Having my first daughter was an extraordinary experience, changing everything: my title (i.e. from non/mother to mother), priorities (from myself to my child), free time (from everything after work, to only when the child sleeps or I have a babysitter) etc.
The second child does not bring so many new things (mainly for the first child, but I am not writing about that this time). So what is different?
1.The baby is not THE focus
With the first child, the baby is the main character in the room. Everyone looks and smiles at him, all the talk is about him. Every time the baby cries, everybody runs to the baby. Nobody can tolerate the baby crying for over 5 sec.
The second (or third, or fourth…) child remains in the background, as the older one needs to be “groomed” first (unless the age difference is so big, that the older one is already an adult, I guess). My rationalisation of this is that the baby will not remember the baby years, but the toddler (or an even older child) will. Thus, when both the baby and the toddler cry (happens, oh it happens a lot), I run to the toddler. The baby can wait a few minutes. Especially because satisfying the baby’s needs (changing diaper, for example) can be dangerous with an angry toddler around.
2. Daily routines do not change so much
The first time our daily routines changed completely. We did not leave home for a couple of days, did not go far from home for the first weeks. Everything was first time: first time changing a diaper publicly, first time having baby in the car, first time pushing the pram, first time going to the supermarket, first time flying, first time going to the doctor… All of these things were new and scary. What if the baby will start crying? What if the baby will be hungry? What if…? What if…?
With the second child, these things are tried and most importantly, I know I can deal with them. If the baby cries, I will try to comfort her. If she is hungry, I will feed her basically anywhere. If the diaper needs changing, I will quickly find where to do it. And if she is still crying – well, babies cry. People at the doctor’s office, in the supermarket, on the plain know that. They may not like it, but what else is there to do (knowing that I already did everything I could). I cannot believe how simple it is, but how difficult it was the first time.
3. Shopping for the baby: I know what I want
Everything was an unknown territory the first time. What is a bodysuit? What is a carrycot? Does the baby need a different towel? Pillow? Swing? Play mat? I have researched everything as I did not want to buy too much stuff, but at the same time did not want to miss the really good and useful things. My daughter was the first baby I ever held, I was the first one from my closest friends group to become pregnant. I had no idea what and how you use for a baby. I first learned that babies actually do have PJs and do not just sleep in the same day outfit when my daughter was 3 months!
Now? I knew exactly what I wanted the day I got pregnant. I mean, I did not know I was pregnant, but I could have already answered what is my shopping list for the new baby. To begin with, we already had the basics (except the things we sold or gave to others), so the list was much shorter. But I also knew the things I missed with the first one, like a carrycot for the pram (such a useful thing!), snot sucker and NOT clothes in size newborn as our older daughter wore them for about 2 days. She could have easily survived those two days in one size larger outfits.
4. Silence and small sins
Remembering the first months with the first daughter, I remember these things:
- Silence and peace – a lot of sitting and admiring the baby sleeping on me. Plus, as I wrote in the first point, the moment baby started even thinking about crying, I was ready to satisfy any needs she had.
- Lots and lots of cake and candy. I had an enormous hunger for sugar in any form as I was significantly overproducing milk and needed the energy FAST!
- Lots of TV. I saw so much Netflix crap as it was a way to relax while breastfeeding and having the baby sleep on my chest.
- No peace, no silence.
- Lots of cake, but only after 8 PM. Otherwise I have to give sugar to the toddler, which is of course only an option very very rarely (and yet more often than I would like to).
- A bit of TV, only after 8 PM. Otherwise the toddler will be exposed to way too much TV and will not get to play developmental games, which I do not have time to arrange (thus it ends up being whatever I can grab with one hand or talk her into).
5.Protectiveness and illnesses
This is the unfortunate one. I was shocked that the baby number two got sick already at week four. She got a (minor) fever and snotty nose (luckily, I already knew about snot sucker, see point 3). Thus, nothing major. But my first daughter was around 10 months when she got her first fever and I was disappointing about my inability to protect the little one.
However, it should not have come as a surprise. I am forced to be much less protective, like attend such germ paradises like kindergarten (every day!) and super loud and stressful places like playgrounds and amusement parks (pretty much every day). I am not even talking about not noticing that the baby has lost a sock or is no longer wearing a hat.
I will admit that I have read a few of such posts in other blogs, which has inspired me to write down my own experience. Some of those things (no, actually make it most of those things) did not fit at all. But I will come back to this another time.