The Truth About Having A Second Baby

posted in: Guest Post, Second Child 38 comments
My first guest this week, Ado of The Momalog and I have a unique bond. We started our blogs the same month and she was the first bloggy friend to cross over to becoming a Facebook friend. Which is a big step, as we all know (online friend to real life friend!)

I love reading her words. She is a passionate writer (or shall I say, published author!), with no holds barred opinions on issues that matter to her. She makes me laugh frequently with tales of mortifying faux pas like toilet paper hanging out of her jeans. She moves me to tears with gorgeously written posts like the one about her mother.

Most of all, she’s a loving mother two girls, Fiona and Ella (the latter frequently says the darndest things!). So who better to kick off my guest series this week on dealing with being a mother of two? I dare you not to love her, like I do

Thank you Ado, for doing this for me. xo

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It’s a huge leap to become a mother for the first time.

But it’s also a huge leap to become a mother for a second time.

A different kind of huge leap.

I remember being off-the-charts anxious about how I would be able to manage two whole children when I wasn’t really quite sure how to handle one. But two!

Fiona was two-and-a-half when Ella arrived, and I was only just finding my rhythm as her mother. The thought of adding a newborn to our happy twosome, of turning the two of us into “three”, freaked us both out. (Note: I’m not counting my husband because he was at work during the day.)

When I was pregnant, Fiona said: Are you going to love me just as much as you do now when the baby comes

Of course, I told her. Of course I will.

Before Ella arrived, I secretly wondered if my heart could expand enough to love another child since I loved the one I already had so much.

But my heart did expand. It’s hard to explain but every time you give birth I think your heart expands in direct proportion to the size of the baby, times infinity.

What I would like to tell Alison is: cherish this down-time with Monkey, your firstborn. You’ll never have the same kind of uninterrupted, one-on-one time again – just the two of you. The dynamic changes when the second one arrives – but you will adjust, and so will Monkey.

After I gave birth at the hospital, I was holding Ella, who had finally fallen asleep. She’d had a difficult time latching on and I hadn’t gotten much sleep, so I was frazzled. Fiona ran in – but she was no longer my baby Fiona, no! She was a giantess! Suddenly she looked enormous! I could not believe how much she had grown in only a day since I’d seen her. She promptly jumped onto the bed and woke the baby.

I snapped at her. The baby began to cry.

My husband and the giantess (who had a betrayed look in her eyes) left the room.

Leaving me alone with a screaming newborn and a new kind of maternal guilt.

Not a great start.

I’d read all the books. I knew there was going to be a big adjustment period, for all of us.
We adjusted. It just took time.

Here are some tips that helped me:

  1. Make time for daily quality one-on-one playtime with your firstborn, while your newborn sleeps. During this time, follow your child – do what they want to do.
  2. Know that no matter how perfectly you try to do it, the adjustment phase will be imperfect and you will probably feel guilty. Frequently.
  3. It’s common for the firstborn to regress in areas of potty training, neediness, sleep, and other behaviors you thought they had mastered. This is normal – just keep giving ’em a whole lot of love.
  4. It can be scary to “go out” of the house for the first few outings with a newborn and a toddler. Plan it out in advance, and bring another adult with you. It gets easier.
  5. Enlist the “help” of your toddler with changing baby’s diapers ask them to hand you diapers, or wipes, or have them help you put the diaper on the baby), choosing the baby’s clothes, getting toys and so on. They love to feel responsible & helpful.
To me, the best part of having a second child, hands-down, is to see the bond your children share – the way they play together, all the time. I can’t even imagine how bored Fiona would be without her little sister, who is now her best friend and constant companion, there to play with, argue with, and love.
Alison
Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).
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  • January 31, 2012 Leighann

    Great advice!
    I think it’s natural for a mom to worry about loving the second as much as the first. That’s what comes to my mind when I think about having another one.
    Great tips.
    Leighann recently wrote…Teenagers… They’re Just ConstipatedMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Motherhood is Messy

