Saturday, May 03, 2008

Two Timing

A few lovely bloggers are about to have an addition to their families: their second child.

(Cue OMINOUS MUSIC)




Nah, it's not that bad - really!

(Cue MERCURIAL MUSIC)

Ah, that's much better. You see, I'm right in it. We had our second baby six months ago on this very date. We are right in it. (My favourite acting teacher would use the expression "in the shit", but contrary to what you might believe, being "in the shit" is a good thing.) I think that when people give first time moms advice, they tend to gloss over all the really crappy stuff because they don't want to scare them. You, my fine friends, have been there. You know that some of the stuff that goes along with being the mom of a newborn is pretty sucky. Personally, I would have preferred the truthy truth the first time around - I would have felt better prepared. However, it's nice to keep the veil of innocence going for as long as you can, too.

As to the question posed - Is the second child easier? - the answer is...drumroll please....

YES!

Absolutely. In an oh-my-sweet-lord-why-on-earth-did-I-think-this-was-so-hard-the-first-time and-what-the-hell-did-I-do-with-all-my-time-and-why-could-I-never-seem-to-get-anything-done kind of way. It really gives you perspective. I will admit that I was kind of dreading doing the whole baby thing over again because we had such a hard time the first time around. Every single thing was a struggle. Nothing came naturally. I enjoyed him so much more when he got older, and I thought why would I want to go back to square one again? Except that we knew that, down the line, we wanted to have children. Plural. Not singular.

The thing with the second one is, you've paid your dues. The learning curve is not nearly as difficult. Yes, chances are the second child will be completely different than the first, but you can still extrapolate all the information you gleaned from the first. And you know that not everything is a crisis. You won't Ruin Their Life if you make one bad decision. It sounds callous to say that you don't care as much, but it's a GOOD thing. You don't micro-manage every single minute. And everyone - baby included - can breathe a sigh of relief.

BUT.

You knew there'd be a "but" right?

The second baby IS easier, but managing the second baby AND the firstborn is somewhat tougher than I thought it would be. It's a real juggling act to handle two completely different schedules, and there's not a heck of a lot of downtime. It's tiring. So here's what I would suggest, at least for the first few months:

GET HELP.

We kept the Boy in daycare full time in the beginning, and though I felt guilty at the time, it was one of the best decisions we made. It keeps his routine somewhat close to normal, gave him social interaction that he wouldn't get at home, and gave me some time to focus on the baby.

GET HELP.

My husband comes home from work early whenever possible. My mom comes for regular visits, and will even take the Boy for the weekend. In the early days, playdates sounded like a lot of effort, but are much more relaxing because you have an extra set of eyes (and friends to talk to!). Minimize the time you're alone with two children at first, because it can be overwhelming to be outnumbered when you're so tired.

GET HELP. (Did I mention that already? I can't remember.)

Now that we've dropped some days at daycare, we're looking into getting a housecleaner once a month or so. I'm hoping this person might even be willing to do some laundry too (a girl can dream, right?). Both of these can become out of control rather quickly, and the last thing I want to do with a spare minute is clean or fold laundry.

At the end of the day, though, what makes it all worthwhile is the look of adoration in the Little Guy's eyes as he watches his big brother. It's heart-burstingly wonderful. I could throw out all the toys because he could occupy himself quite well doing nothing but ogling his hero. And to hear the Boy announce, every chance he gets, to all his friends and strangers too, "That's my baby brudder!" Well, it's music to my ears. And there is no sweeter sound.

All my best wishes, love and support to three soon-to-be moms of two: Her Bad Mother, Mrs. Chicky, and Mrs. Chicken.

16 comments:

kgirl said...

What she said. For sure.

Except, I had a c-section w/#2, help only for the first two weeks, no daycare for Bee and the worst winter in the world to toil through. It was STILL easier the second time 'round.

You will all love it. In fact, Chris has to go get snipped soon, or I'm gonna want a third. (TMI?)

carrie said...

Yes, yes and yes! Good help will make it sooo much easier.

And like I said over at Mrs. Chicken's place, the 2nd is easier, it's the 3rd that will kick you in the you-know-what! :)

Beck said...

The second baby was SO much easier - and now, with my third, it's SO easy that it feels like a vacation to just have one busy preschooler at home.
Laundry isn't that horribly hard to stay on top of once you start a routine, which makes me feel like drinking to even write down. But I throw a load in the washer as SOON as I wake up, switch it into the dryer after breakfast and that REALLY makes a big difference. Of course, then you've started your day with laundry, which is kind of depressing.

kittenpie said...

I am totally leaving pumpkinpie in daycare - she loves it, her friends are there, it will allow me to take the time with this baby that I did with her, it will keep her spot for my return to work, and it will save my sanity. I will pick her up a little earlier or bring her in a little later, so that we three have time together, too, but I think it's good all around.

And god, I hope it's easier, or that a few key things might go more smoothly. It's nice having most of what I need from Pumpkinpie, but I am also picking up a few conveniences that would have helped last time, too - a co-sleeper so I might sleep more deeply knowing baby is not between us, a bed for baby's room so I don't have to sleep on a lumpy futon on the floor on THOSE nights and wake up sore, a sling in case I can convince this one he wants to be worn close. And most importantly, of course, the knowledge that babyhood only lasts so long and I survived it once!

Her Bad Mother said...

HBF and I have actually been deliberating over whether to up WB's daycare days (she's currently in three per week) for a while, and you just convinced me that, yes, that is probably a very good idea.

Thanks for the reassurance about it being easier. Thanks also for the truth about that 'easier' being a *qualified* easier ;)

xo

Kyla said...

Well said, Nomo!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Chicky starts preschool in the fall but until then I'm thinking of hiring a mother's helper for the summer. I figure between that and my MIL I should have all the help I need. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking!

Thanks for the advice! This was extremely reassuring.

Mrs. Chicken said...

The Poo ups her school schedule from two days a week to three in the fall, just a few days after the baby is born. THANK GOD.

Thank you for easing my fears!

womaninawindow said...

For me having two home wasn't so much of a problem. There are 18 months between. Child #1 has always been more work. #2 just kinda hung around for the ride. And I wasn't so worried about #2's fragility. Shouldn't have been worried about #1's either. Didn't know then that she was made of dark matter!

Christine said...

amen! you've totally hit it on the head. the second BABY is easier, but having to care for a baby and a TODDLER can be tricky.

Ali said...

yes! getting help definitely, erm, helps :)

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Can I second that advice? Get help!!!

MaryP said...

My first two were three and a quarter years apart. Managing them wasn't too difficult, because the oldest was so much more independent -- which I hadn't realized until I had a newborn and he was SO DEPENDENT. My god, I was back to SQUARE ONE.

Four years later, when I had the third, I was ready for the shock of that, too.

The big challenge of the third is logistics, because the kids outnumber you now. Bwah-ha.

daysgoby said...

This is GREAT advice. #2 was both easier and harder for me - Easier because there were SO MANY THINGS I wasn't worried about (will I drop her? Will she BREAK? Will I stunt her emotionally?) harder because I kept expecting her to be JUST LIKE her brother.

Don Mills Diva said...

I love this post - great advice!

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

Found you through "Never too Late." Thanks for this post. I've been wanting a second but am scared shitless as I had really bad prenatal and postpartum depression with the first. I love the last little bit about your kids' interaction. How very, very sweet. It's stuff like that that makes me long for another little one.