Lessons Learned. Transitioning From One to Two
If you’ve just added a new little bod to your happy family or are pregnant with your second, you might be starting to wonder what you’ve let yourself in for. Well, I’m not going to lie, the first few weeks were tough for us, despite having done it all before. Six months into maternity leave for the second time though, I can honestly say, the initial stresses are gone and we’ve settled into being a family of four. Here’s a little insight into what I’ve learnt along the way.
The baby bit is easy
Seriously! When you give birth for the first time, you’re home from hospital, dazed and exhausted and you’re left to cope with a bundle of chaos who has literally turned your life upside down. Your days are filled with uncertainties. Can I break her? Is she too hot or too cold? Is she feeding properly? Is this poo the right colour? You’re exhausted, not only from night feeds but from waking up to check if your precious new addition is still breathing.
By the time the second baby comes, you’ve done it all before and you don’t have the added stress of answering these questions. You’ve learnt that 99% of well-meaning advice is not worth listening to and you know what works for you and your family.
Ok, the sleepless nights and raging pregnancy hormones are still there, but you’ll find you’re much more laid back about this whole parenting a baby thing and you may even find that your baby is more chilled out as a result.
This leads me onto my second point…
Parenting number one is suddenly much harder
This will largely depend on the age gap between your kids, but when number 2 came along, my usually delightful 2.5 year old became a whole different little person. We were anticipating that she would find it difficult, after all, she was our entire world up until this point and then she had to share our love with a little stranger.
However, I wasn’t prepared for quite the change in her that followed. Although thankfully her fondness for her sister was immediate, she was very jealous and it showed in her behaviour. She took her frustration out on me and didn’t want me for a while which I found very hard. It was so heart breaking seeing how rejected she felt and it showed in her actions.
You can love this much again
After having our first baby, I just couldn’t comprehend that it would ever be possible to love another human being as much as I love her. This actually worried me when I was pregnant with our second. I think many Mums have this fear. Thankfully, seeing my little one’s grinning, cheeky face fills me with the same all-consuming love that I feel for our eldest.
Sleep deprivation is still a killer
Sleep deprivation the first time is a shock. Sleep deprivation the second time is still a shock. With baby number one, you’re not used to the sleepless nights and it’s a hard transition to make, made worse by pregnancy hormones sending you into a state of crazy. With the second, this is still the case and although I found I adapted much quicker, I had still to be up at 6.30 with my toddler regardless of how much sleep I’d had.
There are no duvet days and napping when baby naps when you have two. It’s up and about, business as normal, building dens and jumping in puddles. On the plus side, being active helps you cope with the tiredness and you are already a pro at learning to function with very little sleep.
Guilt. Oh the guilt!
This was my biggest woe when I became a parent of two and it still is. Guilt over turning my eldest’s world upside down. Guilt that I can’t give her 100% of my attention and play the constant games that I used to. Guilt that she now has to be the ‘big girl’. Then there is also guilt that my youngest won’t ever get the amount of attention my eldest got and will have to just slot into life as it exists.
Slings are a lifesaver
I’ve always been a fan of a sling over a buggy, but when you have more than one child, I’d say a sling is essential kit. It means that you can carry a screaming newborn close to your chest to calm them, whilst also not neglecting your newly anxious child, who wants to be reassured that you still love them and now needs your attention more than ever.
They are also incredible for having two hands free to capture escaping toddlers rather than having that terrible conundrum, ‘do I leave my baby and buggy and sprint after my toddler, or do I take it with me and risk not getting to my child in time before she hurtles herself into the duck pond’.
Avoid open spaces
To stop the above experience, at least in the early days, I found it paid to avoid open spaces so my toddler couldn’t go too far from my grasp whilst I was feeding our baby. My little girl was always brilliant about only going where I could see her, but once I had our second and she was going through her uncertain phase, she was prone to legging it when it was most difficult to follow. I quickly put together a bank of places that I could go where I knew she would be safe, such as mother and baby groups, soft play centres (small ones) and parks with no water or roads nearby. On the plus side, you get very good at moving and feeding. Again another plus for a sling if you’re breast feeding.
First time Mums will annoy you
I don’t mean to be disrespectful, I was a neurotic first time mum once, but when you are beyond exhausted and trying to maneuver through life with two, fussy first time mummies talking about how tired they are can grate. Tired? Try getting up through the night and then still being enthusiastic at 6.30 am. Haven’t manged to get anything done? Please! I still have to wash my toddler’s clothes and make dinner for her even if all my clothes are covered in sick and I haven’t eaten all day.
Despite everything, it is 100% worth it