    I remember these feelings exactly. Your first born some how has to take a backseat to the newborn which is a difficult adjustment. I always had quality reading and cuddle time with my first born in my bed after the baby went to sleep. My first born is 18 now and still loves to hang in my bed to chat.It paid off!
    Motherhood is Messy recently wrote…Are You A Stessed Out Mommy? No Need To Guess… Your Kid’s KnowMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Erica M

    Where were you two 10 years ago? This is great advice. Maybe I’ll apply this in 10 years to my grandchildren.
    Erica M recently wrote…maybe to make myself feel at home, I should rip the C key off my new keyboardMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Life As Wife

    This gives me hope that I can one day be a mama to a second kiddo!
    Life As Wife recently wrote…The Greatest Day EverMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 jlweinberg/jen

    Where were you when I was pregnant with #2 & #3? So many things you wrote echo how I felt & what I experienced. It would’ve been so helpful to read this back then. This is totally perfect advice for the new mom. I love your honesty.
    jlweinberg/jen recently wrote…An Unlikely FriendshipMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Kristin

    This is great advice. We did a lot of what you mention, but I think the biggest help was that we kept my son in his routine of daycare (he’d been in full-time while I was back at work) for several months – seven actually – after his sister arrived. We were lucky to be able to afford that. He loved “school” and it was his own. By the time he was home all day, his sister was no longer a newborn and could already play.

    Getting him to help change her and dress her and even bathe her was also a huge help for adjustment. For us, going out was never scary because I always wore the baby and used a stroller. It was actually easy. That’s the best advice I can give – if you don’t have back problems, wear the baby! Saved my sanity living in a City where the subway and sidewalks were my life.

    Great post – it’s tough with two close together, but it is wonderful when they are older.
    Kristin recently wrote…Glad I Saw It: Reading the PaperMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Leslie

    I’m loving this series as we await our #2! These are some great tips from a mother with adorable kids!
    Leslie recently wrote…Game Day Chili RecipesMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Galit Breen

    This is lovely, and poignant, and true, ladies.

    Holding onto that vision of siblings- is such perfect advice!

    I remember a friend saying that no one will be able to make your second laugh like your first; and that first smile-giggle-belly laugh, carried me through many a tough day!

    {Great post, you two!}
    Galit Breen recently wrote…A Family HeartMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Jackie

    Amen Ado! Amen!
    The best advice I received after baby 2 was born was to just do it! Got to go to the grocery store w/both, don’t think about it! The infinite number of what if’s can leave you paralyzed with fear. Just don’t think about them, just do it! That’s how I got through every day.
    Enjoy the ride Alison!
    Jackie recently wrote…Life is but a songMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Jessica

    Amazing advice, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been TTC with #2 and I’ve worried so much about this and have already felt so sad at the thought of it not just being me and my firstborn anymore. So funny you said this but I too always think “how could I POSSIBLY love another baby the way I love my first?” Great post!
    Jessica recently wrote…Lemon Crinkle CookiesMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Kimberly

    Great advice and it’s all so true! It’s a change, but you won’t be able to remember life before #2 arrives.
    Kimberly recently wrote…My ParadiseMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 angela

    Such good, heart-felt advice. I had the same moment where my not-yet-two year old Abbey suddenly morphed into a giant version of herself. I suddenly felt like I should just give her a set of keys and warn her about the shady boys she would encounter at college the next day 🙂

  • January 31, 2012 Jess

    My second was born 5 1/2 years later so in some ways it was easier but in other ways not so much. It’s an adjustment no matter what the gap in age but your ability to love does grow.
    Jess recently wrote…When Mommy Naps…My Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Katie E

    My second girl was born when my oldest was 2 1/2, so we went through a lot of these same things. And it’s true that the older kid suddenly seems like a giant when there’s a tiny baby in the house! And yes, even though they fight and complain about each other a lot, they are great sisters and friends who share a room now. I also recommend giving the older kid a small gift from the new baby when they first meet. My oldest still remembers what she got from her sister, and it helped with the fact that all attention was on a new baby.
    Katie E recently wrote…Monday Listicles: A 10 Song Soundtrack of My LifeMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Lady Jennie

    It’s fun when three of my favorite bloggers guest on another favorite blogger all in one week! (Alison, take care of yourself).

