Just when everything has fallen into a rhythm, when life has become so normal as a family of three, you decide to add another baby. And now, it’s too late to change your mind! You may be entering the terrifying trimester known as the “How Will I Ever Handle Having Two Babies” time of the pregnancy.
You know that somehow it will work because it just has to, but that doesn’t stop the anxiety, fear, and guilt before this baby arrives.
OH, THE GUILT.
There is the guilt of thinking there is no way you will love this baby as much your first. There is guilt about making your first child grow up faster than needed, and the overwhelming guilt of not doing enough or being enough for either child. Welcome to Motherhood Part 2.
Along with the guilt comes an anxiety unlike anything ever experienced before. The dreams about forgetting the new baby in the car, a park, or even at home. The fear of not knowing where one child is, and that child being lost – or worse, taken. What if you aren’t as good of a mother to this baby as you are to your first? The anxiety can wreak havoc on your pregnancy and fourth trimester after baby arrives.
The fears with having baby #2 can be more consuming than with baby #1 because now you know how hard motherhood is, it is all-consuming. You may fear the birth, the change in relationship between you and your first born, and the new relationship between your first and second babies. There is so much unknown in this parenthood world that you thought you had under control now. Balancing life, a marriage/relationship, children, and everything else is scary, and adding another ball to juggle is downright terrifying.
But You Are a Pro.
Breathe. Make time for a few yoga classes and prenatal massages. You’ve got this. Adding another child to your family might be scary, but it is also the most amazing gift you can give your older child. You are giving them a built-in best friend, a relationship that will be framed with love and supported by trust. You haven’t messed up too bad yet, you aren’t going to fail at this challenge either.
There is a beautiful thing that happens as a second (third or fourth) child enters the family: your heart grows. It is indescribable until you have experienced it for yourself. It is as if a part of you wakes up that you didn’t even know was sleeping. Your arms cradle this baby; your lips kiss his head; and your first born follows suit.
Yes, there will be struggles. There will be time management issues on your part of juggling it all. There will be diaper explosions and potty training messes that make you curse the sky. There will be pushing and sharing lessons spoken about time and time again. But there will also be hand-holding, hugs, and bed sharing. There will be shared books, kisses, and snuggles between them. It will all work out as it is meant to be, and you will be the one they both call ‘Mommy.’
Transitioning to Two
As a mother to (almost) 5, friends often ask me how hard to was going from 1 to 2 babies. I can see the fears in their eyes, and I am brought back to that time. But I have the ability of having hindsight now, and it is 20/20. If I can provide any advice to those making this transition, it would be this:
- Continue your relationship with your oldest. A baby carrier keeps your hands free, baby close to your heart, and gives you the ability to keep on playing!
- Include your oldest in new things like picking out baby clothes, cooking meals, and daily chores. Allow her to feel responsible for new things.
- Take breaks whenever needed. There is no shame in calling in Grandma so you can take a shower, a nap with the baby, or pour a glass of wine to recollect your sanity.
- Adding a child can cause you to become overprotective or trigger a need to relax more on your parenting. Embrace your parenting style and let it grow as you do.
- Babies cry; toddlers cry; mommies cry. Not every day is going to feel like a Rockstar moment, but some will!
- Whether the age difference is 18 months or 5 years, there will be positives and negatives, but dwelling on anything negative is not positive. Instead, jot down a list of pros if you need to reread them!
- Understand that you will not have the same relationship, same love for each of your babies. They are different, and you will parent them differently. Allow them to be different and love them exactly how your heart guides you
Words from Mothers of Two:
It was actually a little harder than I thought it would be- Joey was only a little over 2 years old when Annabelle came along- so I don't think he really understood what all was happening- it took us all a little while to adjust to an extra person in the house who needed our attention- We made sure we made one on one time with Joey - and also included Annabelle in story time at home and play time. - Andrea
I was prepared for personality differences but Sierra is only 6 weeks old and already she is so different in ways I didn't expect. She had a terrible tongue tie (heart shaped tongue) which made feeding issues and now we are battling bad reflux neither of which my older son had. So the confidence I had going in for two kids with even basic care has been completely different. – Stephanie
I was petrified and certain there was no way I could possibly love another human being the way I loved my first. I would stay up at night thinking how am I going to ever love this baby the way I love her? Once I had him, I could not believe the overwhelming feeling of love for this little boy I was experiencing; how my heart and my world just expanded in seconds. I was relieved, very relieved but then I must be brutally honest, I love each of my children, I love each of them just as much as I love the other. Yet I do not love them the same. My love for each of them is so different, their needs for me are very very different, but the feelings are just as intense and magical for each of them. – Tara
It was hard to adjust when our family grew to two children. Change is always hard. It took us all a little time to get used to the transition, to find our groove again. We struggled at times, I felt like I failed at times, but we got through those early days. We made a new normal. Our second child brought so much joy and love to my heart, I would hold him and close my eyes and repeat to myself over and over that I wanted to remember this - I wanted to remember every sweet moment of those earliest days with him. I wanted to remember holding and staring at his sweet, tiny, squishy self. Even though it was hard, it was the most wonderful, rewarding, and worthwhile gift we could ever imagine giving our family when he came along. – Christine
always heard horror stories of going from one to two when I in fact found it very easy. It was so nice to have a toddler to help with the breast engorgement. – Ivy
Although Finley isn't here yet I will say that the biggest challenge for me is my emotions. Hoping that Eloise doesn't feel neglected... it is my biggest fear that she would feel like that! I want her to know she is and always will be loved just as much! I have so many things running through my head about being a mom of two and how to balance it all!! – Karissa
I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I'd love another as much as I loved my oldest. But this little critter was born and he was so different from my oldest. It was so easy to love him and his uniqueness. – Denise