1 + 1 = only a little more than 1

I wish there was an easy way to explain how having a second baby is different from having a first baby, but there are SO MANY WAYS I don’t think I can. When people talk about having a second baby, they talking about “doing it again” – “Oh I couldn’t do that all again! The spit up! The diapers! The sleepless nights!” – but they forget that all the OTHER stuff is easier. Yes there is going to be a ton of poop, but you’ve gotten so good at pinning down a squirmy baby while you change them it only ends up on your clothes once a day! Or even less!

I should probably include a disclaimer that my second baby is a much easier baby than my first, but honestly I’m not sure where the line between “easier because she was born more easy-going” and “easier because I treat her differently” falls. It’s like the chicken and the egg, if the chicken is a mother who is often distracted by a toddler licking things he shouldn’t be licking and the egg is a baby who has learned to only scream for attention when she’s about to be eaten by wolves or fall down a well. There is something to be said for nature – Little Evan has some sort of crazy silent, painless reflux that turned him into an 8 pound vomit machine and Caroline has thrown up half a dozen times in her entire life – but the way I nurture her is definitely making a difference.

For example, we are sleep training Caroline, which is something I literally couldn’t even imagine doing with Little Evan. My brain shut down and my head hurt and my boobs tingled just thinking about LEAVING MY BABY alone to cry in the dark. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of nights he cried in the crib but it was after HOURS AND HOURS of rocking and nursing and begging and banging my head against the wall wondering why I was such a failure as a mother. It never occurred to me he was just really tired and if I put him down for more than 30 seconds he might fall asleep.

But Caroline has been acting nocturnal and I’ve been totally exhausted and unable to parent my OTHER kid during the day plus I decided it was sort of ridiculous she would ONLY sleep in her baby swing at nine months old. So we put her in the crib. That’s it. She’s fussed a few times, but if I let her roll around and shout indignantly (as opposed to because she is hurt or hungry or needs something) for five minutes she sleeps like, well, a baby. I know the crying won’t kill her because it didn’t kill the first kid. I have tangible proof I am capable of keeping a human being alive despite my mistakes, and that confidence is PRICELESS.

It also works in the other direction – because Caroline takes more hands-on time than Little Evan (except on the days when he’s potty training, which is one of the reasons we haven’t been trying too hard but now that he’s showing a lot of interest we’re going to have to and OMG I AM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO IT) he has gotten more independent and really improved his communication skills. He’s also more loving and affectionate, which I suspect is because I spend so much time holding the baby he wants some cuddle time of his own. I call that a win-win.

Even when things that worked the first time (ahem, babywearing) don’t work so great with baby #2, I have enough confidence in my own mothering skills to just move on and try something else. It’s making this whole parenting gig much more fun.

I’m assuming the next kid will just be born walking, talking and making my morning coffee.

(p.s. Caroline took 6 steps TWICE on Sunday. Remind me to re-read this post when they start running in opposite directions)

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14 Responses to “1 + 1 = only a little more than 1”

  1. Swistle says:

    I remember enjoying my second baby so much more, too. My memories of the time in the hospital with the first baby are all “What? What what what? What what? What?”—whereas my memories with the second are all “Ohhhhhhh what a cute baby! He’s so cute! I love his fuzzy head! Oh I’d forgotten the way they nuzzle in! Ohhhhhh he’s so cute!”

  2. erniebufflo says:

    I hope this is true of TWINS?! and I get to skip straight to easy happy babies. Every day I say little prayers over my growing belly. “Please be healthy. Please be chill. Please be big fans of sleeping.” If, in fact, I get kids who are like hubby and I were as babies, then they will be awkward, sweet, quiet little things, and I’m fine with that.

    • bebehblog says:

      I was actually thinking about you a little bit when I wrote this, and decided it both DEFINITELY applies and does not apply AT ALL.

      On the one hand, they are both your first baby, so you don’t have the advantage of a pretty normal 2 year old to reassure you your capable of keeping tiny humans alive for at least that long.

      On the other hand, since you and Jon are going to be man-on-man defense right from the start, you’re going to have a lot less time to agonize over every single decision and just focus on figuring out what WORKS and STICKING WITH IT. Also, it seems to me (from my extensive research a.k.a. reading blogs on the internet) that moms of singletons seem to give moms of twins a break when it comes to Always Doing Things The Way THEY Think Is Right and getting a reprieve from all the judgment might make some stuff easier.

      p.s. I am going to hear “twins” as “TWINS?!” from now on. As, I am sure, you do.

  3. Brittany says:

    I’ve been feeling more confident about this second baby, as I know I won’t be quite as neurotic about things now that I know what works and what doesn’t. Or that if something isn’t working, I can try something else. Rocket science, right? This post definitely helped me feel like I can do this!

  4. Cole says:

    This post is very reassuring for Mommy, as she is getting very anxious {terrified!} about her ability to mother 2 of us at once… Although, she will be SUPERsad if Squishy doesn’t like babywearing

  5. Katie E. says:

    I completely agree with you – the second is not nearly as much additional effort as the first is. You already know how to be a parent, and that’s part of the scariness of the first one.

    And you’re right – the third one’s a piece of cake :) Especially if you wait a few years so that those other two can take care of the third. I don’t think I could have handled three all at really young ages – as my mother (also a mom of 3) pointed out to me, you only have two. So she wasn’t surprised when my older brother knocked down a display in the grocery store because she couldn’t hold his hand.

  6. Kimberly says:

    I was just telling a couple yesterday that going from 1 to 2 was MUCH easier than going from 0 to 1. Looking back over each boy’s first year, I would have to say that JD was actually the easier baby (probably why I was pregnant again by the time he was 6mo old), but I think it’s safe to say that O is 10x better than he would have been if I had had him first. I just can’t cater to every screech and non-life-threatening stunt.

  7. You make it sound really wonderful :)

  8. Sarah-Anne says:

    bahahaha, that last line is priceless.

  9. erniebufflo says:

    Also: I had to add, because I LOVE annoying my be-childed friends by comparing their kids to my dogs, that I found this to be absolutely true of getting a second dog. They entertain each other, keep each other company, and our older dog actually taught our younger dog a lot of things. Sure, we spend more on food, but it’s totally worth it. Everything I know about parenting, I totally learned on the Dog Whisperer.

  10. this was not a healthy post for me to read due to my recent bouts of baby fever. dang you suzanne…. dang you!!

    but really? i LOVED reading this. thanks for being real.

  11. Julie S. says:

    This? Is what I needed to read today. Hilarious, and SO true.

  12. andrea says:

    I am totally bipolar when it comes to having another kid and reading this post made me want to have one NAAAAOW. I was like “no, way, not for a while” yesterday and will probably say that again tomorrow. So I’m just going to bookmark this post and keep it in a secret place so I can read it every time I think “Bresho will grow up without siblings, waaa, waaa, waaa”. love you xx

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