    I agree with number 4. My son was born in January while my daugher was 18 months. I remember taking the graco double stroller down in the elevator folded (because you couldn’t fit it into a tiny French elevator unfolded), and trying to get the dang thing open one-handed in freezing weather with a baby in one arm and the terror that my other “baby” would run off. I wanted to bring a shotgun to the house of the guy who designed the graco double stroller so poorly and vent my full wrath.

    Not a super start there. Things are better now. he he
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Drama, Drama, Dra …My Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Blond Duck

    I don’t have kids yet, and sometimes I get overwhelmed by the notion of balancing a husband, puppies, babies…
    Blond Duck recently wrote…Creative Woman of the Pond: Tina from Florida Girl with a New LifeMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Jim W.

    It is crazy how, as much as you love that one child. . . you love the next one. Like babies are little love factories and the more you have the more you love.

    The really tricky part is learning to balance how much each one needs you and making sure to carve some time out for them both.
    Jim W. recently wrote…Alright, You Listen Here, B!tc#!My Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Not a Perfect Mom

    I have 4, and I totally think the biggest adjustment is 1 to 2….after that it’s gravy…throw me another dozen kids…ha!
    oh, and Alison, don’t leave Monkey alone with the baby, even to go to the bathroom, in 30 seconds Blake had Jack wrapped up like a burrito telling me “he likes it!” um, no…the baby doesn’t like not being able to breathe…
    Not a Perfect Mom recently wrote…Double Fat Ass SyndromeMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 tracy

    So perfectly put. I love this..and now glad to get to know you better..and spend some quality time on your blog…xo
    tracy recently wrote…A Friend of ConvenienceMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Suburban Snapshots

    A lovely post, but I’m still not sold, even as one of three girls.
    Suburban Snapshots recently wrote…This One Will Make My Mom CryMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 RoryBore

    I love encouraging posts like this that offer some truly great advice that we can all follow. well done!
    RoryBore recently wrote…Tuesday Coffee Chat: The Hard Truth of ParentingMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Jessica

    I recently became a mom of two so this post resonates with me. I think I worried about all of the same things that most moms worry about when pondering the prospect of adding children. I worried about how I would be able to love them both. And, when my second daughter came, I worried about ruining my first daughter’s childhood. Time is what has made things a lot easier for us. Time has made room in my schedule for the things I assumed I could never do as a mom of two. We are still adjusting, but we are getting better at this, with time. I know you’ll do great, Alison. I know it!
    Jessica recently wrote…Second birthdays are more funMy Profile

  • January 31, 2012 Katie

    Great post. It brought out everything I remembered about that feeling of #1 being just huge compared to my newborn #2. And the worry of how to love both so much. Now I have newborn #3 and the very first comment I made seeing her was how tiny she was (nurses were confused because she was a very healthy 7+lbs). Now that I have the experience of #1&#2 loving and playing together, I know that #3 will just bring more love, arguing, and playing.

  • February 1, 2012 julie gardner

    My son was just 24 months old (AKA two – ha!) when his baby sister was born.

    I remember the first time I changed his diaper after coming home from the hospital with a newborn.

    With that enormous white butt, he looked like he should not only be potty-trained but heading off to college. So I get the “giantess” thing.

    Hard.

    But having two is the best thing ever.
    It just is.

    And I can’t wait for Alison to get there.
    Telling her to appreciate her time with Monkey now, though?

