Let's talk about the REAL realities of adding a 2nd child to the family - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 09-08-2010, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We are getting ready to TTC our 2nd child. I am a SAHM with a DS who is 2. We are planning on having our 2nd child when DS is around 3 yrs old. My husband travels....a lot. I have no family where we live. At first I was really excited to be pregnant again and then have another little one. Last night, however, while I am sitting in my son's room in the middle of the night to try and help him back to sleep (an hour later) I was imagining how would I do this with a baby and a traveling husband? Then I freaked out and I am still freaking out.

I want to know the REAL realities of adding a second child to the mix. I plan on BF this little one for a few years and co-sleeping for a year (similar to what I did with DS). DS is now fully weaned and sleeps in his own room in a toddler bed (but still wakes a few times a night).

I know it will be amazing to have another little baby and I will love them immensely BUT I really want you all to paint the picture of what this transition will really really look like as far as sleeping, grocery shopping, nap times, dinner time, ME time, etc. Where did you struggle the most? Did it ever feel like it got easier? Could you have done it without consistent support around the house (like a husband who is home regularly or family around)? Anything else I am not even aware of?

Give it to me straight. I feel like I just need to know what I am really getting myself into so I don't find myself spiraling when the reality truly hits.

Thanks!!
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#2 of 25 Old 09-08-2010, 11:20 AM
 
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My DH works second shift and travels occasionally, and we just had DD2 in April, and DD1 just turned 4.

Honestly, if this one had come when DD1 was 3, it would have SUCKED. DD1 was an angel at 2, but at 3yo was really very challenging to parent. Also, my pregnancy with #1 was easy but with #2 was the pits: 8 months of m/s, SPD, etc. I couldn't bear to cook, couldn't comfort my DD while I was vomiting, and fell asleep in bed with DD more times than I could count. DH was incredibly understanding and supportive, but there's not much he can do when he's not home!

Honestly, if I put together the rough pregnancy and DD's rough 3yo phase, I honestly don't know how we would have survived it with our relationships healthy and intact.

As it happened, it took us a long time to conceive #2, and that worked out for the better. I was sick and lousy after DD1 got out of her really challenging phase. DD2 was born shortly before DD1 turned 4, and I can't imagine it any other way. She is hugely helpful, and it's nice to go upstairs to change a diaper while DD1 is downstairs coloring and know that odds are good she won't kill herself in that 2-min window.

ETA: naptime, groceries, etc.: that's the easy stuff. Everything takes longer, you sleep less, but babies are portable and things get done if they really have to. Nursing one while shampooing the other is tricky. Having both cry/scream/tantrum without backup with tricky. Trying to entertain #1 and defend/protect #2 is hard. But for me, the most important and most challenging part of it is getting quality time together, where we can nurture our relationships and not fight over bathtime, clean silly putty out of the carpet, and explain AGAIN that the baby's head is not a toy. You can do it, without help, because you have to.

BTW, I don't mean to be a negative Nancy! I know there are lots of MDCers who will be able to tell you that it worked great for them!! But personally, I thank God that we had to TTC for a year to get #2!!

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#3 of 25 Old 09-08-2010, 10:43 PM
 
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BTW, I don't mean to be a negative Nancy! I know there are lots of MDCers who will be able to tell you that it worked great for them!! But personally, I thank God that we had to TTC for a year to get #2!!
This was exactly my experience as well. DD1 just just shy of 4 when DD2 was born, thank goodness. DD2 ended up having unknown health complications, I basically ignored DD1 for a solid 6-9 months and focused my attention of getting DD2 better. It sucked, the transition from 1-2 for me was just as bad as from 0-1.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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#4 of 25 Old 09-08-2010, 11:19 PM
 
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I think 1-2 is the harder of the 2 transitions (rather than 0-1). learning to juggle a toddler-ish along with a newborn is tough and you have to lower your expectations and accept the fact that tv and cookies for breakfast, so you can nurse the baby, may become a reality! LOL

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#5 of 25 Old 09-08-2010, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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okay seriously. i'm scared.
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#6 of 25 Old 09-08-2010, 11:55 PM
 
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For me, I hated the feeling that Ds was no longer my little buddy. We had so much fun together before, had our groove. Then the 'pull away' happens. The second one is always more needy/helpless than your first. I felt SO guilty all the time. I HATED that feeling, big time. The pull in two different directions is HARD.

