My sons are currently two and four, but I can still vividly remember the period leading up to my second child’s birth and the weeks after. It was such an emotional time full of anxiety, sadness, excitement, worry, anticipation…I was pretty much all over the emotional richter scale!
I was sad that my time alone with my first child was coming to an end, excited to be having another baby, and worried about how we would all mesh together and if I could even love my second baby as much as I loved my first. Because I like, really loved him, I was sure more than most other people could love their babies. I just couldn’t fathom loving a second baby as much as I loved my first.
In hindsight, I realized I was worried about things that would work themselves out so easily…like my heart expanding to definitely love another baby as much as my first…and I didn’t think so much about the things that were actually going to be hard. Like the reality of juggling a toddler and a baby. I could’ve never predicted it though, so it’s just something experience has to teach you.
The Adjustment: my time.
I wasn’t exactly expecting how much of my time would be torn between the baby and my toddler, especially at first. I remember seeing someone carry my toddler down the hall while he just looked so sadly over their shoulder at me as I sat in bed with the new baby. It was the first time I felt apart from him. It’d been me and him for the last two years, and now I had this new baby in my lap who needed me constantly.
I know they say to babywear your baby and magic and glitter will fall from the sky, but it just didn’t work out like that most of the time for us. My second baby never was fond of carriers (I know, right?! How is that possible?) and also….I was really exhausted. My boys weren’t on the same nap schedule and the baby woke up all night; I was on auto-pilot for several months, just going through the motions. Did I mention I was tandem nursing them? Yeah I felt like that’s all I did was breastfeed someone every minute of the day.
Looking back, if I could give myself any advice now, it would’ve been to definitely take the time as often as possible to hand the baby to someone else (or during the baby’s nap) and give my attention fully to my older child. That sounds so easy to do in theory, but when you’re exhausted and you feel like the mess in your house is caving in around you (our house was cray for like the first year) and you just want to sit in peace for a few seconds before the baby wakes up again, getting up to go play with a toddler makes you want to have your own mini tantrum. But do it, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It makes all the difference in the world.
The Adjustment: my heart.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was worried about not loving this baby as much as my first. Little did I know, my real problem would be loving this baby just as much and feeling guilty of my older child seeing that. It almost felt like I was cheating! I would find myself cooing at the baby and notice my toddler watching us. It broke my heart!
It’s especially hard at first because the baby isn’t very interactive and can’t play with the older child, therefore it’s difficult for the toddler to see the baby as anything more than this blob that takes up your attention and steals your admiration. I combated this with giving my toddler as much attention and love as I could, and I didn’t shy away from showing love to the baby. I wanted him to see that. I started referring to them as “my babies” and I always said “your brother”. I wanted my toddler to feel like him and the baby were on the same team.
Two years later
My boys are super close, they play so much together and my oldest one likes to say all of our names and then say “we’re a family”. Anytime they aren’t together, they legit freak out; they don’t like to be separated. As for me…I get way more down time thanks to how much they play. I can love on either of them without the other one getting jealous or without feeling like I’m cheating on someone! All of the craziness of the first year – the messy house, the endless hours of breastfeeding, the constant demands of a small baby…they’ve all but almost faded from my memory!
Not to say that the first year was a total nightmare, it just had it’s fair share of hard and challenging moments. And the exhaustion. Oh the exhaustion. Also fading. So my conclusion – it’s demanding, draining, and difficult at times…but so rewarding. It’s this maze that you will wander through and figure out on your own. And when you get to the clearing, you’ll think “Ah, this is so nice! I’m so glad I have my babies and that we found our way!” Or something like that. What I’m trying to say is: you will figure it all out, you will survive, and you won’t regret this journey.