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A coworker once told me it takes six months to get the hang of a new job. I don’t know whether she based that time frame on any scientific studies, but it sounded about right to me. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I anticipated some transition time as I took on my new role as a mother of two.


My first day began as I happily went into labor a few days before my scheduled c-section. Compared to my water-breaking-five-weeks-early emergency birth of my first child, the birth of Baby Number Two was blissfully normal. She came into the world screaming and healthy. I kept waiting for the emotional wave of postpartum to wash over me like it had with my first, but when week one passed without incident, I was optimistic.

Then came week two of my new gig. Screaming turned out to be the norm. As I settled into sleep deprivation, I sent a bleary-eyed text to a friend who’d had a baby two months prior. I asked her to remind me how long it would be before things got easier. When she texted back “Yeah that first month is tough,” I thought “Month?! How am I going to survive the week?”

Crashing came the wave of postpartum emotions. How had I forgotten nearly everything about newborns? Surely some evolutionary mind games were at play as I pondered how people had more than one kid. Forging through those first sleepless nights felt like the hazing of a first time mom again.

But I wasn’t a first time mom. Through the eyes and experience of a second-time mom, I tried to remind myself that the struggle was only temporary. A line from an old Elton John song kept playing through my head.

“Don’t wish it away

Don’t look at it like it’s forever”

It was from “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,” a song my girlfriends and I had belted out many late nights in college. Now it had new meaning for me.

“Don’t wish it away”

Being present with my first baby was effortless. I remember staring at her flawless face, bawling my eyes out because I wanted her to stay that tiny and perfect forever. Now with Number Two, I was fantasizing about fast-forwarding to a time when she could hold up her head, sit without tipping, and maybe, just maybe, calm herself down.

“Don’t look at it like it’s forever”

Month one passed and, of course, I survived. The verse kept repeating in my head.

“Don’t wish it away”

She was likely my last baby, so I didn’t want to forget the sweet smell of her head or the weight of her body on my chest. I knew she too would be growing and changing quickly before my eyes. Seemingly overnight, my first “baby” had become an active and amiable three-year-old who adored her new sister. Staying present took more work this time around, but I still tried to relish the moments of joy between those long, lonely nights.

“Don’t look at it like it’s forever”

I’d comply every time my older daughter asked to hold her little sister and I’d melt as she’d softly pat her head and gingerly stroke her cheek because she thought the baby’s skin “was just so soft.” Postpartum moods subsided. Things started to get easier.

By month three, I was working again and time began passing a little too quickly. Sometime between months four and six, I found myself breastfeeding in the Costco parking lot, changing a diaper on the middle car console, and thinking I’ve totally got this!

Now I’m fully through the baby stage and my job has evolved to include school schedules and play date planning. There are still meltdowns and melodrama and I don’t always sleep through the night. But when I catch my girls sharing an overly-aggressive hug or laughing over a joke I don’t get, I know I’ve hit one of those sweet spots of parenthood. And somehow Elton captured that too, in next line of the song:

“Between you and me I could honestly say

That things can only get better”

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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