Being the mother of two children is way different than having only one child, and it’s nothing like I’d expected it to be. I thought I knew what was coming, but no.
Once you’ve given birth, you’re a pro, right? Yeah not so much. My two birth experiences so far have been pretty uneventful, but I found myself surprised when I was laboring with my second and things weren’t going as I’d expected.
These things are impossible to predict, so have an open mind and don’t get too stuck on your idea of how things should/will go, or you may end up very frustrated. Here’s what I learned about having my second baby.
1. My body didn’t bounce back as easily.
Once again, I had expectations regarding my recovery. After my first was born, like moments after, I felt like a million bucks. I felt so skinny and energized with all that baby belly gone. Yes! But baby number two makes her exit and I still feel pregnant. I still felt like a whale in my pre-pregnancy t-shirts.
It took a few months for my body to normalize, whereas the first time around I felt pretty normal within a few weeks. I’m not complaining, because I know not every mom feels back to normal so quickly, but I wish I’d known that I’d have to work harder for it the second time around.
2. Seeing my son greet his little sister was one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced.
Being an only child myself, I grieved what my son would lose when his sister came along. I knew I wouldn’t be able to offer the same amount of attention, and I was so afraid he would feel jealous of his new little sister. All throughout the pregnancy, he and I would talk about how excited we were to meet her, how much we would love her, and we even included her name in our made-up bedtime stories.
But still, I’ve seen so many siblings who can’t stand each other, and I was terrified. But when she arrived, he came in the room beaming. We let him hold her and he sang her Rock-a-Bye Baby, totally of his own accord. He’s been the protective, nurturing older brother ever since, and she adores him. It makes me unspeakably happy. I had nothing to worry about all along.
3. I have enough love for both of them.
It’s hard to imagine finding more room in your heart. You have one child that you love with every molecule; will a second baby cut into the first’s share of your love? The simple answer is “no,” but I think there’s more to it than that.
The love in your family changes as new people arrive in it. I can love my son as the awesome child he is as he relates to me, but I now have a love for him that I didn’t before. I can love him for who he is in relation to another person I love.
When we had kids, I found a new love for my husband, as he then held a new place in my heart: I began to love him as the father of my child. So when a sibling comes along, I get to open a new door of love, as they are the sibling of my other child. These connections only multiply over time as we find new ways to relate to each other. Enough love? We are overflowing.
4. Things that used to freak me out don’t bother me anymore.
The first time around, I panicked at every little cough. I worried about his nap schedule, keeping him from climbing on things, whether he was reaching developmental milestones soon enough. Now that I’ve seen one kid progress at a very normal rate, I find I’m not so worried about the second.
I know she’ll do what she’s supposed to do, when she’s supposed to do it, and I trust my intuition much more. Also, she falls much less than my son did, since I let her get so much experience balancing on the arm of the couch/the elliptical machine/her big brother.
5. Siblings can actually get along.
No, really. Yeah, they have their cranky days. And of course my daughter, who is now two, thinks everything belongs to her, and therefore Big Brother should not be allowed to play with anything. Because it’s all hers, duh.
But most of the time they get along really well, and you can tell they really enjoy each other’s company. Plus, my older child is four years older, so he’s a super-huge help. He’s even asked to change her diapers before (of course, my answer was “YES, YOU CAN”).
6. My kids are a gift to each other.
My kids will always have at least one other person in the world who really gets them. Someone who totally understands the weirdo mom they had, someone who knows where they’re coming from, and someone who cares for them. Will they be BFFs? I’d guess probably not, but they are family, and that’s something they will always have, even when I’m gone. A part of their parents will always be alive in their siblings — our gift to them.
7. Every kid is incredibly different.
The personalities of my two kids are like night and day. They are completely different in every regard. What worked with my firstborn doesn’t work with Little Sister. So, while I’m feeling more confident about my parenting abilities the second time around, it feels totally new and somewhat foreign.
I have to approach the same problems, but in a new way. You become a new parent with every new child, and it’s wonderful and terrible and maddening and glorious. Hang in there!