There is no greater feeling than becoming a parent – unless it’s realizing that you’re going to do it again! Bringing home Baby #2 holds all the joy, excitement and wonder of the first child, but is coupled with a new set of emotions – guilt on how you will spread your time and love between your firstborn, your baby and your spouse; stress on how to manage schedules, finances and life; worry about the physical toll on your already sleep-deprived body. But there’s also the joy of expanding your family; giving your child the gift of a sibling – a lifelong friend and companion that geography and time can’t change; the thrill of watching these two different little people you’ve created and understanding their similarities, differences and personalities.
It’s no secret that having another child changes your life, but what can you really expect that second time around? Read on as we unveil some of the mystery about bringing home baby again.
You’ve Got This. Yes, you may be more tired, the bags under your eyes may actually have zip codes by the time your second baby comes around, but just remember – you’ve done this before! Approach Baby #2 with confidence, experience and yes, expertise. You know how to breastfeed, how to prepare a bottle in the middle of the night or change a crib sheet and a diaper without ever turning on the lights. You no longer worry about if you’ll wake up. Your body clock is programmed to hear your baby’s cry, almost before it happens. The great thing about Baby #2 is all the insecurity and hesitancy about what to do and how to do it is gone. You’re now a person that new moms look to for advice. Yes, you’ve got this!
Just Say Yes Again and Again and Again. As women, especially new moms, it is common to resist offers of help. “No, I don’t need help” or “We’re doing fine” or “Thank you but no thank you.” The second time around, accept any and all offers of help. Your neighbor wants to take your toddler for the day – yes! A friend wants to feed the new baby while you sleep – yes! Your mother-in-law (yes, even your mother-in-law) wants to come over and do your laundry – yes! As you know by now, letting someone else change your new baby or put your toddler to bed doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or that you can’t handle your role. Someone else feeding your baby doesn’t result in your child spending his adult years in therapy. It means you’re smart and able to realize that help won’t always be here. After all, no one offers to bring you dinner when your kids are 18 months and 3 years old. So, accept the help offered now, graciously and willingly. It won’t be around forever and this time, you know that.
As moms, we know it’s rarely about us so let’s talk about the other members of your family who will be affected by the arrival of Baby #2.
Who’s that Guy? Yes, it’s common, sometimes even expected that you and your spouse have even less time for each other. Parenthood is very demanding when your children are small, so you want to discuss how roles and responsibilities will change, the fact that so much of your energies will be focused on the children, that foreplay may be getting to watch a moment of a DVD before finally falling asleep. You and your husband may feel like ships that pass in the night – but that’s normal. Talk about it ahead of time so that no one feels neglected. Also, discuss schedules and who can handle what – if you’ve got help from your husband with the kids and the house, you will find that you actually have more time for him! And, don’t forget to plan some time for each other. Even if it’s fifteen minutes over a microwave meal or that ten minutes at night before one of you falls asleep. Take the opportunity, even if it’s via text or a post-it note at the coffeepot, to let him know you love him. A little goes a long way.
Sibling Rivalry. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the fact that bringing home a second baby may potentially dethrone the reigning king or queen. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. What can you, as a parent, do to ease the transition?
Prepare your child. Talk about it, via books, conversations, even DVDs. Explain what will happen, not only to mommy’s tummy, but when you have to go to the hospital, how long you’ll be gone and what life will be like with the new baby. Your child will feel much more comfortable if he knows about baby cries, feedings and diaper changes. Also, involve your child. Let your firstborn be involved in picking out special blankets, toys or books for the new baby. Explain his role as big brother, and that a parent’s heart has unending love – enough for everyone.
Make Baby #1 feel special. Yes, it’s OK and very acceptable to have a gift or a new toy for your oldest. This helps your child see that not everything is about the new baby and makes him feel loved and included in a way he understands. When you come home from the hospital, ensure someone else is holding the new baby, so that you can greet, hug and love on the child who you’ve missed.
Rely on Routines. Having a schedule makes your oldest feel cared for and loved. Once the new baby gets home, don’t be afraid to go back to school or daycare schedules, set nap and bed times, and get back into your old – though somewhat revised – routines. Normalcy is comfortable and lets your firstborn know what to expect.
Make time for each other. Your first baby has had you all to himself, and the fact that he has to share you is a change that’s going to be hard to accept. Carve out some time, even some new traditions for just the two of you. Whether it’s story time, bedtime or bath time – even being allowed to join you for grocery shopping or errands – it’s not about the activity as much as the one-on-one time.
Big Kid vs. Baby. Regression is normal because suddenly a little baby who can’t do a thing for herself is stealing the show. Emphasize the positive, compliment your child on his “Big Kid” behavior like getting the bottle for Mom, going to the potty by himself, going straight to sleep at bedtime, staying in his own room for naps. It’s normal that your oldest might try some babyish behavior, and if he needs to get it out, let him. After all, this is a transition time for everyone. But, give kudos for being the Big Kid, the older sibling, and your child will respond.
Everyone’s story is different. But, bringing home another baby is a family affair – not just about you or your husband or your little one – and definitely not just about the baby. There will be tears and tantrums, from the adults as well as the toddlers. As New York Times best-selling author Jim Butcher once said, “There is nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more . . . secure.”
Keep Calm and Parent On!
~The Baby Pibu Team