My baby boy Alex is nearly one whole year old now. That means I have almost made it through 12 months as a mum of two. Making the leap from no babies to one baby was difficult, life changing, don’t get me wrong but taking the plunge and having a second baby? Well, that’s just a whole different ball game. When you announce the news you have another bun in the oven people will tell you things like: ‘the second baby just slots right in’ , ‘it’s so much easier the second time around’ and ‘you will know what you are doing this time’. While all these bits of advice are said with nothing but good intentions most of the time, I kind of wish people would stop telling pregnant mums what they want to hear and instead start dishing out the cold hard facts. I love being a mum of two but I was a bit naïve to how much life would change all over again when we had our second baby. If you are currently expecting your second baby or are considering trying for another baby, here is an insight into what life with two small children is really like.
Everything you need to know about becoming a mum of 2
You will sometimes forget you’re pregnant – Never! I hear you cry but actually, it’s true. When you have another child to look after sometimes you will be so busy you will actually forget you are carrying another baby in your tummy. First time round you were probably checking weekly bump updates online to see if your baby is more avocado or pumpkin this week but with baby number 2 you can fly into the third trimester without really noticing at all. I feel like a whole separate post could be dedicated to the differences in pregnancy the second time round so I will just leave it at this, it is NOT the same AT ALL.
Labour second time around still hurts – I would be a very rich woman if I had a pound for every time someone told me labour is easier second time around when I was pregnant with Alex. My labour was quicker the second time but, god, it still hurt. It hurt loads, the contractions were just as painful as they had been on my first trip to the labour ward 3 years before.
Sleep deprivation is even more horrific – When you have one baby keeping you up all night life can be really hard, You spend your days wandering around like a zombie wondering why you have put your keys in the fridge and why there’s clean laundry hanging out of the bin. Anyway, if your baby is up all night but wants to sleep until 11am then at least you can grab some sleep in the day too. Sleep when baby sleeps is completely impossible when you have an older child to look after, especially if that older child doesn’t nap. Not once since my husbands paternity leave have I been able to catch up on some much needed sleep during the day, not once. No wonder I found myself on the verge of tears for no good reason multiple times a day in those first few months.
Mastering the synchronised nap will make you feel like a boss – I don’t think I have ever felt more like supermum than on those rare occasions that I have managed to get both my kids to nap – at the same time. Usually this parenting feet of dreams is only achieved if I plan a 20 minute drive at exactly the right time of day. It does mean that there have been occasions I have had to set up camp in the car with snacks and a book for an hour while the boys sleep (only a crazy person would try and move them) but it is so worth it for the peace. If you are able to achieve the impossible and get both children to nap in the house in their beds so you can crawl into your own bed or get some stuff done then you, my friend, are a parenting genius and deserve a medal.
You won’t be able to meet both their needs all of the time – Small children need a lot from us parents. Babies need help with every basic need – eating, sleeping, pooing.. – and while toddlers may have some of these mastered they are by no means ready to tackle the big wide world without us just yet. There was a time that Alex was screaming for a feed in the coffee shop so I sat down with Leo and fed him. Newborns can take an eternity to feed and about 10 minutes in Leo started doing an all too familiar, heart stopping dance. He uttered the words no mum of a newly potty trained toddler with a hangry baby stuck to her boob wants to hear, ‘I need a weeee mummy!’. I was trapped, take Alex off and force the whole café to listen to his shrieks, try and get Leo to hold it or point him in the direction of the loos and hope for the best? What happened in the end was just as I was plucking up the courage to walk across Costa with my boob out, Leo wet himself all over the floor. I am not trying to say that public pants wetting is common place when you have two children but I am just trying to explain that sometimes you will be getting pulled in two different directions by two demanding little people and it won’t always end well. That’s ok though, you will slowly figure it all out together.
Sometimes you will have a favourite – Yes, I did really just say that. You will love both your children, always, but sometimes you will find yourself liking one a little bit more than the other. How can you not prefer your toddler who sleeps like a dream when it’s 3 am and your baby is fighting sleep after hours of feeding and rocking? How can you not like your baby more when your toddler is screaming at you having an almighty public tantrum while your baby just gurgles at you from their pram with a smile on their face? I love both my boys equally and most of the time I like them exactly the same amount too but, occasionally, one of them will be getting on my last nerve and I will definitely prefer the company of the other one. This doesn’t make you a bad mum, it makes you human.
You will do whatever it takes to get through the day – Breastfeed a baby while taking a toddler for a poo? Done that. Let your toddler eat Coco Pops for lunch 3 days in a row because you are too tired to even make a sandwich? Done that too. Watch Paw Patrol all day, listen to Cbeebies theme songs on repeat for hours, let your toddler play rogue in the park all morning because the house feels like a prison. When you have two children sometimes it really does feel like you are doing whatever possible to just make it from your ridiculously early start to bedtime in one piece. First time around I was so strict on the whole TV babysitter thing, now I welcome Ryder and his team of pups into my home with welcome arms. Anything to keep one child happy while I deal with the other is a blessing. We have lots of fun time together as a family obviously but sometimes making it through the daily grind is tough if you don’t let yourself relax on the small stuff a bit.
