When you get pregnant with your second child, chances are that you’ll spend the next nine months worrying quite a bit. Sure, you know how to handle a newborn, and you know all the tricks that go along with feeding and burping. You’ve been through the introduction of solids, and those crazy few months of your little person becoming mobile. An added bonus is that your house is already baby-proofed! More than any of that, chances are that your busy social schedule has long been traded for countless nights of Netflix binging. So no worries about how you’ll adjust to your new life as an exhausted parent, falling asleep on the couch by 10 p.m.
But when you learn that you’ll be adding a second child to the family, you worry about different things: How will your older child adjust to the change? How will you and your partner deal with the baby when a toddler is already a handful? Everyone talks about the big switch from zone defense to man-to-man—but how will that translate in your household?
As I wade through my first few weeks as a mother of two, I have come to realize a few things that I hadn’t really considered before. I still have a lot to figure out (how do you handle a toddler mid-tantrum when the baby is screaming to be fed??), but my husband and I are slowly getting our ducks in a row.
1. Your older child will seem so much bigger than before the baby was born
But he’s still the same little boy you loved a few weeks back. It might be tempting to treat him like a big kid and expect him to suddenly act more mature, but keep in mind that this is a major adjustment for him too. Before baby, he was the baby, and that’s all he knows. Oh, and the toddler’s poop is far grosser than you remember too.
2. Your experience with your first child has prepared you well
You’ll realize how easy you had it when there was just one kid. Now you won’t think twice about changing diapers, getting a teeny infant bathed or dressed, or what to do about all that spit up. It’ll be second nature, which is good because you won’t have time to figure this stuff out—you have a toddler screaming in the next room.
3. Sleep deprivation still sucks
Prepare yourself if you can. Recruit help from family, doulas, night nurses, the nice lady who gave you a look of pity in line at Starbucks, anyone you can. You’ll need the rest to keep up with the older kid. When baby is sleeping, chances are you’ll be playing tea party or monster trucks, and not making up for the two hours of interrupted sleep you got in the middle of the night.
4. You’ll become ambidextrous
With your first child you figured out how to eat with one hand (and do everything, really, while holding a baby.) This time you’ll be doing more than you ever imagined. Nursing a baby, making dinner for the older one, all while wiping his mouth of the snack he’s eating now. You’ll use your dictation tool on your phone more than ever, and your coffee will always be cold, but you’ll drink it anyway.
5. Recovery, especially if you had a C-section, will be far harder
Because you have an older kid now, and because the first time you didn’t have to do anything but sit and stare longingly at your newborn. Do anything you can to get some extra help because you’ll need all hands on deck.
6. After those first few moments or days of bliss, you’ll wonder how insane you and your partner were to upset the apple cart
Because now everything is way more difficult and you approach Baby #2 knowing it’s going to suck at times, but it will be worth it in the end. Keep your eye on the prize. This too shall pass.
7. The pets will suffer more than you know
Just when the dog was getting used to being chased and ridden around the house by your older kid, you’ve added another monster to the mix. (At least he can still clean up the food the toddler throws on the floor at mealtime.) Just remember to feed and walk him. He’ll appreciate the attention. He was probably your first baby, after all.
8. It’ll be unbearably heartwarming…
…to watch your older child love the new baby. Sure there might be some dicey moments of jealousy, but for the most part, your little ones are going to adore each other. My toddler made me melt when he ran across the room with a burp cloth, saying “Oh no!” just to wipe the baby’s mouth of spit-up.
9. You will fall in love all over again
What they say is true: you can and will love your second baby as much as you love your first. You heart somehow has room to grow after all.
10. If it were ever about you, it’s not anymore
It’s about “us” now. With one kid, you can potentially have a sane life and fit in all sorts of interesting adult things to do with your free time. But now, get ready for quite a few years of activities that you can all do. Daniel Tiger Live, here we come.