot of time worrying that I wasn't doing things exactly right. Was he too hot, too cold, too tired, too overstimulated, too understimulated, overfed, underfed, getting enough tummy time, meeting every milestone at the EXACT second the books said he should??? It was a lot to worry about. Every month, I would pick up the book "What to Expect: The First Year" and dutifully read the whole chapter on what he should be doing that month. But I ended up figuring out my child and what worked (and didn't work) for him in large part by instinct. And I realized that I could totally do this mommy thing.

With Calista, I forgot I even owned the "What to Expect" book until she was over three months old. Then I kind of skimmed the three month chapter, got bored, and put it back on the shelf. If she needs something, I can tell, and I trust that my instincts with her are right. It's a very comfortable feeling.

This picture is just cute. Carry on.

5. I've got the right stuff, and I know how to use it.
The first time you try to put on a Moby wrap, it's really hard. Same for the second time. And the third time. But the 14th time? You feel like maybe you're getting the hang of it. And by the time you put it on with your second child, you could practically do it in your sleep. Except not really, because you have to do it standing up, and you probably can't sleep standing up, so never mind. The point I'm making is that you figure out what products you like and how to use them with baby number one, and then when baby number two comes along, you already own them and have used them enough to make them easy.

The same goes for breastfeeding. With Lucas, I spent a lot of time worrying about if I was doing it right and whether he was getting enough. But after nursing Lucas for over 16 months, I can just latch Calista on and carry on about my day. I'm even a pro at nursing her while walking around. It's a gift.

I'm so good at putting on the Moby that I got Lucas his own, kid-sized Moby.

6. I know from experience that things will get better.
I am almost positive that with Lucas I uttered the words "I am never going to be able to sleep again as long as I live" on more than one occasion. He was a horrendous sleeper until he was about nine months old, and I was sure I would be sleep-deprived for my whole life. Now that Calista is here, I get even less sleep than I did with Lucas (since she goes to bed late and wakes up to eat throughout the night and he wakes up early,) but I'm much less stressed about it. She'll sleep when she sleeps. I've survived cluster feeding, teething and potty training before, and I'll survive them again. Once you've handled the common baby "problems" and then left them in the dust, it's easier to recognize that they're temporary when you experience them the second time around.

The first time I took both kids to church by myself. A full two thirds of us did not cry!

So there you go, six ways my second baby has been easier than my first. If you have more than one child, have you found these to be true for you?

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  1. yay a new post! there's about three months left until my baby gets here, and i am already starting to worry about everything you listed in number 4. oh, and i am so not looking forward to the sleep deprivation. i am like you pre-lucas, and the stressful times where i maybe go a week without enough sleep are not pretty. i'm not sure how i'll handle months of that.

    i'm so happy for you that you are finding the second easier, and it looks like your kids get along together which is great. (at least they are adorable together. that santa-elf picture should be framed.)

  2. Congrats on the baby!

    I agree. Something were harder with the second baby (like the constantly divided attention and not being able to sleep when the baby sleeps, because the toddler is tearing apart the other room.) But the things I worried about, so much less.