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Adding the Second Child

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When I had my first baby, my son, he became the center of my life.  It really changed everything for me.  I stopped working for pay outside my home.  I was suddenly a different person- a mother.
 
My sleep patterns changed (or were eliminated), my body was totally different (like- fluffier), my marriage changed, my husband was suddenly a different beast, everything was different! 
 
And even though the first few weeks made me weep like a crazy person with uncontrolled and unfamiliar hormonal fluctuations, I just loved him so much.  I mean, love beyond what I could imagine.  And it all seemed so surreal.  Was this really my child?  Oh my gosh.  Could this be REAL?
 
I don't know how to explain it all, but it was very different and sometimes difficult for me.
 
Then he got older.  I started to notice women around me who were a little farther ahead of me in the game of motherhood.  They already had their second child.  I will be honest.  Some of them seemed kind of...crazy.  Or overwhelmed.
 
Frankly- I didn't want to be crazier or more overwhelmed.  I was really happy with just my one perfect baby.
 
And then, when he was about two, I got pregnant again.  I don't remember trying to get pregnant, it just happened and it was something of a shock.
 
Truth be told, I spent almost the entire pregnancy horrified.
 
I found out I was having a girl.  Horror again!  Girls are mean to their mothers!  She would hate me!!!!  This fear was combined with other irrational fears about suddenly finding our car in a river in Texas and my kids being stolen at Disneyland.  (I am actually normally a person who just doesn't worry.  Except for when I am pregnant.  Then all of a sudden, I am a raving lunatic with strange fears popping up out of nowhere.)
 
So, here I am, pregnant and scared.
 
What was I afraid of?  I was worried about if I could actually love another little baby as much as I loved the one I already had.  He had become such a focus of my existence that I couldn't imagine another focus.
 
I was worried too about being overwhelmed.  I didn't want to be miserable, in over my head, freaking out, and have insane kids to boot.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle what my life would become.
 
At the end of my pregnancy I finally made peace with my worries.  This was the END of my pregnancy.  In fact, I was already overdue.
 
I remember finally just sitting down for a quiet moment, and talking to this new baby.   (I am not the "talk to your baby" type of mama.  The idea is fine in theory, but I am just not that way.  So this was kind of a big deal for me.)  I just talked to this little baby in my belly and told her that I loved her.  I told her I was ready for her to come.  And I prayed and choose a name for her from the Bible.
 
Finally I was at peace with my coming change.  I had accepted, at the eleventh hour, the idea of baby number two.
 
You know what happened?  I had another baby.
 
And it was wonderful.
 
Really, it was nothing like what I had expected.
 
The birth was totally different (it was like 1/3 of the length of time).  Breastfeeding came easily, which totally shocked me.  I saw this little girl that I had been so worried about, and I just LOVED her instantly.  She was my best girlfriend!  How could she ever dislike me?!  Shopping trips!  Girl time!  (She is now five, I hope I feel the same when she is 16 and I hope she adores me then too.) 
 
Once she was with us, I couldn't imagine life without her.  In fact, I wondered why I had waited that long to have another baby.
 
There were difficulties of course, with adding another baby.  But they were not insurmountable.  I loved seeing my babies together.  I loved that they had each other.  I loved that they loved each other.
 
Obviously, I had two more babies after that, so I just kept on going without looking back.
 
I guess what I am saying to people who wonder if they should have another baby is- I don't know if YOU should.  But I am glad that I did.
 
Do I have my hands full?  Yes, of course.  But I did with one child.  Does it change things?  Of course, but life is about change.
 
There are difficult things about having one child and difficult things about having one or two or more.
 
There are also joys in having one child, and there are joys when you have more.
 
Adding a baby doesn't necessarily make life harder, it just makes it different.  But new baby different is kind of awesome.  I heard somebody say once that having a new baby in a home brings a special spirit that can heal things.  Now, I hope people NEVER have children to "fix" their lives or their marriages. That is a stupid and selfish game to play with a life.
 
But there is truth in that statement.  Children do bring a healing and teaching spirit to a home.  They teach you.  They push you.  They love you.  They make you better than you could have been without them.  Our children help us become what we are capable of becoming. 
 
I am grateful for all of my babies, and I am grateful that the universe allowed me to have these people be part of my life.  They make my life better and I hope that I never let them down.
 
Love isn't something that you can run out of or grow tired of.  The more you give it, the more it grows.  The more you need, the more you have.  And the more you show to your children, the more you get back.  This is what life is all about.
 
I am so grateful for my second baby.  She is just as first in my heart as all my others. 
 
