3 Things I’m Doing Differently with Baby Number Two- And how it’s making my life easier
The moment my second child was born and placed in my arms, I recognized that familiar full tidal wave of all-encompassing love washing over me. There was that same exhilarating moment of this brand new life being placed in my arms.
There he was: that face I had spent 9 long months dreaming of. The feeling that I could spend forever memorizing every single centimeter of that face. The way that warm little body fit perfectly in my arms. The smell of the top of my baby’s head.
I had done this before, and it was the best feeling to feel again. I felt the connection, the awe, the exhaustion, the pain, the gratitude.
But I quickly discovered how different almost everything else was with my second child. Even that very first night of his life, I knew it would be different. I knew I was different.
For starters, I wasn’t absolutely panicked that I was now in charge of a tiny human life. (To be fair, I was still a *little* panicked. Does that ever fully go away?)
But I spent more time relishing in his newness, soaking in every moment with him, knowing in a blink this would all be a blurry memory. In that hospital room with my second, I knew it would feel like those sleepless nights were an eternity, and then I’d blink, and my baby would be getting ready to go off to kindergarten. I knew that, because that’s exactly what had happened with my first child. And so I savored each moment just a little bit more, and worried just a little bit less.
There are a few key things I am doing differently as a parent that has made my life noticeably easier the second time around. Here are three of those things:
I rely on my village a lot more.
If you’re lucky enough to have a village, let them be your village. The first time around, when friends would offer meals or to clean or to keep me company, I often declined out of fear of being a nuisance. Now, I understand that they want to be a part of this chapter of my life because they love me, and their offers to help are sincere. I also know now how genuinely helpful those times are when someone else is helping carry your load. There will be nights when the dishes are stacked high in the sink, when the laundry is overflowing, and there is nary a meal in sight at 5pm. So on the nights when someone offers to help, let them. And more than anything, when they ask me how I’m doing, I’m honest this time around. Having a village isn’t just about allowing them to help you with the physical stuff, but to carry the emotional load with you, too.
I am embracing the fourth trimester.
The fourth trimester is the 12-week period after a mother has a baby, and it’s incredibly developmentally significant for both the baby and the mother. This period of adjustment, acclimation, and recovery requires extra TLC for both baby and mom. And so this time around, I allowed myself to truly rest in this period. When I was invited to events I didn’t feel ready for, I simply didn’t go. I prioritized recovering and resting in this period. It also meant that every time I was tempted to feel pressure over not fitting into my jeans yet, I reminded myself that I was still in the fourth trimester and that what I needed was grace. This shift in my expectations the first 12 weeks postpartum has been so powerful for not only my physical recovery, but also for me emotionally as I truly listen to what my baby and I need.
I am no longer stressing the small stuff.
My baby doesn’t need the most picture perfect nursery to be loved well. He isn’t always in the cutest matching outfit, and I didn’t take those staged monthly pictures the way I did with my first. And honestly? I’m less stressed. With two kids now, my house isn’t tidy until the end of each day, and I’ve learned that that’s okay, too. Even when it comes to tracking my baby’s leaps, I find myself stressing less about what the apps say, and feeling more confident that my baby is on his own perfect timeline. As long as he is thriving and his pediatrician is happy, then there is no need for me to worry or compare him to others. I’ve let go of a lot of the things I stressed about with my first, and have found there’s a lot more room now for simply enjoying my children when I’m not worrying about the small things.
The truth is, I knew right away I was a different parent with my second child. I could feel it in my bones. I loved him with the same depth and protectiveness and pride I loved my first, but I am a different mom now. I am so grateful for the lessons I learned (often the hard way) with my first child; they helped me become a happier and more confident mom the second time around.