Whilst I was pregnant with my second baby, the first a toddler of 2, I was frequently told having 2 children would be either “so much easier coz you know what you’re doing” or “it’s just literally double the work and worry”. Now, with my little number 2 about to graduate from newborn, my conclusion is that it’s exactly and entirely BOTH those things. Here’s how it went for me:
The “easier” bits:
- The Birth: I don’t think I’ve met a single mother who’s second birth story was worse than her first. For me, whilst the second took longer it was undoubtedly easier. The first time round the mounting contractions scared the wits out of me. It’s when they start to get towards the ouchy stage and you have absolutely NO IDEA of how much more painful they are gonna get, that it messes with your head. With my first (Holly), 2 hours in I was in a blind panic thinking Owwwwwww! This is my limit!.. Help me!…… DRUUUUGS!! In actual fact, half an hour later, little Miss Holly was lying on my chest and it was all forgotten. Therein lies the rub…. when number 2 is knocking at the exit door you know EXACTLY how bad it’s going to get…and most importantly, you know you can cope, you know that you forget and you know its utterly, utterly worth every second.
- Letting go of your pre-baby lifestyle: Second time round this is painless, because it’s quite simply already gone. With number 1, I think it takes a good couple of weeks to realise that life as you knew it has pretty much packed its bags and gone to live in Australia (at least for a gap year). By the time number 2 comes, life as you knew it has been torn down and rebuilt – and yep it’s better. You only ever really look back nostalgically – you don’t really want to go back there.
- Shopping: First time round, for me, it was like – WOW there’s an entirely new sector of shopping malls that are now relevant for me. PARTY ON! I bought bottle warmers, singing sheep, bath liners, hundreds of baby gros (sleeveless, short sleeved, with pattern, without pattern, with sleeves but no legs…blah, blah), shoes etc etc. By the time your first baby is 1, you discover just how much stuff you never used. Up to 12 months, baby clothes expire in size every 3 months (or less). You could make a marquee out of the unused babywear from baby 1. Second time round, you just know. And by the way, until they walk, babies really don’t need shoes (and that includes Hunter wellies and baby Havaianas, but then you should still buy them coz they’re cute).
Other things that are easier include: dealing with nappies, curing nappy rashes (Sudocrem!), coping with little sleep and bathing baby (you’ve learned how robust they are and that having spent 9 months in water they are kind of at home there).
The harder bits:
- Pregnancy: Whilst any pregnancy comes with its own unique cocktail of aches, pains, nausea and ad hoc afflictions, the second is harder because, both to yourself and to others, you’re simply not as special. You friends have seen what you look like as a weeble, you don’t have enough time to hang around looking serene and magical and your parents are distracted by the gift you have already given them. Second time round, its less a celestial experience, moreover a 9 month wait with cumulative discomfort (AND with a little being tugging at your leg asking for chocolate and Peppa Pig on the Ipad).
- Getting anywhere by car: I once plotted a process flow chart for getting 2 children somewhere by car. It blows your mind. Travel systems, buggy clips, safety harnesses, car seats, wrapping seat belts round car seats, all with an overlay of high pitched wailing and protestations. Sometimes you will just stay at home.
- Weight loss: I seem to remember that at about 6 months after Holly was born I was near enough back at my pre-baby weight (albeit with a softer belly). I’d not done much really to get there. I was back running (slowly and not far), whilst eating a lot more cake. This time round at the same stage I’m still about the same weight I was when Holly was still in there. I guess I must just be eating bigger cakes.
Things that are just the same
- Illnesses: Whilst you may not panic as much, having a sick baby is always horrible. Even though you know about “the glass test”, any rash will stop your heart, cries in the night will jump start your heart and the sad face of a sick baby will break your heart. No experience changes that. Dig in.
- Baby weight gain tracking: There is something about percentile charts that are designed to unnerve. Whilst Holly was not that interested in food and it was all about getting some pounds on, with Ben I’m obsessed with his length (10th percentile.. but head is 50th… will he balance??). Percentiles simply make you think too much.
- Multiple, random, daily guilt trips: If you’re a mother and you don’t feel guilty about something, well… you should …errrr probably just feel a little bit guilty about that!
And finally, and of course the most important thing……………..
How much you love them. There will always be something special about your first baby. The same way there is something special about your first kiss, your first car, your first…well, you know – everything. The thing with second babies however, is that whilst the experiences are happening for the second time, it’s still the first time you’ve met this particular little human. That’s where its heart stopping, earth moving, life affirming magic all over again.
Contributed by our guest blogger Jackie Wilson. Jackie has worked extensively in marketing for brands including Twinings, Del Monte, Kingsmill and Cathedral City. She is now living the ex-pat dream in Malaysia. She’s mum to two lovely children and is combining looking after them with some freelance writing, most recently for Bonda, the magazine for Malaysia’s equivalent of the NCT and ABWM Mag (Association of British Women in Malaysia). Her Malaysian journey is chronicled in her blog at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you’d like to get in touch she can be found at Jackie.email@example.com.