In love with Dh since 1998. We created Ds (7.1.03), Dd (10.16.06) and Dd (3.16.09).
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#7 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 01:07 AM
 
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Holy cow, I could have written this original post. My DS is 2y9m and our TTC#2 date is approaching. I've just started getting really really cold feet.

I already feel sad about my relationship with DS changing. Not to mention terrified of the logistics.

I try to keep in mind that giving him a sibling is a huge gift. Right?

(scared face)
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#8 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 10:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by pmojzak View Post

I try to keep in mind that giving him a sibling is a huge gift. Right?

(scared face)
Yes my thoughts exactly! Our main reason for having a second child is to give DS a sibling which I am not sure he will be too thrilled about initially. However as time goes on I am hoping they develop a strong relationship and will therefore have each other in old age (this is my plan). But man! One child is enough! One child keeps me plenty busy and I am already struggling with getting adequate "me time" (which I have found to be essential!). I just can't imagine having TWO children needing my attention at once! YIKES! I wish just having an only child felt right to me but it doesn't.

I know in a few years it will be super fun to have two children. But I am worried about balancing a BF on-demand infant and an assertive 3-yr old. I am hoping I can at least get my toddler sleeping well before baby arrives.

Thanks for everyone sharing so far! I do want to hear more stories of the real realities so I am mentally prepared. I don't really like surprises
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#9 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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Going from 1-2 was way harder on me than 0-1. DS was easygoing, social, friendly, good natured, and an "independent" baby who I could put down on the playmat and he'd be happy for an hour at a time even as an infant. I thought that parenthood was a breeze (I mean, he had colic for about 6 weeks, and didn't sleep great, but it was pretty easy for me to handle). Then DD came along - DS was almost 2-1/2 when she was born. She was INTENSE. Very intense. She would not be put down for more than a couple minutes while awake without crying, didn't want anyone to hold her but me for the first 6 months, etc. etc. Basically - as long as I was with her, she was happy as a clam, but if I wasn't there, she just wailed nonstop. It was HARD. DH worked all day, but would come home and do housework at night because I just couldn't get anything done between wearign DD all day so I could do stuff with DS, and working from home at my editing job. Things got better around 6 months, even better at a year, and at 18 months it was WAY better.

Honestly, for me the biggest problem was DD's intense personality, not necessarily managing 2 kids. I knew that getting outof the house was going to take twice as long and have twice as much stuff and be twice as exhausting. That I was all prepared for. And you have to let go of the ideal that nobody is ever upset or waiting for you, becasue it's just logistically not possible. So sometimes DS was sad and waiting, and sometimes DD was. I'm not magical and not a clone, so it just happened. It was very draining to have DD's intense personality, that I barely had anything left for DS for a while, and I felt badly about that a lot, but again, it wasn't something I could change, you can't make an infant need/want you less. We definitely reconnected after she got older and are as close as we ever were. DS is 6-1/2, and DD is 4 and we're quite a troop.

So I guess I'm saying: It was hard, and really sucked sometimes. But, it's what I signed up for in parenthood, so we just muddled through and have come out the other side mostly unscathed

Most importantly, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Now, if you would have asked me that when DD was 6 or 12 months I would ahve said NO WAY. But the amnesia of motherhood is a wonderful thing. When they get older, it gets better.

