Hi, everyone! It’s Leslie Bruce here, and I wanted to share some advice I gave to Lauren after the arrival of her newest little one with all of you here. Even for the most seasoned parent, the idea of adding a second child to the family dynamic can feel a bit overwhelming. Sure, you’re more comfortable with the brass tacks of motherhood (you’ve got breast pump assembly down to a science and you can change a diaper in under 90 seconds), but you may feel a tinge of panic about caring for not one, but TWO small humans. In my book, You Are a F*cking Awesome Mom, I opened up about my struggles as a first-time mom, but during the process of writing the book, my husband and I welcomed a second baby into our family. Having your first child will rock your world, but do not underestimate the journey of going from one to two! Here’s a bit of what I learned along the way…
Growing your family might feel bittersweet
In the weeks before my son was born, I started to feel a bit sentimental, because I knew that our days as a trio were numbered. My husband and I were over the moon for our baby boy, but we also knew that our attention would be forever divided. I would have two little hearts to care for, which meant my daughter would no longer get all of me. As you prep from baby two, remind yourself that all those feelings are totally normal, and plan for some extra special quality time celebrating the one who made you a mama. (Pro tip: kids love pajama picnics in the park!)
Your Mama Bear instincts may surprise you
Remember that feeling of wild and fierce protection over your firstborn? How you would single-handedly fight an army of apocalypse zombies to keep him or her safe? Well, imagine that same instinct for your second born, but this time the impending danger is a toddler wielding a plastic toy and running, at record speed, toward your newborn. How quickly the tide can turn! Don’t get me wrong, I would run into traffic for my daughter, but I also have ZERO problem face palming her when she is charging at my son with a colored pencil.
It’s not as expensive
At first. Eventually, your children will grow to have their own independent needs, but chances are you saved most of the newborn gear for round two. Who cares that all his swaddles were printed with ballerinas, flowers and unicorns? He didn’t know the difference!
Babies are SO much easier than kids
So many of the struggles I had with my first child were because of my own challenges in becoming a mother. Babies are hard, for sure, but caring for a newborn is like learning to ride a bike. It’s scary in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it’s no big deal. When you bring home your second child, you’ll realize that children are WAY harder than babies. Kids who can speak, walk, eat food, make messes and have the ability to go completely limp when screaming are way more exhausting than tiny humans who sleep and drink milk all day. Also, you may wonder when your first baby got so big. He or she will look like a giant next to your newborn.
You won’t be as panicky
Since this isn’t your first rodeo, chances are you won’t be as stressed out. When my son was born, I suffered from postpartum anxiety (which is an entirely different bag of worms), but when it came to the small hiccups of early parenthood, I didn’t get as wound up. His first cold came and went, and, sure, it wasn’t fun, but I wasn’t racing him to the pediatrician like I did with my daughter. When his pacifier fell on the floor, I wiped it on my shirt and stuck it back in his mouth. I didn’t obsess over every milestone that wasn’t met, because I knew he would get there. With number two, you’re just a bit more reasonable because you’ve been down this road before.
The love for number two can feel even stronger
This isn’t to say you aren’t madly in love with your first child, but luxury of foresight can help to create a stronger bond from earlier on. When my daughter was born, I couldn’t visualize what the future had in store for us, but with my son, I could. I knew that one day he would say my name and smile when I walked into a room. I knew how it would feel to cuddle with him on lazy Sunday mornings. I knew how his eyes would sparkle on Christmas morning, and the squeal he’d make when he tasted his first piece of cake. You can see your future with number two, and it’s beautiful.
Your firstborn may act out
When explaining the idea of bringing home baby number two, I like to use this example: Imagine your partner brings home a new wife. This new woman is going to live with you, share your family with you and everything that you believed was once yours, is now hers too. You’ll be told that you will love this new woman, and she is here to stay. Forever. It’s sort of like that for the older sibling. Do your best to be sensitive to this. They may even revert to babylike tendencies (my daughter kept trying to nurse on my shoulder. Eek.). One way to soften the transition is to carve out at least 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your older child every day. The important thing is to be consistent, so he or she knows that mama will always make time for her first baby.
Double the children, double the guilt
Because we’re not yet capable of cloning ourselves, we’re going to feel like we’re constantly being pulled in opposite directions. You may feel guilty because you’re not able to give as much of your time to number two, as you were to your older child. I did a dozen mommy and me classes with my first, but with Roman, I did one. You may also feel guilty when you can’t be as present with your first or be there for every afterschool activity, because babies, even easy babies, are still demanding. The guilt is ever present but learn to embrace it. You feel guilty because you care so much and want to be your best for your kids, and that makes you a pretty great mama.
Your daily life may not change all that much
As a first-time mom, your whole world gets flipped upside down, but by the time number two comes along, you’ve likely already established your new normal. For us, that meant Friday nights on the couch, weekends devoted to child-friendly activities, weekly trips to Target and the absence of any and all spontaneity. Of course, there is an entirely new dance to learn, but my sincerest hope is that it comes a bit easier now that you have your sea legs.
Sibling love is kind of magical
Watching your children develop their own relationship is incredible. For the longest time, the only person in the world who could make our son laugh was his older sister—and it would reduce me to hormonal tears of joy. I can’t properly express the feeling you’ll have when you see them playing together for the first time or cuddling on the couch watching Sesame Street. My heart swells every time Tallulah gives Roman a kiss goodnight, or how adamant she is that she wakes him up every morning. So, even on the hardest of days, remind yourself that you made these wonderful people in your body…and you gave them their very best friend. It’s a pretty amazing thing, mama.
Do you have any tips for adding another little one to the family?
Share them in the comments below!