The Surprising Things I’ve Learned Since Having Kid #2

I’ll admit it: I was nervous to have a second child. Sure, I’d learned a lot with my first, from the highs and lows of breastfeeding to toddler meltdowns and more. But I couldn’t ignore an aching fear I had of the second. It was like we had created this perfect home and soon a new person would be coming in and throwing it off balance. How was I going to handle this? Was I ready?

My second child was born four months ago, and things have fallen into place much more quickly than I’d anticipated. Yes, some days it feels like all I do is wipe butts, with the baby and a potty training toddler who is regressing since her little sister joined our family, but it’s been a relief how readily our family swayed to absorb and rely upon our new baby’s presence.

Of course, it’s still early on — and as all mothers know, things change constantly when you have kids! But, if you’re about to have your second baby, and you’re as nervous as I was, I’ve discovered some surprising things that might take some of the mystery out of what to expect.

1. Taking care of a newborn is a lot like riding a bike. Your mind might think you forget, but your body totally remembers. While I’m just as cautious and obsessive this time as I was the first, I at least knew how to swaddle the baby, burp her, bathe her, and so on. The fears of not knowing what I was doing melted away as soon as I held her for the first time.

2. You will love your second child just as much as you love your first. No, really, I swear. In her first two-and-a-half years on earth, I grew so obsessed with my first daughter that I seriously worried I wouldn’t be able to feel the same bond with a second. But the instant that minutes-old Goldie was placed into my arms, I looked up at my husband and said, “Oh my God… I love her!” She was immediately just as much mine as the first.

3. It takes longer for your body to bounce back. And that’s okay. Just as the baby bump appeared earlier with this pregnancy, the pre-pregnancy body has taken longer to return. With my first I was back in my jeans at 6 weeks postpartum, eating whatever the hell I wanted. This time, despite a nutrition plan, I’m still hovering a size or two above normal almost four months later.

4. You will need to get creative to hang with your hubs. Right now that means taking a long drive with them both asleep in the backseat or carving out an at-home movie night — but we have found ways to enjoy precious alone time even with a baby and a toddler at home.

5. I feel more like a mom now. Of course, I was just as much a mother when I had my first as I am now, but for some reason having two just makes it all more real. I was as deep in the muck and beauty of parenting then as I am now, but as a mom of two, the role has become even more of my identity. And surprisingly, I’m totally okay with that!

6. You will not be as eager for them to meet milestones this time around. It sound nuts, but with Baby #1 I couldn’t wait for her to roll, then crawl, then walk. This time, I am savoring every last minute of cuddles and put-baby-down-safely time before she’s up and around, and I’m totally outnumbered at the playground.

7. Dividing your time is hard, but not impossible. Schedules, check lists, and tag-team parenting are our go-to’s. Sometimes my husband and I feel like ships passing in the night. But if you work at it, you can be there for both kids. It just takes a little bit of adjusting — and a lot of love.

8. Showering is an absolute luxury. I never thought that something so simple as basic hygiene could seem like such a gift, but once I had a second child I learned real quick. The pockets of time I have to myself are so few and far between, and the list of things to do is always longer now. So, I have to prioritize sleep, eating, and bathing like never before. Thank you, deodorant and dry shampoo for spotting me in between!

9. Everything goes so much faster with your second kid. I hate it when people stop me to tell me this on the street, but sadly it’s all too true. So, if I can give one piece of advice to any mama expecting her second, it’s this: take lots of pictures, and put your phone down soon after doing so. You won’t get these years back, so you may as well enjoy them while they’re happening.

Photo: Getty