When you have your first baby it begins to dawn on you that there is really no turning back from this parenthood thing. There is no option to ‘return to sender’ and you are literally stuck with them for life (thoughts of them ever moving out seem too far-fetched, dangerous and outright selfish!). Life begins afresh for you because you’ve never existed as a parent before.
Raising subsequent babies will not be much different because babies cause more or less similar changes to families regardless of their position. The dynamics might remain the same but there will be some subtle differences in how you handle parenthood this time around. Here are a few of them.
Much less worry
A first-time parent will worry about everything. The babies seemingly constant crying, burping, hiccup, a slight rise in body temperature, a slight rash, poop (or lack thereof) and even farts will get you from calm and composed to crazy woman in seconds. Sleeping, eating and playing schedules run your life and you worry when the neighbor’s kid starts walking and yours hasn’t even stood up yet, wondering whether yours will need physiotherapy.
Second time around looks quite different though. You will probably let your baby cry a little longer so you can finish your lunch (where will the milk come from if you don’t eat?). Confidence reigns this time around and you know that the biggest thing you need is to be there for them through all the madness. No toy or snack is truly worth it and they will get through their milestones when they are ready.
Sleep deprivation gets ‘better’
New parents find sleep deprivation as unfairness of the highest order. They think something is wrong with their baby or maybe they are just being difficult. It is considered a major fete when they can put on clean underwear and put sugar instead of salt in tea due to exhaustion.
The second time around becomes a little better, not because the baby sleeps through the night but because you’ve made peace with the whole situation. You know that you will look like a zombie for a couple of months and it’ll eventually end. And you know your baby loves you and isn’t trying to make life difficult for you.
Time actually moves
With your first baby you’ll feel like time doesn’t fly. The days are long and drag on endlessly. You wonder whether you’ll ever be able to take a walk beyond your sofa or bathroom. Will sleep ever be a part of your life again? Will the baby ever realize that you need to get back to living and get into a routine? Will you always look hung over? Everything seems like a haze. But your child does grow and you start asking where the time went when you look at your toddler or preschooler.
When you have your second child these things don’t change but you’ve seen that life actually goes on. Whenever you go through a difficult period you remember what things were like before and you just calm yourself down with a simple ‘this too shall pass’.
More confident decisions
Your first baby most probably got a lot of help from Dr Google and several books. There was no manual after they gave you your baby at the hospital and so you probably doubted every decision you made about your child. That is very understandable and expected even.
You are more likely to be confident in your decisions the second time around. People’s opinion doesn’t really move you and you are more likely to stand your ground. You know that your baby will be okay in the long run and it becomes easier to trust your gut.
As you prepare for your second baby relax and know that it will be okay. It will be better than the first time and you will not only survive but thrive.