WOuld I do it if I didn't have a partner to help pick up my slack? Honestly, I would, but I would WAY simplify my life. Like, WAY. Like, very low expectations for everything - really declutter and minimize "stuff" and make a plan for very simple, very easy/quick foods. If there was minimal tidying needs (i.e., not a ton of toys) and simple meal plans (i.e., not a lot of prep or cleanup), then I think it would be OK. I would let the cleaning go longer than normally, and just be OK with things being messier for a while. I could totally be in that kind of mindset and do it. The major thing is, I don't require a lot of "me" time. So, it wouldn't be a big deal to have to be tending to 2 kids all day and night, with not a ton of alone/silent time. If me time is something you really need to have regularly, and you are alone with 2 kids and one of them winds up intense/high needs, then you're going to burn out quickly. Different people have different self-nurturing needs, and I think that's actually one of the primary things people shoudl consider, but usually isn't.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#10 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I was reading the4ofus post, I did it in reverse. DD1 was my first child and she screamed her way through her first year of life, she was one miserable child. I always say that I honestly don't know who cried more, me or her. So I thought after my "trial my fire" that I could totally handle another child, if it turned out to be like DD1, well I've lived through it once. Apparently other plans were made for me because I got DD2 who would of been a sweet, calm, little baby but she had health problems, and once again all hell broke loose.

I definitely let go of my ideals, so what if we ate pizza get again for dinner, if breakfast was a cookie so be it. TV on all day was fine by me. The middle of the night parenting was not bad with DD1 and DD2, DD1 slept through night by then and I was the only one that could handle DD2 and her equipment so I had no choice but to do 100% of her parenting until she was close to 1. Now DD2 and DS are 2.5 years apart, and OMG the night parenting now that they are almost 4 and 16m still sucks with a capital S. They both still wake up, when DH travels it is whatever I have to do to survive the trip which always means one child in each arm all night long while I attempt to sleep a couple hours. When he is here we sleep in separate rooms, he takes DD2 at night, I take DS, and DD bounces from room to room.

It is hard to describe everything that changes but back when I had one child, free time was when I was child less. With 2 children, if I only had one child at home that day or hour, then it was free time. What you used to think was impossible with 1, (it used to be cleaning for me) now has to be done because you have no choice otherwise it will never get done.


I obviously didn't regret having a 2nd because I went on to have a 3rd. It is very crazy and oh so very noisy at my house, but I wouldn't change any of it.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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#11 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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I'll be an 'upper' for you

DS was just barely 7 when DD was born, and I homeschool him and he's very attached to me. So he's kinda like a 3 year old sometimes

Anyway, aside from a *horrible* 7 months of living with DH's parents, which had nothing to do with any of our true temperaments, but more from the fact that the kids were reacting to me and DH's stress levels, things have worked out beautifully.

DD was and can still be very 'high needs' - she woke 8-10 times a night for a few months, until I finally figured out she was ready for more solids and less boob then she stopped waking so much to eat. She also wanted to be carried all the time, which was fine, since I had a Moby for the first few months, than the Ergo, and now a sling.

DS has been very helpful, and aside from an occasional comment, he adores his sister. I laid her down next to him last night while he was watching a movie, and when I came back, he was asleep next to her with his arm wrapped around her

I think you have to ask yourself: what is my DC's temperament like? What is my temperament like? Am I ok with not 'getting things done'? Can I be creative about finding ME time? (I sometimes stay up until 1am to get mine). Anyway, good luck! And just FTR, we're thinking about adding a 3rd soon!

Me,yummy.gif   DS, Peace.gif and DDdust.gif Grateful to the baby I lost for sticking around long enough to teach me what I needed to know so badly  candle.gif  We  love our forest valley home, our goats and chickenschicken3.gif, and wild harvested food-medicine coolshine.gif

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#12 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JonahRoo View Post
Yes my thoughts exactly! Our main reason for having a second child is to give DS a sibling which I am not sure he will be too thrilled about initially. However as time goes on I am hoping they develop a strong relationship and will therefore have each other in old age (this is my plan). But man! One child is enough! One child keeps me plenty busy and I am already struggling with getting adequate "me time" (which I have found to be essential!). I just can't imagine having TWO children needing my attention at once! YIKES! I wish just having an only child felt right to me but it doesn't.

