Friday, November 7, 2014

Two is better than one

Now that Julia is 4 weeks old (WHERE did that time go?!), I feel comfortable saying assertively that my transition from 1 to 2 children was significantly easier than my transition from 0 to 1.  Having both a newborn and a toddler is, of course, more logistically challenging than just a newborn, but there are so many things about adjusting to life with a second child that were easier than the deer-in-the-headlights new parent gig.  Granted, the temperaments of my girls (and myself) have played into this, so it might not be true in all cases, but I do want to put it out there for the first-time moms who find themselves (as I did, repeatedly) looking at their first born and wondering HOW anyone could EVER manage to keep an older child happy (or even just alive) while simultaneously caring for a newborn: it is possible.  And not only possible, not nearly as horrible as your panicked imagination thinks.

First, there's the practical skills: holding, dressing, and bathing a newborn without a constant litany of "am I going to break her?!"  Nursing no longer takes 42 hands, and you can often nurse AND do something else at the same time (even if this results in an embarrassing number of crumbs and spills of mom's food falling on the baby).  Baby apparati can be operated sans manual, and swaddles can be wrapped in the dark.  Drawers are stocked with the things that actually work (and not the adorable but impossible-to-button-while-sleep-deprived outfits), including the things it took 3 weeks with the firstborn to realize were necessary.

Of course there's the (little bit of) wisdom from experience and the sense that the craziness won't last forever.  The comfort of having survived postpartum before, and the knowledge that everyone will eventually stop (or at least calm it) with the leaking/spraying/spitting body fluids.  A slumbering toddler down the hall when the baby is crying AGAIN shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The same toddler, when she wakes and runs and talks and feeds herself, reminds you that two short years ago she was the baby, and makes you want to savor the newborn snuggles even more.

Even in a toddler, there's a buddy and a helper.  Someone to get the wipes when you've already started to change the baby and realize that the new box is across the room.  Someone to chat with, someone to provide a bit of comic relief and entertainment during what might otherwise have been 10 long and lonely hours while dad is at work.

And, of course, the toddler still needs to eat and still likes to play outside, so an inner and previously unknown strength can be summoned to get oneself up off the couch from the perpetual nursing post, and eat meals with some regularity and occasionally change out of pajamas (all unheard of in the first go-round).

The neediness of both age-groups, toddler and newborn, is an anecdote to the weariness that comes from caring for the other.  Snuggling and rocking the wee one is a welcome rest after chasing a toddler, and the hours and hours of nursing are less monotonous when simultaneously singing nursery rhymes and reading stories (at least until the day the toddler requests "Corduroy Goes to the Doctor" 18 times in a row).

The I-think-my-heart-might explode-from-love feelings from round 1 are nothing compared to watching your little one award her third-ever smile at big sister's antics, or at hearing big sister say "oh, I love you so so much, Doolia!"

And so to my frazzled self two years ago who thought our dreams of a large(ish) family were a huge mistake (and any other first-time moms feeling that they could never handle a second), two is better than one.


  1. I totally agree. This transition has been SO much easier than it was the first time :-)