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Baby #2 has thrown us into survival mode—but I know this feeling won't last forever

“Don’t get divorced. It gets easier.”


A stranger in an elevator said this to me once, as I loaded in my big red double stroller. She peered over to see my newborn son and 16-month-old daughter, and I briefly smiled as we made eye contact.

She said it sweetly, “My children are older than yours, but I’ve been where you are. Don’t get divorced. It gets easier. Good luck.” Then, the doors opened, she left, and I let her message absorb into my skin, into my brain, and into my heart. The advice was abrupt and not accurate. Divorcing my husband had never crossed my mind, but somehow, it was just what I needed to hear, and maybe it’ll help you, too.

Having a second child threw our family balance farther out of whack than we anticipated. We had a false sense of confidence, believing we knew what we were doing because we’d done it once before. But bringing a newborn home when there was already a young toddler in the house created an entirely different dynamic than adding a baby where there previously had been none.

On the first night we were home with both kids, we stood in the hallway, looking at each other with wide eyes, each holding a screaming child. I asked, “What have we done,” and my husband didn’t have an answer. We were in survival mode, adjusting to new routines, responding to our children’s needs and adapting to life as a family of four.

When I entered that elevator with my children a few weeks later, we were getting into the swing of the new schedule, but we were still just surviving. My husband’s and my time as a couple wasn’t just on the back burner, it was chilling in the fridge, something we hoped to heat up eventually, but definitely not today. We were way too consumed with these babies and too tired to think of anything else.

So, when this well-meaning stranger acknowledged the stress we were under, it made it okay to feel it, and it encouraged me that our new normal would eventually arrive. If I’m being really honest, life didn’t feel “easier” for an entire year, but we got there eventually.

I don’t mean to imply that my children’s age gap created a harder adjustment than your children’s age gap did for you, or that having children of different ages is harder than having a single child or multiples. Nor am I arguing that there aren’t valid reasons for seeking a divorce. I’m simply sharing my experience with you and this bold assertion that a stranger once told me in case it resonates, like it did for me.

Interestingly, this stranger’s advice might be right on the money, according to 30 years of marriage research that finds relationship satisfaction tanks during the transition to parenthood, but that divorce rates actually decline, too, once kids enter the picture.

The research suggests that all marriages face stressors and children are just one of them. Kids may exacerbate other issues with finances, careers, extended family, or prior traumas, but rarely do they single-handedly implode a marriage. And, surprisingly, parents of children with special needs are, if anything, just slightly more likely to divorce than other couples with children, which is counter to what I’d heard in the past. 

So maybe being married with children does get easier, or maybe it gets more manageable, and we get better at it. We find a different kind of satisfaction than we had in pre-kid couplehood and develop a different type of bond through parenthood.

I’m not naive enough to think that this statistical drop in divorce rates after children implies all couples find that new kind of happiness. You and I both know at least one couple who is staying together for the sake of the children. I’m optimistic, though, that there is a group of us couples (whether you have an official marriage license or not) who do get stronger in parenthood and have more motivation to work through the tough times because of it.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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