Guiltier the Second Time Around
Having another baby opens up a whole new reservoir of reasons to feel culpable. Feeling a stronger draw to one baby over the other, especially if one child was colicky and the other easy, isn't uncommon, but it can make you feel like the worst mom in the world. Then you may be torn because there's not enough time to dote on your younger child the way you did with your first -- noticing every gurgle and sigh, even starting in the womb. "When I was pregnant with my second son, I was too busy with the first to notice the kicks and turns," says Marissa McCanles, of Minneapolis, mom to Shane, 5, and Dallas, 2. "Then, after he was born, I didn't feel the instant bond that I had with my first, and I kept thinking what a horrible mother I was for not being instantly in love with this child."
You can just as easily feel lousy because you're no longer able to give undivided attention to your older child. That's the case for Alessandra Rafferty, of Jersey City, mom to Saorla, 2, and Grian, 6 weeks: "The fact that I was breastfeeding the baby and not able to lift my toddler for six weeks because I had a c-section made it even worse." Of course, that intense newborn period doesn't last forever, and making time to do something special with your older child can help take the edge off your feelings. Rafferty says keeping up with a gym class that just she and Saorla attend has helped. But having a second baby is also a great opportunity to let others pick up the slack. "I couldn't hold Saorla in my lap or do the physical things kids love, like swinging her around," Rafferty adds. "But she does that kind of stuff with her dad, and that's strengthened their bond."