The second time around is totally different, isn't it? Maybe your bump is getting less attention, and you thought that'd be a relief, but you also kind of miss it. Certainly you're not blissfully arranging a tidy pink or blue nursery with all of your spare time—you're chasing another kid, you don't have spare time. You know what to eat, how to sleep, what to expect at your doctor's visits, and what to wash the baby's laundry with. But there is also less time and energy (maybe even motivation) to put all of that knowledge into practice, and being on the cusp of welcoming a second baby can get nerve-wracking very quickly.
When I found out I was pregnant with Edith, my second daughter, I couldn't imagine how I would handle it. I feared missing out on time with my firstborn, Iris. I worried that one-hand-per-child wouldn't be enough. I couldn't fathom what it would mean to have another little body in my care—let alone another personality, an entirely different person with potentially different needs, different habits, and different tastes and opinions. Those fears didn't even touch on more selfish, personal concerns: Would I have the energy? Would I ever sleep? What would my body look like after growing, producing, and sustaining a second human?
Whether you planned to the day when your second baby would be born or you found yourself more fertile than ever after baby number one, it is fair, normal and even right for these questions to cross your mind. The fact that you're wondering how it all works proves that you have just as much love in your heart for baby number two. Embrace that, and remember that when it comes to your second child, you are no novice.
When I had Iris, it rocked my world. I went from being in charge of no humans, to being in charge of a human. I went from being pretty selfish, to putting the well-being of another person always, ever ahead of my own needs. I didn't eat, didn't sleep and sometimes didn't bathe, all in the name of caring for Iris Ann Noel, the tiniest love of my life. As she grew, so did my capacity for managing her needs and mine. We found a rhythm, and we started piecing our new life as a little family together.
When Edith was born, I lost out on (a lot of) sleep. Sometimes I skipped or delayed a meal. I didn't always shower every day (let's be honest, I still don't). But I became Edith's mother with a measure of confidence I didn't know lived in me. And in all honesty, my transition from one to two children was so much easier than my first steps as a mother. My second child gave me the gift of confidence, and I was able to cherish our first weeks together in a fresh, organic way.
And the thing about not having enough love? I didn't have to worry about that. The love was born with Edith—it was there, just as she was, and it was abundant. Iris and I had already spent 21 months together; and our routines were disrupted,of course. But we used the relationship we'd already formed to bring Edith into our family. Iris knew me like I knew her, so we worked together, and her tender child's heart was proud to change things up and adjust into big sister mode.
Because it was easy to love a second child, I found it easier to adjust to the other things as well. I released Iris into her role as “big kid." I knew better than to starve myself or not wash the spit-up out of my clothes right away, and I found the strength for self-care sooner than I had the first go-around. We were all more confident, healthier, happier.
When it comes to motherhood, it's okay to feel a little nervous: your capacity for love and care and compassion increases ten-fold, and a little worry is a natural by-product. So don't feel guilty about the fears of having a second baby. But rest easy and find your confidence; because you've done it before now, and you'll be able to do it again—and well!
Photography by Kristy May for Well Rounded NY.