[Disclaimer: if I switch between tenses inappropriately or my grammar is atrocious in any way, I’m pulling the baby card]
On April 3rd, 2019 at 9:24 pm, the baby girl I grew from tiny heartbeat to tiny toes was placed on my chest and my world changed in an instant. Isla Emiko, my sweet island blessing, arrived in all her glory with a head full of dark, velvety hair and arms and legs that never stop moving. I am head over heels.
With the arrival of this new bundle of joy, I started thinking about all the ways pregnancy, birth and caring for a newborn are different the second time around… in some ways the same, in some ways as different as can be.
Pregnancy #2 brought with it the delightful nausea, vomiting and heartburn present during pregnancy #1 but with a bit less anxiety – I think when you have survived it once, you just learn to cope (Amy Schumer’s hilarious Instagram account also helps). There are no longer tears associated with retching over a toilet bowl; instead you take a break in between making dinner for your toddler to run to the bathroom, puke, wash your hands, and get back to the spaghetti on the stove top. You also have said toddler to care for and they can be heartless (cue Logan running into the bathroom after me to “fake vomit” and laugh at me, as if I am putting on some comedy routine).
Time also moves a lot more quickly the second time around… you don’t have the luxury of napping or stewing about the thoughts in your head. You have that toddler to care for, remember? So you don’t really slow down. You just keep moving and doing your best to perform the same juggling act you always do, except with a bigger belly and swollen feet.
Birth is less of a daunting thought – you’ve done it once, you survived, you can do it again. I will say, however, that things can move a lot more quickly the second time around… I used to marvel at women who didn’t make it to the hospital in time (how is that possible???), but when I went from 4 cm to 10 cm in 20 minutes and Isla was a “two push, welcome to the world baby,” I totally understood. Never doubt a mama when she tells you a baby is coming – trust me, we know better than anyone.
Perhaps the biggest difference and stressor the second time around was wondering how my relationship with Logan would change. In fact, the ONLY tears I shed postpartum were tears of sadness at the lack of time or patience I was feeling toward my firstborn initially. I would snap when he acted crazy or wouldn’t listen and then immediately feel bad and wish I had more time and energy to give to him (I knew a lot of antics were being pulled for my attention). I worried he wouldn’t understand or would think I didn’t love him as much anymore… but honestly, he has adjusted far better than I could’ve ever imagined. He hugs and kisses this baby about 100 times a day, runs and grabs me clean diapers when I ask, tells her he loves her, includes her in his nightly prayers and asks to snuggle next to her every night so he can count her fingers and toes. He’s also high fived her in the face by accident and thrown a pillow at her head in an attempt to play, so fear not, the situation isn’t perfect. But we’re learning.
This time around, I haven’t cried about breastfeeding or exhaustion – I function far better on fewer hours of sleep, am feeling more positive, and have established a much better, more pleasant relationship with nursing. With Logan, I was counting down the days until I could stop without guilt – it was hard and painful and I was just SO tired.
I also worry less about everything with baby in general – I don’t panic about sterilizing everything or about minutes clocked of tummy time or about the color of poop. I know what to expect, when to expect it, and how long various seasons last during infancy. I credit part of this to having done it once before and also to my job as a pediatric nurse (I have learned so much from the other doctors and nurses I work with, thank GOD).
I’m a little more touched out this time and a little more desperate for long showers and a second to myself because two is certainly a lot more to juggle than one, BUT I am also trying to soak up this time a bit more than before because I know it is fleeting and before I know it this baby will be running after her big brother and talking up a storm.
My advice to first time moms? Trust your gut and know that every single new mom feels the same way you do – there is a lot to learn and a lot of unknowns… we have all cried over cracked nipples, sleepless nights, a husband leaving to go back to work and a sick baby. My advice to moms about to do this again for the second time? The relationship you have with your first born is bound to change slightly and you might shed a few tears and grieve a loss… but they are still there, growing and learning and entering a new season with you. Keep giving them hugs, apologize if you snap for no reason, have them serve as your little helper and remember – a sibling is quite possibly the greatest gift you can give a child (my sisters are the greatest part of my childhood). Everything will settle down.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must somehow figure out how to use this nursing cover and discreetly feed my kid in the middle of a coffee shop after I wipe a few crumbs off her head.