Have kids, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. And when you have your second baby, this rings truer than ever. As you learn to master the art of the angry whisper (it’s totally a thing) and wonder if your sanity will ever return, remember, this too shall pass.
My experience with having my second baby was much like I have described below. My labour was shorter, she came out quicker and with less drugs, we were off to a good start. But then we came home from the hospital and that’s where things really got interesting…
Baby 1: Antibac hand wash was your best friend so it is no wonder that your first born managed to escape their first six months of life unscathed from the grips of even the mildest of colds. The Ebola level quarantine controls in place probably helped.
Baby 2: At just four-weeks-old, you end up in hospital for three nights after baby contracted viral meningitis from her big sister. True story. A dramatic one but a true one. Or the cold they picked up at eight weeks old. There really is no protecting that second born when their older sibling is germ filled and more than willing to share.
Baby 1: The visitors flowed from day one at the hospital. They were even waiting for you in your hospital room before you had even returned from the labour ward. Your house was filled with balloons, flowers, big, cuddly teddy bears and friends and family bearing gifts. You feel special and loved, if not a little tired from all the attention. When will the flow of visitors stop?
Baby 2: When you have your second baby, that’s when! You have proved to the world that you are able to care for a tiny human and so baby number two isn’t that big a deal apparently. They are just a mini version of their sibling. Been there, done that. You still have the die hard visitors (hello Grandma) but mostly your experience is much quieter than the last time. Oh, except you now have a toddler in the house filling all that quiet space. Come to think of it, maybe that is why the visitors stay away?!
Baby 1: Personal space is a luxury your first born was able to enjoy. Other than the odd well meaning relative who would get right up in their face to elaborately detail whose features they have inherited, on the whole, baby one had personal space in spades.
Baby 2: But the poor second child will grow up with a distorted reality of what personal space actually is, or isn’t… For someone who was able to enjoy so much of it in their formative years, your first born clearly didn’t develop a respect for the personal space of other people (hello sitting on my lap while peeing). Baby two will have their head patted, their feet pulled, hands held and cheeks rubbed. And that is just while they are sleeping.
Baby 1: Tummy time was your favourite time of the day. Ten minutes of watching your little baby working to build strength in their neck and that rewarding smile when they looked up to see your face. You would lie with them on the floor, read to them, sing songs and demonstrate toys they were still too young to play with.
Baby 2: It is only when your toddler says “mummy, I want to do tummy time with the baby” that you realise you can’t remember the last time you actually did tummy time with the baby. Play time on the floor is more of a solo affair for the second child, unless their sibling decides to join them (see above: goodbye personal space). They listen to the stories you are reading to your toddler and will be lucky to get their hands on any toys when the time comes because “those are MY toys, mummy!!!”
Baby 1: Oh the peace and quiet of a sleeping baby. The joy of a still house while you feed your baby, able to hear every gulp and gurgle. Sleep while the baby sleeps is your mantra and you actually follow it.
Baby 2: The only time you can sleep when the baby sleeps is when the toddler is also sleeping and that only ever happens while you are driving them in the car. You are also now the master of the angry whisper. It goes a little something like this…
Me: “You just play with your 6,000 toys while I get the baby to sleep.”
Toddler: “Ok, mummy.”
30 seconds later…
Toddler: “Mummy, put the baby down, I want to play with you!”
Me: *whispering* “I’ll just get the baby to sleep and be with you in a minute. You go and wait for me outside.”
Toddler: *loudly whispering* “But mummy, I want to play with YOU.”
Me: *angry whispering* “Get out of the room now or all the fun will be cancelled when your sister wakes up.”
Baby 1: You have absolutely no idea what you are doing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. From dressing a baby to bathing to feeding, it is all unknown territory that you navigate while dodging well meaning advice all while googling the answer to every thing your baby does.
Baby 2: You have absolutely no idea what you are doing. I mean, you can dress and bathe and feed a baby fine but this baby is COMPLETELY different to your first leaving you scratching your head at the new little quirks you are trying to decipher. Only this time, you are navigating the terrible twos or maybe a dreaded threenager on top. Bonus!
Baby 1: There is not a face that this kid has pulled that you do not have a photo of. It was rare to go a day without taking a photo (or 500) of your first. Every milestone captured. Smiles, steps, silly faces. Enough memories to last a lifetime.
Baby 2: If you have many photos of baby 2, it is probably because your camera-star older child has called out “take a photo of us, mummy”. You will be late at photographing milestones (if you change their outfit, no one will know the photos were taken on the same day, right?) and it will stretch to days and weeks in between snaps.
But the one thing that doesn’t change. That will never change no matter how much angry whispering you have to do, or how many sleepless nights are spent pacing the halls. The one thing that won’t change is the love you have for each of your children. Your already full heart, magically doubles in size to allow a new person entry into the most sacred place of a mother’s love, complete and eternal.
How was having your second baby different to your first?
Image: D Images
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