They don’t just slot it – Honestly, I heard this so much when I was pregnant with number 2 and it just isn’t true. Your routine will change when you have a second baby, it is unavoidable. Don’t worry, all that hard work you have done building a routine for your eldest won’t go out the window but for a little while trying to live your lives exactly the same way won’t be possible. You won’t always be able to get your toddler down for a nap at exactly 2pm as sometimes you may be in the middle of feeding your baby or be dealing with a poo explosion. Bathtime may have to be brought forward half an hour so you can have time to get the baby to bed too. Daddy might have to take over bedtime duties with the eldest for a while so you can see to the baby. Some days you will forget all about giving your toddler their mid afternoon snack until you find yourself facing the conundrum of if I give him a snack now will he refuse to eat his tea? I found that by just sticking to a loose routine worked best in the early days when life got turned upside down and back to front and now Alex is almost 1 we are all back in routine and things are running smoothly (most days).
Mum guilt is even worse – I hate mum guilt! I thought I had it bad when I was a mum to just one but now I find it even more difficult to deal with. Here is a short (and by no means complete) list of all the things I have felt guilty about since Alex was born:
- He doesn’t get enough one on one time with me
- I don’t read to him
- He spends too much time in his bouncy chair instead of my arms
- I give him his dummy too much
- He doesn’t get to nap enough because I am always dragging him along to Leo’s toddler groups
- All his clothes are hand me downs
- I never buy him toys as he has all of Leos
- I feed him shop bought baby food too much
- He never gets to bath on his own as him and Leo share to save water
- I don’t do as much with him as I did when Leo was a baby
There is more but I won’t go on otherwise we will be here all day. Mum guilt is horrible and the best way to deal with it is to just stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. The baby days are never going to be the same when there is an older child thrown in to the mix, just do what you can and know that your baby has no idea that you used to read ‘That’s not my bunny’ 15 times in a row to their elder sibling or that his clothes are not fresh from the shop rails but instead have been dug out from the attic upstairs.
Comparison is unavoidable – You will tell everyone you are not going to do it but you will. I always thought I wouldn’t compare my two boys, they are individuals after all, but I can’t help but do it sometimes. Whenever Alex masters a new skill I can’t resist delving into the memory bank to see if he has learnt it before or after Leo did. With every new tooth that makes an appearance I find myself wracking my brain to remember how many teeth Leo had at the same age. I don’t do it to try and see which of my children was more advanced or whatever as a baby, I just do it because I am curious to see how similar or not the two boys are.
You might not cope as well the second time around – I have made it no secret on this blog that I found having two children really difficult in those first few months. I suffered from terrible anxiety resulting in a spell of post natal depression. This is something I didn’t experience when Leo was born. I am not saying this will happen to you too, just be aware that just because you coped mentally the first time around doesn’t necessarily make you immune to any mental health problems after the birth of your second child.
They won’t always like each other – One of the reasons we decided to have another baby was so that Leo could have a sibling, a little play mate and friend forever. Sometimes I don’t think Leo really appreciates the gift of a brother though and wishes he had us all to himself again. At just 10 months and the other 4, these two boys are already getting into arguments over toys and are showing signs of jealousy when the other has our attention. When you have a second baby you can’t help but want it to be picture perfect moments of your toddler kissing your newborn’s head, playing gently and helping you look after their new tiny sibling, in reality this is not always the case. There are plenty of heart warming moments to watch between your two children, memories that are definitely worth cherishing, but just know that it is not always going to be perfect.
You worry less – Remember how a simple heat rash was enough to leave you running with your new baby in a panic to the doctors surgery as a first time mum? Well, second time around you can expect to be more relaxed about these kind of things. By now you will have become pretty good at trusting your gut instinct as a parent and things that used to leave you terrified now don’t worry you so much. It doesn’t mean you care less about your second baby than you did your first, it just means you are more experienced now and know when you need to worry and when you don’t.
The basics can still be difficult – Breastfeeding the second time around was more difficult than it was the first. Changing a nappy without almost getting poo everywhere is still something I am yet to master and taming a toddler tantrum? I am sure I am going to find that just as challenging the second time around too. Looking after a baby is hard work but at least when it is your second you will have picked up some hacks from the first time around, like using baby sleeping bags instead of stressing yourself out something stupid over your baby kicking off their blanket in the night (just me?).
Milestone moments aren’t the same – When your first baby learns to do new things you seriously feel like it is the greatest thing you have ever seen. The excitement over rolling over, the hysteria over that first laugh, you still feel that the second time around but just not quite as much as you did with your first. With Leo I couldn’t wait for him to reach the next milestone whereas with Alex I am desperate for time to just slow down. I am in no rush to see him take his first steps!
You will never know love like it – You will fall in love with your second baby just as much as you did with your first. Your love for you first doesn’t get less to make space in your heart for your new baby too, it continues to grow. I love my two boys so much and whenever I see them both together I feel like I could actually explode. Seeing Leo hold Alex’s hand or watching Alex look at Leo with complete adoration just melts my heart. There are hard days but when I see my two boys together I know that making that jump from one baby to two was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
That’s it, everything (well, not really but almost) you need to know about having a second baby. If you are sat reading this expecting your second baby I am not trying to scare you, just trying to be honest. I always think honesty is the best policy when it comes to parenting, at least then you can be prepared. Having two kids is amazing, it really is. Amazing but hard friggin work too – you’re going to love it.
Are you expecting baby number 2? How are you feeling about impending arrival? Parents of two or more kids, got anything to add to this list? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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