I know in a few years it will be super fun to have two children. But I am worried about balancing a BF on-demand infant and an assertive 3-yr old. I am hoping I can at least get my toddler sleeping well before baby arrives.

Thanks for everyone sharing so far! I do want to hear more stories of the real realities so I am mentally prepared. I don't really like surprises

* Give DS a sibling: I think boys, esp. 'assertive' boys, NEED siblings, to bring out their nurturing side. I saw this in my own DS.

* Me time: I've actually discovered that I need less and less of this as time goes on. I used to think I needed huge amounts (like an entire afternoon at the beach by myself). Well, I haven't had that in nearly 18 months now, and it's been okay. I've had to really make adjustments, and learn how to get into that peaceful place at a moment's notice, because that might be all I get! But, when DD started walking, all of a sudden I started getting these 20-30 minute chunks of time. And now I can leave her with DH (I could before too, but I wouldn't, because when we were living with his parents, his Mom would take over and he wouldn't get any time with just him and the kids, ever). So I get a few hours a week to myself. Since your DH is gone a lot, maybe you could find another Mom to trade ME time babysitting with?

* Balancing a newborn and 3 year old: yeah, you just do it. Whatever works is what works.

* Surprises: I too like to be prepared. I like to know what's coming. But you know what? Kids don't work like that. I know you know that, but I thought I'd say it anyway.

I can't imagine not having our DD. She completes our family in a way I couldn't have seen before she came along. And I know any other kids we may have will do the same

Me,yummy.gif   DS, Peace.gif and DDdust.gif Grateful to the baby I lost for sticking around long enough to teach me what I needed to know so badly  candle.gif  We  love our forest valley home, our goats and chickenschicken3.gif, and wild harvested food-medicine coolshine.gif

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#13 of 25 Old 09-09-2010, 09:21 PM
 
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My husband goes to work 4am back 7pm or later. I found this to be hard with 1 or 2.

just my 2 cents
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#14 of 25 Old 09-10-2010, 11:33 PM
 
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I really think it depends on the personalities of the kids. My ds and dd are 26 months apart. My ds was a very difficult baby - I couldn't put him down at all he never slept more than a 4 hour stretch at night until he was 18 months old and didn't sttn until he was 3 years old. He never napped more than 30 minutes. He nursed constantly... he was just very challenging. But, as a toddler and preschooler, he was easy. My dd was a very easy baby. She slept well, could be put down and entertain herself, she nursed less often and was faster. So for me, it was an easy transition from 1 to 2. I didn't notice less me time (cause I didn't have any me time with my ds anyway!) and in fact, feel like I have more me time now. The kids play together now (they are 2 and 4) so they can entertain each other rather than me being the sole source of entertainment for my ds like I was (especially since he is very high needs and always needs someone playing with him). I was also worried about sleep since my ds was such a difficult sleeper. That was hard sometimes but once I instituted the family nap, things were great! And at night, my dd would often fall asleep first so then I could attend to my older ds.

It would have been very difficult if they were flip flopped, though. My dd is a handful now at 2 so if I had to chase her around and keep her from drawing on walls, climbing up book cases, and washing her whole body when she washes her hands after the potty, all while trying to nurse my ds who was attached to me for a full hour every hour... I would have gone crazy!

But, even if that situation had happened, in the grand scheme of things, 2 rough years is nothing compared to a lifetime of having those kids in your life and in each other lives. It'll all work out!
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#15 of 25 Old 09-10-2010, 11:57 PM
 
