The Truth about Baby No. 2

It was 10 months ago when my life turned upside down and it was the arrival of our second bundle of joy that did it. The sleepless nights returned and along came the long days that were filled with mayhem from the moment my eyes opened to the moment they closed. There was the constant juggling as I tried to care and look after my then 2 year old and my newborn simultaneously combined with a roller coaster of emotions I had to contend with too. Adjusting to life with two children has been a bigger shock for me than I remembered adjusting to a new life with just the one.

‘They say it’s easier second time around’

Perhaps this has something to do with the age gap between my two children, of which there is two and a half years or perhaps it’s because people assume you know what you are doing and so don’t offer as much help? Whoever said it was easier second time around?!

Whilst pregnant with my second child, I remember my husband asking me (on more than once occasion I might add) how I was going to cope looking after two children? And to be honest, I never actually gave it too much thought as I didn’t expect it to be too much of a big change. All I’d really been thinking about was preparing Harry for the arrival of his brother or sister and the affects that it would have on him, not least me. I never actually stopped and thought about the logistics of looking after two children, their different routines and needs, how I was actually going to get out of the house with two and how I was going to cope!  All my focus was on Harry and how he was going to deal with the change and in the end he dealt with it amazingly, I on the other hand.. not as well.

There are several reasons why I’ve found baby no. 2 more challenging so I thought I would share some of the truths and troubles that I have faced both in the early days and currently as a mum of two:

Sleep Deprivation – The alarm clock has already been made redundant with the first born but add to this being woken up several times in the night again with either child followed by caring for them all day without rest = sleep deprivation at its best! Broken sleep is still as painful as it was the first time around but now say goodbye to lie-ins with the newborn and nap time as sleeping when the baby does is near impossible to do with a toddler in tow. Getting them both to nap at the same time during the day can happen occasionally but you soon begin to realise that this is your only window of opportunity to get something done or put your feet up and have a brew.

Guilt – I was wracked with guilt as soon as my second son, Jack, was born as it was so hard getting use to being pulled in two directions and not being able to attend to either child when they needed me. I constantly wondered how I was going to manage and how I was going to split my time equally between the boys. I quickly realised that Harry was no longer a baby, he looked fully grown in comparison (how did I not see this before?!) and for some reason this added to my feelings of guilt. As we already know newborns are pretty demanding and sometimes I missed the days when it was just the two of us, the days when my eldest had my undivided attention and he didn’t have to wait for what felt like hours on end for me to do something for him. No longer am I his best friend, I have been replaced with CBeebies/Nickelodeon and now Daddy! I also felt guilt about not spending the same amount of quality time with Jack that I had been able to do with Harry. Some days I worried that I hadn’t even spoken directly to Jack, he was present only to my babble when talking shouting at Harry!

You no longer have the patience of a saint – I have been told on many occasions that I am a very patient person however those closest to me especially my husband is sure to disagree and if my 3 year old knew the meaning he would probably disagree too. The combination of looking after two young children, doing the daily chores in the house and a lively springer spaniel can some days be enough to push me over the edge!

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Keeping calm – I sometimes surprise myself at how much I scream and shout at the boys (and the poor dog), it’s not like they actually understand! All I’m doing is adding fuel to the fire. My husband often reminds me that Harry is still young and he doesn’t understand why I’m telling him not to do something but in the heat of the moment this simple fact is quite simply forgotten! I have noticed a couple of triggers recently and so have been trying to work on keeping calm. The main one is when we have been in the house all day combined with Harry’s selective hearing and his recent silly back chat. We seemed to have skipped the terribles twos and entered into the tenacious threes but that is a whole other post.

More bad days – We all have them, they are more common the more children you have I imagine and I know that since having number 2 I have had more than my fair share. It can be a few small things that happen to turn your day upside down or one of those days (probably due to the night before) that just goes from bad to worse, whatever the reason, some days bedtime can not come quicker enough!

Getting out & about – It can be bloody hard work going out outnumbered. It takes twice as long to leave the house and it can be quite stressful getting everyone and everything ready but I quickly realised it is worth the hassle as this is the only thing that keeps us all sane and will ensure that we don’t have one of the above. A walk to the park, meeting up with friends and their children, walking the dog and even a trip to the shops are necessary daily occurrences for us. Have a read at my earlier post about the logistics of getting from A to B to find out how best to do it.

The housework – the laundry doubles, the house is a constant bomb site, the pots quickly stack up and there is always some sick or dirty nappy to attend to. Add all these daily chores to looking after two children and it’s multitasking at it’s peak. It is impossible to have a clean pristine house all the time whilst raising two little ones without help and it drives me potty having to rush around constantly trying to get everything done.

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Help! I need somebody – Having two children does mean that you do need more help. Offers of babysitting one or both children have never been as welcome.

They are not babies for long – Baby number 2 will hit milestones a lot quicker and before long you are going to be refereeing a game of building blocks. Jack learnt to crawl just before he reached 6 months and he has been after Harry’s toys ever since. He is more robust, having had to learn how to handle being pushed around occasionally and I am now fearful of leaving them alone for a minute! The second child has a constant stream of entertainment in watching their older sibling and it’s not long before they soon begin to start practicing everything they have been witnessing over recent weeks.

No time for you – So apart from the rare times that both your children nap at the same time which is usually in the car on the way somewhere I might add, there is very little time to yourself (I do love those car journeys though!) Putting others first is a great expression when defining motherhood. And no longer will you shower, get ready, eat, go to the toilet or even sleep in peace and without an audience. 

