It’s hard to believe our baby will be turning ONE in a couple of weeks! And just as Baby J has been growing and developing, so have I—so have we, as a family. We’ve all come a long way in the last year, and here’s what I’ve learned.
1. You can love your second baby as much as your first.
I’ll admit, before Baby J was born, I had that same fear I think all moms have, that I might not build as close a bond to my second child as to my first. In the early weeks after the baby’s arrival, I still had a larger place in my heart for A, our big girl, who I had already seen through so much. But as time went on, Baby J became a person in our family unto herself, and my heart expanded to make equal room for her. There are certainly no favorites here.
2. Second babies aren’t that expensive.
When we had our first baby, I couldn’t believe all the expenses: furniture, clothing, car seats, swings, diapers, baby food… They say you spend $10,000 on your baby in the first year of life, and that was definitely true with A. But it was great to see how much stuff we could reuse with Baby J, and the stuff we did still have to buy, like diapers, didn’t seem as earth-shattering because we were already prepared for the expense.
3. Building a bond is simple and starts early.
Right after Baby J was born, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would build a bond between my girls. After all, I never had a sister, and I know the dynamic between girls can be tricky, so I wanted to get a head start on making them close. Turns out, I didn’t need to read books and orchestrate their playtime. I just needed to help A see the baby as less of a threat to her time with her parents and her things, and more of a “project“—something I needed her help caring for.
4. Everyone needs their own special time.
A big part of making sure that big sister didn’t see the baby as a threat was giving A special one-on-one time with mommy and daddy. That has never meant special lunch dates or shopping trips for her, but an opportunity to read an extra book once Baby J is in bed for the night or a fun craft while little sister is napping. A little attention goes a long way, as it does with the baby, too. A few extra minutes on the changing table after a diaper change to talk, sing, or name objects in the room leads to a lot of development and bonding!
5. Babywearing is essential.
Sometimes giving everyone what they need at the same time is impossible, especially when someone’s out of sorts due to exhaustion or illness. These are the days when I can’t imagine how I’d get by without babywearing. When Josephine is cranky and just wants to be held, 9 times out of 10, she’s so relieved to be snapped into our Boba carrier or wrapped up in a double hammock on my back. What a relief for everyone!
6. Germs spread faster than wildfire.
Speaking of illness, in the last three weeks, we’ve been tackling a stomach bug that hit A first and got passed on to Baby J. Ever since I stopped exclusively breastfeeding, it seems like any sickness that A brings home will also get passed onto the baby, no matter how many times we wash hands and clean toys or how strictly we enforce a physical distance between them. I can only imagine what it must be like to have three or more little ones!
7. Nothing’s as scary.
Even when the baby does get sick, it’s not as earth-shattering to me as it once was with A. Every little sniffle and sneeze used to send me into a panic. Now, I know when to bring out the nasal spray and the aspirator, when to administer a dose of Tylenol, and when to head into the pediatrician’s office.
8. You’ve never been so exhausted in your whole life.
You know how people sometimes make fun of the advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” when you’re a first-time mom, because you have so many other things to catch up on? Yeah, very funny, indeed. Well, when you have only one baby, you have the option to go to sleep when they’re napping. When you’ve got another child in the house, you just have to find new and creative ways to deal with unimaginable exhaustion some days.
9. You can get more isolated.
I’d be curious to know if this is true for moms who work outside their homes, but as a SAHM, I found that I’ve had a tendency to be more isolated since we’ve had our second baby. Now, you’re scheduling playdates and outings around two children’s schedules, and it seems that someone is always napping, eating, or in need of a diaper change. That can make accomplishing the weekly necessities daunting, never mind finding time for the fun stuff. I’ve had to work hard to make plans in advance and stick to them, unless someone is truly ill.
10. The family dynamic really shifts, for the best.
One of the best things about bringing home another baby was that I simply couldn’t give A my full attention, which meant she was sometimes turning to daddy. Not to say that they weren’t close before Baby J’s birth, but A definitely showed a preference for Mama. As much as it killed me to turn her away sometimes in those early weeks of constant care for a newborn, it forced A to approach my husband more, and they’ve grown immeasurably closer.
Did you learn anything unexpected in your first year as a mom to two (or more) children?
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