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Going from 1 to 2 was really a breeze for me. They were 29 months apart. DS1 was very high needs as an infant and still a pretty high needs/high energy toddler. However, I COMPLETELY lucked out with a very, very mellow dd - slept through the night at 5 weeks, only nursed every 4 hours or so during the day - she even only pooped once a day or less after the first week or two! Oh, and she didn't need anything buy being layed down (awake!!!!) to fall asleep! Obviously, you can't count on getting a baby like that (and going from 2 to 3 was harder, as my ds2 had a lot more trouble sleeping), but from 1 to 2 was no where near as hard as from 0 to 1. One thing that helped was that, other than nursing needs of ds1, dh took over any night time parenting he needed so I could sleep with the baby. Dh also took a whole month off when dd was born, vs the 2 weeks he took off with ds1 and the 1 week he managed with ds2 (he had a brand new job an no vaca time, so it was the best we could do) - and that was really essential for helping me get into a two kid routine. I had a fairly easy birth, and we got out of the house really fast with dd - in that month dh was home, we went to the zoo more than once, went out to dinner several times, ran around malls, parked ourselves at playgrounds, took trips to museums, etc. For some people, that sounds like pure hell starting only a couple of days after birth, but it was really helpful for high energy ds1 to get out and run around and burn off some of the energy so that he wasn't climbing the apartment walls.
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#16 of 25 Old 09-14-2010, 08:42 PM
 
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Good question. We're gonna be in the same boat soon. I want to ttc in a year for work/school/living situation reasons which I'm really eager and impatient about but it is probably for the best, because my 3 yr old is very needy.

Good luck with your transition!!

Jenna - student RN and mommy to a cutie pie 3 yr old.
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#17 of 25 Old 09-20-2010, 11:57 AM
 
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I had a needy almost-three-year-old when my second was born. My husband was also working constantly at the time and was not available to offer much help or support. (Also no family nearby.) Thank goodness the second was easy-going; she was ignored a lot. On the other hand, I nursed her (in tandem with the older sister for over a year) into toddlerhood and also developed a very special, close relationship with her, so looking back on it I guess we did better than I felt at the time. The two of them are now really close and I'm quite sure DD1 is a better person for having had to welcome a sibling into her life.

That said, it certainly would have been easier when she was 4 instead of 3. So if I could go back in time and advise my former self I might tell her to wait a few more months before TTC.

Now we have another baby and both older sisters are wonderful with her. The transition was really easy this time and it's really helped soothe all my sad/conflicted feelings about the transition from 1 to 2.

Edited to add: I get my "me" time with the baby these days. I put her in a wrap or a backpack and take a hike, go grocery shopping, or even just weed the garden or do laundry. She LOVES all that time with me and hardly ever fusses; I actually feel relaxed and calm, plus I figure carrying her everywhere is just another form of exercise for me. That's another bit of advice I'd give my former self: put the baby in a wrap and keep her there until she asks to be put down! (I did use a sling with DD2, but not nearly enough.)

DD1 (Oct 99), DD2 (Sep 02), DD3 (Oct 09)
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#18 of 25 Old 09-21-2010, 07:38 PM
 
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i hated the being pulled in two directions as well. then when both were crying. ugh, i just wanted to cry too!

mama to one '07 and one '09
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#19 of 25 Old 09-21-2010, 09:04 PM
 
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OP, I think you are right to freak out. Adding a second child without another adult around regularly is not going to be easy. My husband never traveled, but still, the only thing that made us willing to contemplate it was that my parents moved to town.

Even then, it was really hard. I needed my dh to take the 3yo as soon as he came home from work. I needed him to take him away for a few hours on the weekends. I wanted to enjoy that new baby, and I just couldn't with an angry, tantruming older kid around. The same kid who used to be my little buddy and was now almost my nemesis. Who did NOT appreciate having a sibling, at all.

It was hard for a long time. We became two little units, me and the baby, dh and ds1. It was the only way to do anything. Where I struggled most was wanting/needing to enjoy and spend time with my new baby and just not being able to because I had to meet the demands of my 3yo. To be honest, that baby was more like an extra appendage I carried around than a precious, unique individual whose presence I was savoring.

It started to get better once I put my 3yo in preschool. He loved it; I had time alone with the baby. They are 7 and 10 now. Things are amazingly better. But it was a long slog. My advice: start lining up preschools.

