An open letter to my friend who's expecting baby number two: Your second baby can be very different than your first. Also: You've got this!
My Dear Mama Friend,
I am so excited that you are going to have your second baby. I know how much you have wanted to grow your family and have a sibling for your older child and I couldn't be happier for you. This is such an exciting time, as you embrace your new pregnancy and make plans for what is to come. And I'm sure you have some very normal and common fears about having your second child having been through the treachery of infancy once before. So as a mother of two, there are a few things I want you to know about becoming a mother for the second time.
- RELATED: Second-Pregnancy Differences
1. Your new bundle of joy might be majorly different from your first.
For better or worse, somehow this seems to be true. Whether it's sleep or eating habits or general demeanor, try not to get set in the idea that your second child will do things the same way your first did. Second babies tend to have a way of throwing a wrench in the way we thought we were supposed to do things. What worked for Baby One might not fly with Baby Two. Breathe deep, roll with it, and try to forget the way you did everything the first time. If you're like me, you already forgot because you were on to the Big Kid worries. The infant checklist will come back to you, but it likely won't be relevant anyway, so you can really just throw it out and start from scratch.
2. She'll need you differently, too.
You already have a few years of being a mother under your belt, but having another child somehow makes you feel like a completely a different mother, too. The ways that each of your children need you are so unique to their own quirks and personality and this doesn't change as time goes on. You have to be the mother that each of your individual children need you to be. And you get a little more adept and a little more flexible, but really, you find out that you already are exactly what they need anyway.
3. You're going to lose some sleep.
I don't want to scare you, but you're going to lose a little sleep. Let's hope you get the magic dream sleeper kid—you deserve to get that kid. But in reality, most people don't get that kid. You also have a big kid to take care of, so you're going to be pretty tired for a while. I have a huge stack of sleep books and magic tricks to hook you up with. Maybe they will help. They probably won't. But I promise I'll come help in the middle of the night if 22-minute stretches ain't cutting it. (But probably only once because, as you know, I still have some minor PTSD from my second kid's first year. JK... kind of).
4. Your big kid will seem really big (and really awesome).
All of the sudden, your older child (who is really not all that old) will seem like a huge, ginormous man. Like, how did he get so huge and so capable? He can practically take care of himself and babysit Kid Two. Okay, maybe not, but he suddenly seems way handier than you ever realized. He can run and grab you the wipes. He can pee-pee in the potty. He also sleeps for more than 22 minutes at a time and can conveniently be propped in front of the TV for a solid chunk of time during the hazy newborn days. Your big kid is really pretty amazing. Thank goodness.
5. He also might seem really needy.
Oh right. This part. If Kid Two turns out to be a needy baby (pretty legit for newborns, I'd say) Kid One might show his more demanding side. It happens. And his needs feel big—bigger than Kid Two's, because he has way more emotions than a tiny newborn. Luckily, you can snuggle him up while you hold, rock, and feed Kid Two. You can also make him feel like a special big boy by enlisting his help and expertise because older siblings have special powers. It might take a little time to adjust to being a sibling, but remind him often, he's the only man for the job.
6. You're going to need some extra hands.
Don't worry, I have some. So do your other friends, your family, and your partner. So do mother's helpers. Seriously, there is no harm in asking for help, even though it feels hard to do. It's something we get conditioned not to do because we think we are supposed to be able to do it all ourselves. But we shouldn't have to. If you need something—an hour of sleep, someone to load the dishwasher, a shot of tequila—HOLLA. AT. ME. Sometimes you're just not going to have enough limbs. And that's okay. You are not an octopus.
7. You're also going to need some extra patience.
It's a god damned virtue, so they say. And it's true, but it doesn't come easy. When you feel like a one-woman show and you're running on fumes, sometimes you have to reach to the depths of your soul to find that last shred of it. But it's there. Even if you've never had to dig that deep. Keep reaching. Keep finding it and pretty soon, it'll come to you a little easier.
8. You'll be floored by how much your kids love each other.
This was my biggest and most pleasant surprise about becoming a mother again. I didn't expect to get so lucky to have kids who just fawned on each other (most of the time). Yeah, sometimes they're out of sync. Sometimes the big one is too rough or the little one is too cranky. But mostly, your kids will love each other so hard and so loud and it will be crazy beautiful to witness.
And last but not least...
9. You're gonna rock this!
You're already an amazing mama to one lucky kid. Second baby is every bit as lucky and so are you. You get to be a mother all over again and it will likely be as demanding and amazing and filled with love as the first go-round. Hang tough, don't be a stranger, and remember, you've totally got this.
Your overly excited friend and seasoned mother of two