Everyone asks, so what is it really like going from one baby to TWO? There is no simple way to answer this question. Sure, there are more diapers, meltdowns, things to clean, and more to manage overall. But there is also a completely new and amazing dynamic in our household – more hands to hold, more smiles to see, more giggles to hear.
If you are going from one baby to your second – the journey will be unique on its own! There are a few take-aways from my own experience below.
You already changed your life
Having your first baby is the big game changer. Your life is completely reoriented all at once. Your body, physical space, work-life balance, marriage, friendships, responsibility load, sense of family, sleep quantity, “free time”, emotional experiences, concern with health and safety, financial duties, time management (and more) all get hit – and hit hard! Having your second baby adds to this list but it doesn’t invent it or overhaul it for the first time. You’re already there.
Things are already expensive
Kids are not cheap. We know this. From diapers, to formula, childcare, food and all the gear (car seats, strollers, clothing, etc.) – parents spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to raise their children before even considering education costs. That financial hit is more real and raw the first go-around. Having your second child isn’t a savings, obviously, but you do experience some cost reductions. You can re-use a lot of the gear and clothing, and you might have already been able to find the most affordable ways to otherwise sustain a lifestyle (like taking out books from the library, or shopping at used kids clothing stores). If your kids aren’t too far apart in age – you might be able to buy things like diapers and pull-ups in bulk, and they can share in similar developmental stage games and toys. Perhaps your daycare gives a discount for siblings or your babysitter only ups you $2/hr for the second kid.
Expectations Are Managed
When your first child arrives, you might have read all the books, taken all the classes, checked out all the blogs and talked to every mother you could about what to expect. But, alas, every experience is unique in it’s own way. There was nothing you could really do to know how becoming a parent would influence you and what the experience would be like within your home. Bringing a newborn home for the first time can be incredibly scary and exciting at the same time – but there are a lot of firsts in that journey. Like, trying to figure out breastfeeding or how to get your child to sleep through the night. Once you have your second child, you have been through a lot of those first. Your second child will be different and the dynamics will be unique again, but your undertaken of it all will be of a practiced parent.
You Have More Confidence
If you are anything like me – you made a lot of mistakes the first go-around. There was a lot you could have done differently, better, quicker, more efficient or effectively. Instead of letting your first-time anxiousness take over, you’ll be more confident the second time around. The experience will be special but it won’t be unknown. You will find self-assurance and trust in the undertaking and experience much more readily.
There is Only One You
You are divided. There is no way around this one. Once upon a time you could devote all your time, attention, love, effort and energy to one little human. That was an exceptional experience, significant and powerful in so many ways. But now there are going to be two little humans and life will be different. Learning to wholeheartedly embrace this concept, not just accept, can be difficult. It is both an emotional and a physical undertaking. There are only two hands, two ears, one lap. There is still only the same amount of time in the day. There is only so much energy you can put forth. Finding way to share the moments together, or give each child individualized attention is something you will have to work on. But it is so possible and so wonderful. You will find new strength, methods and means of doing, and find joy in a bond between all of you instead of just the two of you. There is room in your heart, lap and life for more than you now know.
You Will Have More Guilt
When I learned I was pregnant again when my first son was only 18-months old I felt both an overwhelming sense of happiness and joy that left a goofy smile on my face. At the same time I felt a complete and utter mix of guilt, helplessness and sadness. I felt as though I was robbing my first baby of a bond we could have had longer, just the two of us. The attention and love that was just going to be just for him, longer. I was going to have to divide and conquer, and share less and less time, energy and space with my first. I would look at him and start to cry, he didn’t know what was coming! What he would lose! But alas, I came to my sense. I was giving him a beautiful gift. We were giving our family more! There would be more happiness, more love, more joy, more smiles, more support! There wasn’t going to be less. He was going to be getting a sibling – a brother – a best buddy for life. It wasn’t able me, it was about them.
You Will Get Less Sleep
There is no other way to put it. You are going to get less sleep. There will be nursing at the beginning, and then learning independent sleep. But there will also be twice as many regressions, bad dreams, sicknesses and worry. It will be worth it.
It’s Harder to Mobilize
Honestly, it just is. You have to get two bodies in and out of the car or onto a plane. You have to pack clothing and toys for two people. Worry about snacks for two hungry mouths. It just is what it is. It won’t last forever.
More Chaos and More Joy
Our house was loud and busy from the get-go with our first boy. Now, it is twice as loud and busy. There are more messes, more noises and more destruction. But there are a lot more giggles, smiles, games, and belly laughs. There is more fun, more joy, more happiness for everyone.
It’s Really Real
With one, you can wing a lot more. You can go with the flow, change plans more easily, even plan for the future with less to worry about. With two, there is so much more to consider – like if you have enough diapers and milk for two – and who is on what nap schedule. Saving for two colleges, not just one!
There is a lot more to manage both inside your home and in the world outside your four walls. But the realest thing of all is the gift you have given to your children – a sibling. You cannot predict what their relationship will be like, you cannot force their bond to be something it is not meant to be – but there is a chance you have given them the greatest gift of their life, each other.