And think carefully about whether this is something you really want. We love ds2 to pieces. But it would have been a lot easier, emotionally and logistically, if we'd stuck with one. A sibling is nice, and we didn't want ds to have the burden of caring for us alone in old age. But we have no doubt he'd be happy as a clam as an only child.
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#20 of 25 Old 09-22-2010, 01:13 AM
 
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My son was almost 3 when ds2 was born. It was an easy transition for us but I did have the help of my mother for the first few months, and my DH works from home, which is nice but has its own limitations (like not knowing when to cut off for the day)

What I wanted to emphasize was that preschool made all the difference in my experience. DS really thrived under the attention of his teachers and it made him feel like a big boy to be able to go to school. That first year was pretty great. I'm finding it much harder now with an almost 1.5 year old and a 4 year old. They fight all the time, but they also love on each other a lot too. But I won't gloss it over for you. There are some nights when they are both in bed that I stay up as late as I can and DREAD waking up in the morning to do it all over. I am an only child and I love to have a clean house and time to myself. Its rare that that gets accomplished.

mama to L (4) and G (1.5)
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#21 of 25 Old 09-22-2010, 01:43 AM
 
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DD is 2y2m and we are best buddies. Especially becasue DH travels a lot. I don't want anything to pull me away from her yet. Also, she is a dream 2YO so far, but I worry what the 3s would bring. I wont even go into my terrible MS and DD being one very high needs infant.

We have a TTC#2 date of July 2012. DD would be 4y11m when #2 would be born according to this plan. But, I am wondering about pushing that back a whole year. #2 should be our last and I am young. A lot depends on how receptive DD is to school. Having her in a full day setting would allow for uninterrupted bonding with #2.
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#22 of 25 Old 09-22-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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wowzers. what a thread. i appreciate all the mom's being perfectly honest about how hard it is and will be. there's nothing worse than being told everything will be fine and don't share you struggles. i love that we can support each other as moms and women who have been there and done that. i must say, though, DH and i are talking about when to have more and it's overwhemling to think about adding another kid on, but i am also so so so excited. i know DD will be a great oldest sibling, she already loved her bebes and can be helpful. it will be wonderful to know i can come to my MDC friends and complain about the hard times!

K, wifey to M, PROUD SAH-mama to Catherine Grace
Had a dreamy VBAC waterbirth.jpg to handsome John Gabriel
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#23 of 25 Old 09-22-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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thanks to the moms who shared their experiences. i have a 19 mo old and we are ttc #2 and this is very helpful to read. and makes me feel more at peace with the fact that i'm not pg yet. i am indeed enjoying this me time on the computer right now...
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#24 of 25 Old 09-23-2010, 09:22 PM
 
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my kids are 2y2m apart and while it is hard and kind of like having two babies in the beginning, she was awesome with the baby. no jealousy, no hitting, it wasn't until he started to walk and hit her that it got trickier to keep everyone safe. (my dd was a dream 2yo and is just now starting to get difficult at age 3.5, ds was an easy baby, and is a difficult toddler a lot of the time-he is very impulsive ) i think i had it easy, but at the same time i feel like i have to do everything perfect so i make it hard on myself (i have recently been doing better with this though, if everyone doesn't have clean clothes, meh! if the kitchen isn't spotless, whatever!)

mama to one '07 and one '09
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#25 of 25 Old 10-02-2010, 04:53 PM
 
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this thread is EXACTLY what i was looking for! DS is 2y8m and i'm trying to figure out how this whole 2nd child business works. i'd like for him to have a sibling, but i'm not super anxious to transition away from our very special relationship just yet. DS was a pretty tough baby; very fussy, terrible sleeper, constantly needed to be held, still doesn't do much independent play and wants to nurse all the time. my intuition tells me that 4 years between children is logical from a cultural/historical perspective, and based on some of the feedback i've read, it sounds like the 3's could have some more interesting challenges in store for me.

thanks for raising the question, OP, and please do keep the input coming, all you experienced mamas out there!

Humbly parenting Abraham (1/08), learning to be gentle and creative.  At least I got a good man to hold my hand.  Married to Ben (8/06). 

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