    Great advice. Best ever.
    julie gardner recently wrote…Today call me laidMy Profile

  • February 1, 2012 Kimberly

    This is weird because I was thinking last night while snuggling with my son, how in the world could I ever love another the same way.
    Kimberly recently wrote…The BookMy Profile

  • February 1, 2012 Charlotte

    I can see why Ado is so dear to your heart. Her words are delicious. So excited for this phase of your life, Ali, and I just hope you’ll keep us updated whenever you can when baby #2 is here!
    Charlotte recently wrote…going under the needleMy Profile

  • February 1, 2012 Lovejoy

    I really like this post..Thank you for sharing this to us..
    Lovejoy recently wrote…Colon Cleanser AdviceMy Profile

  • February 1, 2012 Mama Track

    I’m so happy to read this. My second is 2 months old, and we are at that “crisis” point in my first’s adjustment. He’s clingy and needy and desperate. I keep telling myself to just give him some time. This is just the encouragement I need.
    Mama Track recently wrote…Diary of a Stomach BugMy Profile

  • February 1, 2012 Just Jennifer

    Even my children, who are 5 1/2 years apart, are bonded as siblings. Even they play together. They’re relationship isn’t perfect, it’s theirs, and I’m so glad they have it.
    Just Jennifer recently wrote…My Husband is EnoughMy Profile

  • February 1, 2012 Ila Hassan

    Thank you for ur honest writing…

    I’ve been thinking to start hving a sec child when my first get 2yo but even know she is 20month old, I still have the feeling that I can’t let it happen. I’m scared that I can’t manage both of them. Having one is just hard enough for me.. But your writing makes me feel a lil better.. I hope one day I’ll be ready..

    Have good day.

  • Great post, Ado, full of spot-on advice! And Alison, it’s scary, it’s overwhelming, but it’s also wonderful and its ‘ll going to work out 🙂 I remember the night I came home to my toddler daughter with my newborn son. I had spent one night away from home having him – the first I’d ever spent away from her. When we arrived home from the hospital, my daughter cried as though her heart was broken for 2 hours. I thought, what have I done? I am one of four. I adore my siblings. I wanted my kids to have that. But I was clueless to think it would just happen. These things take time. And patience. And lots of love. Hugs even when it’s hard to give them because your toddler is behaving like a maniac. One-on-one time with your toddler while the baby sleeps even though you’d give anything for a shower. But before you know it – really! – you’ll have the system down, and faster than you think, your two little ones will be enjoying each other, the start of something truly wonderful for them. Just wait until you see the baby’s face light up at the sight of his/her older sibling! And even though it’s impossible to imagine that you could love anyone as much as you love your Monkey, you will. They are each their own individual selves and you will be amazed at how full your heart is. Now, when you make the jump to three, and you and your husband are outnumbered, that’s a whole new story…. 🙂
    Susanna Leonard Hill – Children’s Author recently wrote…Would You Read It Wednesday – The 25th PitchMy Profile

  • February 2, 2012 Natalie

    I always wonder how mommies do it…I feel like I would totally fail at trying to chase after two little ones…but I know people do it all the time! I’m scared 🙂
    Natalie recently wrote…Recipe#3-Roasted Pork LoinMy Profile

  • February 2, 2012 Rach (DonutsMama)

    I often wonder too how I’ll love another child. It’s nice to know that you felt this same way. I know my heart will expand, but sometimes it feels so full and big right now and I just love our little family. But yes, I do want my daughter to have a sibling to bond with.
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently wrote…Is This Seat Taken?My Profile

  • February 3, 2012 Mrs. Weber

    Aww, love this. I too, wonder how I’m going to find more love in my heart for baby #2. Glad to see it’s “easy.” 😉 And the photo of the two of them just melts me!
    Mrs. Weber recently wrote…Taking Cues from a ToddlerMy Profile

  • February 3, 2012 Runnermom-jen

    Wonderful advice! You’ll always have room in your heart for another child. When we brought #2 home from the hospital, my oldest (who was 18 months old) hit her. That was the first time he was put in the naughty corner. He adjusted after a while, and #2 is one tough cookie 😉
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…SurrenderMy Profile

  • February 9, 2012 Venus

    We’re getting ready to start trying for Baby 2, and we’re so impatient. The fear hasn’t hit us yet… but I know it will once we actually get preggers (if we are so blessed). Thanks for posting this, I feel like I have a head start on the hard stuff! 🙂
    Venus recently wrote…Don’t worry, everyone will be drunk anyway.My Profile

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