And mamas- good luck on your journeys.  I know it is hard and I know it is scary.  But we can do this.  We were meant to do this.  We just have to trust, to try, and to love and sacrifice what is needed to be the mothers our children deserve.
 
This article first appeared on the Mama Birth blog in February of 2012.  
 
 

 

Sarah Clark is a mother of one boy and three girls, a natural birth instructor, and serves on the management team for Birth Boot Camp, a company specializing in online and in person childbirth education.  She does an excessive amount of laundry. 
 

Comments (6)

Thank you for this post! My daughter is 14 months old and I have been terrified to have another child, continuously agonizing about when I should get pregnant with the next or whether I should at all. It is reassuring to hear your perspective!
"Children do bring a healing and teaching spirit to a home. They teach you. They push you. They love you. They make you better than you could have been without them. Our children help us become what we are capable of becoming."
I loved this statement. Last night my husband wanted to share with me an (expensive) item he had purchased. I was so frustrated and angry at him. I wanted him to wait until we sold our house to make the purchase. He walked away so sad and guilty. My seven year old daughter turned to me after he had gone upstairs and said to me, "Mom, you remember how you told me that sometimes people really want a chance to share what they are proud of? And sometimes we need to just be excited for them, instead of making them feel badly?" Wow. I think this probably came from me to her in terms of rejoicing in her younger siblings abilities instead of feeling the need to show how she is better/faster/etc. But the fact that she internalized it, saw me doing it to hubby, and was able to articulate it in a timely and meaningful way was astonishing. I thanked her and went upstairs and apologized to my husband and asked him to teach me how to use his new toy...
I have three. Fourth on the way. They are amazing, and I'm glad we're all here...
Oh my goodness, Sarah, I needed to hear these EXACT words. My son is 19 months old now, and I swear all my friends who had children around same time as me last time are either pregnant again or have a second child already. I grew up in a big family - my husband and I WANT a few children (5? 4? 3? haha the number keeps getting smaller) but, but, but...I am struggling with having a toddler. I feel incredibly overwhelmed. More so than when my son was newborn! The thought of getting pregnant makes me cry. I don't have my body "back" yet! I don't get enough sleep yet! I'm not exercising...ever! I am barely making it through each day. How could I possibly have two children!?!? I feel like I AM a good loving mother to my son, but for some reason this voice in my head tells me that if I had another baby I would turn into an awful, incompetent, crazy, terrible, unloving, non-coping mother. yeesh! the anxiety! I have had SO MANY friends tell me something along the lines of "just do it and you won't regret it, yes it's hard but you manage...you find a new normal blah blah blah". But reading your words has really helped me hear those reasurances in a different light. I guess what i'm trying to say is, I believe you. I believe it will be ok. Great even!
Thanks :)
Thanks for writing this, and to the lovely women who commented. My son is almost three and I still feel the way tanyato does. But this article it nice to read and has a bright perspective.
I may agree with you when my little ones are older, but... for me, going from 1 child to 2 has been really difficult. Yes, there's no doubt my love expanded enough to include them both. You're right that the more love you need, the more you have. If only you had more time when you need it too... or more energy... or more money... or more helping hands... or more focus... or more space in the house... or more patience... or more arms to hold little ones. Those things unfortunately don't necessarily grow when you need it. You may love both your children just as much... but you might not be left with the time or energy to show it. It's true that going from 1 to 2 isn't double the work... but it's not less. I think it's actually triple the work when they're little.. by the time you take care of #1's needs and then #2's needs and then don't forget there are the interactions between the two that you'll have to deal with too. Try doing that after being up all night with baby teething. Or when then older one is jealous and takes it out on the little one. Or when you have the baby blues. Talk about a kick in the pants. Before #2 was born I loved to read that book On Mother's Lap to my daughter... after #2 was born I felt like it's a big lie, and she and I were duped... there's not always room on mother's lap. Sometimes maybe, but not always... probably not even most of the time. My baby is now almost a year old, and like I said, I may feel like you down the road. But right now, I wish someone had told me how hard the transition is from 1 to 2... rather than just telling me that "your love grows" and "the second one is always easier". Maybe I'm the exception, but FOR ME, adding the second child has been really hard. And I wish someone had warned me how hard it might be so I could have considered that when planning my family and could have been better prepared.
You are such great mom. My son is almost eight months, I have spent my all the time with him since he was born. I can not image my life without him. I love him so much. At first month, breastfeeding came difficultly. The breastfeeding milk was not enough, I had to feed him with formula milk. I was blue for that. I thought I was not good mom.
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