A few weeks ago, I reached out to my community of amazing women and asked for some advice on becoming a mother of two children.
I asked only one question: “What do you wish someone had told you about having a second baby?” I was blown away by the responses I received. Women from across the country, with children of all ages, opened up and spoke honestly about their experiences of being a mother to multiple children.
At first I was thinking I would condense their words and only publish a few, little quotable bits. But as the responses started rolling in, I decided instead to publish everything as a mini-series of guest posts. I have learned so much from reading the words of these incredible women. Whether you are (like me) currently expecting your second child or are a veteran parent of multiples, I hope you are also able to benefit from hearing the stories and perspectives these women have shared…
Real Advice for Mothers Expecting A Second Child – Part 1
“I was prepared for so many things going into the second round. The birth was “easier”, the post-partum recovery was quicker (at least the physical side), I knew how to take care of a baby, I already had gotten used to having less freedom. But I just wasn’t prepared for the guilt and the lack of balance that our second brought with him. It didn’t help us that he was a more “challenging” baby or that my husband took a job further away, or that I had baby blues pretty severely.
It’s only now, 15 months in that I’m starting, just barely, to feel like I’ve got the hang of it again and to enjoy the days rather than just get through them. Our son has had medical issues that caused sleep problems I hadn’t even imagined could be possible and I discovered that without sleep I become someone unrecognizable to myself. It was hard to find joy.
My main tidbit would be to mention that number 2 was harder on my relationship with my husband. We fought and we were distant from each other. We were in constant negotiations about who would do what night shift and which chores. We have always had a solid relationship and so this distance really caught me off guard. Part of it is someone always having one kid or both and very rarely getting time off, or even better, time alone together.
The sweet sibling love does make up for it and we do at times even imagine having a third (but some say this is even harder).”
– LP, mother of two, ages 4 years and 16 months
“Some parts are so much easier than I expected (for me, the first 6 months). Then others that I thought would be smoother sailing turned out to be hard (when sleep did not improve during the following 6 months). So, expect the unexpected, or if you prefer a more pessimistic approach- just lower all your expectations and you’ll be pleasantly surprised sometimes.
When my younger son was born, suddenly my 19-month-old got big. Of course, nothing changed but my perspective, but he went from being my baby to the big boy overnight, because my frame of reference was suddenly this little newborn. This sudden shift in how I saw him actually caused me to feel less close to him for a while (like I didn’t know him as well anymore) which, of course, I felt guilty about.
We did not (and do not) have set times to spend with the children, in large part because my husband’s schedule changes every week, and the hours change from day to day. But if you can possibly schedule time alone with the older sibling every week, do! I cherish the times I get to hang out with just my older son, there’s none of the bickering between the kids, and it strengthens the bond that tides us over through all the craziness.
Also, be kind to yourself. And keep a stash of small but special new things for the big sibling. When they’re feeling neglected, even 5 minutes of intensive mommy-time with a new toy can turn the day around. The toy part is obviously less essential than the mommy part, but it can help engage both of you if it’s something new & interesting to you as well.”
– TG, mother of two, ages 3 years and 2 years
“If you are still nursing the first child and the baby comes, get ready! The first born who was almost weened nursed more than she ever had before. Same thing is happening with my middle child when his baby sister was born!”
– HS, mother of three, ages 6 years, 3 years, and 4 months
“It can feel like the world exploded once you have two babes in your arms, but it gets better. One day you will look up and realize you just had an entire uninterrupted hour to yourself because your sweet sibs have been happily playing together in the other room.
You will also have days when you are climbing the stairs with a baby in one arm, a load of laundry in the other and your toddler will drive herself between your legs toppling the whole troupe and you’ll fall to pieces sick with both the fear that you almost just crushed both of your children, anger at the world and despair that you really, truly can’t do this.
You will survive. You will sleep again. By yourself. Or with someone you actually want to have sex with. You won’t always be changing pee-sheets at 2 am. The all-you-can-eat buffet dripping from your chest will one day be closed from sundown to sunrise. Hang in there, sister.”
– SC, mother of two, ages 8 years and 5 years