When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, Rhett was barely 6 months old. I was so excited and thrilled to think of a second little one arriving in 9 short months. Having a baby had been such an amazing experience. My heart had nearly exploded the first time I laid eyes on my baby boy. Yes, parenthood was hard (like so many strangers had told me when I was very much pregnant and minding my own business in Wal-Mart ha), but it was so soooo good. After having Rhett I wanted ALL of my married friends to have a baby and experience this kind of love.
So I naively thought having a second baby would be equally earth shattering. I thought to myself, "I've already gone through the really hard adjustments - going from no children to baby stuff errrrrrwhere - so having another baby should be an easier transition, right?"
Well for me that was SO WRONG. I don't know if it's because I didn't have any expectations of difficulty, or if it was just that my pregnancy with Eli had been a near death experience, literally. But the adjustment from one child to two was the hardest for me thus far (and I just had my third!).
This doesn't mean I loved Eli any less than Rhett, but I was so exhausted and overwhelmed and unprepared that I think that overshadowed some of my joy in welcoming him into our lives.
Now let me clarify something here before I go on, I promise I am not trying to scare you. There's nothing I hate more than those Negative Nancy's who seem to have nothing better to do than freak out pregnant women. My motives in writing this post is simply to help you set your expectations realistically so you aren't totally caught off guard like I was, and can practically prepare emotionally and tangibly for this sweet baby on the way.
And every person is different. I've had mom's tell me their 4th child was the hardest and their 2nd was the easiest. So this may not even be your story. But I hope these 4 tips can help you regardless.
1. You will not get to focus exclusively on your new baby.
I think one of the hardest things about having a second baby (or third) is not getting to just sit and stare at them in wonder. I did this ALL the time with Rhett and I was taken by surprise when I didn't get to do that with Eli. I couldn't study his face and watch his rhythmic breathing when he slept. I didn't get to cheer his every kick and smile and stretch.
My focus was split between a crazy one year old who was newly walking and getting into all kinds of trouble and a newborn that didn't move. Guess who got most of the attention?
I think I felt a lot of guilt because of that.
I didn't want Eli to grow up and think that he was neglected as a baby and that I loved his big brother more. It's not a good feeling as a mom when you don't feel like your time is spent evenly between the kids. So just be prepared for that and combat those lies Satan will use to make you feel like you're failing. It's NOT true, even if it feels like it is.
I would highly recommend getting someone to watch your firstborn for a few days after you come home from the hospital. I know that you will have already missed your 1st baby due to being in the hospital for delivery, but trust me. It is SO wonderful to be able to soak in all of the newness of your new little one without being distracted and being back in your home environment. My mother-in-law did this for us (Rhett and Eli were sick with a stomach virus) and I didn't realize what I had missed with Eli! Having two days to just stare at Elliot brought back all of those feelings of wonder I had felt the first time around.
2. Your mind will not stop until you fall asleep.
I feel like even people without kids would say that this is true for them. But this is a whole new level of mind craziness. Caring for the needs of two children is just constant! You always have to be on your game.
I had a one year old who could just barely feed himself and a newborn that was being fed pumped milk (due to his 55 day NICU stay). So from the time my feet hit the floor I was fixing meals, making snacks, feeding bottles, and pumping, and that was only the food related things.
We read books, cuddled, ran around, and did it all over again. I thought I was exhausted when Rhett was a newborn, but at least during the day when he slept, I got to just be still.
Some days I just felt lost in the mayhem. Like I was going through the motions. My postpartum depression could have contributed to a lot of that. But I didn't like feeling so out of control.
But take heart, it did get easier. Your work load will not necessarily decrease, but you will become stronger. Some days it amazes me and I thank the Lord that I made it through the craziness of three little ones and it didn't feel INSANE. I have really good days and that includes all of the things that used to feel so overwhelming.
The Lord will equip you and help you learn to adapt and handle the new tasks a second little one brings. He will. I promise.
"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)
See God said it. So there. (ha)
3. You are going to be very tired.
Yeah, yeah. We all know having a baby makes you tired. Everyone and their mother tells you how you will never sleep again once baby comes. But just prepare yourself for a new kind of tired.
Not only will you be getting up a night, but you will have to stay awake and function during the day. Taking care of an exuberant toddler and a needy newborn when you've only slept a few hours that night is not for sissies.
I highly recommend asking for help when you can. Take every opportunity you can to take a nap. Have grace with yourself when you are grumpy or short with your husband. Because you are so.dang.tired.
But this will pass. I promise you. Just remind yourself that you have got to be tough for those first 6-8 weeks. Get a game plan, fill your mind with Scripture, ask your husband to pray with you every night. Do whatever you can to help yourself make it through this season. Don't go into this blindly.
4. Your heart is going to double in size.
I remember wondering how I was going to love another child as much as I loved Rhett. I know that sounds weird, and I may be alone in feeling that way. But it was true for me. It just seemed impossible to love that big twice.
But good grief, it happens.
It's incredible how your heart falls so completely in love with another tiny human, a human who will be totally different than your first baby. You will study them to find their likes and dislikes, what makes them happy and sad, and your heart will melt the way it did with your first when they smile at you for the first time. It's incredible.
I hope this helps you feel a little more prepared with what to expect with the birth of your second child. Don't worry, little momma. God gives greater grace, and although this can be a difficult transition, it is worth it. It is sooooooo worth it. This will be a blurry and beautiful season, so cherish it. Don't be afraid of it.
And before you know it, you will look back and not be able to imagine how you ever lived without those two little souls.