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I have struggled with the demands of caring for two little ones, constantly being pulled in two directions 24/7, day in day out is without doubt the most difficult challenge I have dealt with. I am in constant awe of other mums (and dads) who have two or more small children in tow and often wonder how they cope! But despite all the hardship, the exhaustion and the squabbles still to come, having a second child really does feel like the family is more complete. Seeing Harry and Jack start to interact and communicate with each other is wonderful to watch and when they do share moments of tenderness it is utterly heart warming. Having a sibling means that their personalities will help shape their identities and hopefully they will become lifelong playmates.

As for my sanity, I am hoping this will return at some point 🙂

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10 things I’ve done differently second time around

I recently read a post from another mummy blogger about your first child effectively being the guinea pig. It got me thinking about what things I’ve done differently with my two boys and I was surprised to learn there were quite a few! So I have decided to list them. It seems I’ve learnt a lot more second time around! For the sake of clarity I am going to refer to the boys as big bee and little bee.

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1. Shorter stay in hospital

With big bee I stayed in hospital just under 48 hours, I was in no real rush to leave and whilst there I got the hang of breastfeeding with the help of the midwives. However second time around, I was in hospital less than 24 hours and couldn’t have got out of there any quicker! I left the hospital too soon, assuming that I would be able to breastfeed again was a big mistake. I realise now I was lucky with big bee but things were not as easy with little bee, being tongue-tied he struggled latching on and my technique was all wrong. Without the help of the midwives in those first couple of days, it resulted in my breastfeeding days being cut short due to a poor latch and sore nipples. I truly learnt the meaning of the term toe-curling and gave up within two weeks 😦

2. Bottle fed

I managed 4 months breastfeeding with big bee but only 2 weeks with little bee. Even though big bee took a bottle at 4 months, on reflection given the chance I would not hesitate in breastfeeding again. At the time I thought breastfeeding was hard work and sometimes the on demand feeding was…well…pretty demanding! By 4 months I was ready to make the switch however in hindsight compared to bottle feeding it’s a no brainer. Apart from the obvious health benefits, breastfeeding provides instant, ready made feeds, I could get myself nice and comfy with big bee and I still had a free hand to drink my cup of tea, use my phone, grab the remote etc. I needed two hands for bottle feeding, and sterilizing/making up the bottles was just another chore I could have done without. Plus with breastfeeding, I was able to feed and stay in bed which beats having to go downstairs in the middle of the night to fetch a bottle!

3. Tummy time at night time..

..ok, so this is a controversial one. Big bee slept as advised on his back and woke often throughout the day and night unless of course when he was held then he would sleep for longer. Obviously with just big bee this was not too much of a big deal but by the time little bee came along I needed him to sleep anywhere as long as it was not in my arms! Little bee was a wriggler from the start and constantly woke himself up by fidgeting around and hitting himself in his face. This led me to change his sleep position, he napped on his tummy during the day, at first, when I could still keep an eye on him but once he had good head control, he slept on his tummy at night too. This made a huge difference because I am sure sleeping on his front helped him to self soothe himself back to sleep.

4. Baby-led Weaning

I will post another blog on this in more detail in the future but basically big bee was spoon fed and traditionally weaned from 5 months old and is now an incredibly fussy eater. Whereby little bee has been baby-led weaned from 6 months old and even though he is only 10 months old now, he is a more confident eater and is still so far enjoying lots of different foods. Plus the BLW approach has been an amazing experience and so much more enjoyable. It has also been easier preparing meals as little bee just eats pretty much the same as what we are eating.

5. Left little bee with Grandma a lot sooner than big bee

Ok, maybe this had something to do with breastfeeding big bee for longer but I left little bee with my Mum a lot sooner than big bee. I think little bee spent his first night at Grandma’s at just 4 weeks old whereby big bee was nearly 1! Ha, this makes me smile looking back. We are always happy to have the opportunity of a night off now!

6. More maternity leave

I decided to have more leave this time around. Rather than rushing back to work I wanted to enjoy as much time off as possible with my two boys as I am not sure whether this will be my last maternity leave… I’ve taken the full 12 months leave plus a little bit extra due to holiday allowance and even though it’s been hard work, I’ve enjoyed every minute being at home 🙂

7. Went on holiday a lot sooner

Our holiday was already booked before little bee made his appearance into the world. He was just 8 weeks old by the time he was clocking up some air miles however big bee was 18 months old before he went on his first flight. Not that this has made any difference to the boys, it’s more about learning to be more laid back and relaxed with your second child and carrying on as normal. Babies are more transient than you think!

8. Not joined in as many playgroups

Ok, so this one makes me a little sad. I haven’t been able to join in with as many playgroups this time around as I did with big bee. Having two children at home, even though big bee does attend nursery a couple of days a week, not only makes getting out of the house for morning playgroups a nightmare, the difference in ages of my two boys has prevented me from joining in some of the local playgroups. Therefore I have not met any new mums this time around 😦 On a optimistic note, however, I still have 3 months of maternity leave left so maybe there’s still time…

9. Kept to a routine

Because we have stayed at home more since little bee has arrived, I have been able to get little bee into a good routine. He naps brilliantly during the day and is easy to go down most days which leaves me with time to get things done in the house and attend to big bee whilst little bee sleeps. This has been a God send with two children, however I do miss the spontaneity of our days when it was just big bee and me but at the same time I do realise that a routine is essential when you are juggling looking after two children.

10. Less Googling

When big bee was a baby, I was constantly on my phone googling baby related questions. When I wasn’t googling, I would be reading a book or talking to people to find out the answers however with little bee I have not had the time to google as much. I have just had to think logically about the best option and pretty much get on with it. I would say that perhaps I’ve used more intuition and perhaps this is what you learn to do as you have more children?

Looking back, even though I have done things differently with the boys, I feel confident that I did the best I could have done at the time and reflecting in this way has made me feel more confident about the choices I have made, albeit I may not have been thinking this at the time! 
 

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