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the truth about having a second baby

Second baby syndrome is real and anyone who says it isn’t is a damn liar. Fast forward to two years after the birth of baby Bella. We were blissfully happy with a gorgeous, though demanding toddler (whom I was completely in love with) who wanted all of my time, every single waking moment. She had decided long ago that co-sleeping was the thing for her, and was still in our bed, with no end in sight. Not that I minded, it was comforting to see her tiny cherubesque face in the middle of the night as she head butted me when I awoke for the 100th time to pee because I was 9+ months pregnant. It made it hard to bask in the glory of the pregnancy of baby number 2, when baby number 1 was still a baby.

The second time, I only gained 18, ok 20, lbs. But for some reason I seemed a lot larger. It was pregnancy 2.0 and I was like Godzilla. The first pregnancy was nothing like the second pregnancy. I didn’t start showing until I was 8-months pregnant. I looked a little thicker in the waist but at my baby shower (2 months before my daughter was born) people were teasing me that I didn’t look pregnant. And I really didn’t, well, only in my ass.

There I was, bigger than before  ever, chasing a sprinting toddler who had the energy of a boxer puppy on crack cocaine, I was absolutely drained. I had all day sickness for 4 months. It was so bad that I had to wear sea sick bands! I looked pretty ridiculous. Motherhood is hard, y’all.

No one was quite as impressed that I was pregnant the second time around. Don’t get me wrong, we were all ecstatic. We planned for baby #2, and got pregnant right away, it was just different because the time that I used to bask in all of my procreating glory last time, was now being used to shuttle a 2-year-old to classes, play dates, and constantly trying to explain and prepare her for her coming soon baby sister. I had to prepare myself to go through labor again and come out the other end the mother of two kids.

I was obsessed with making baby # 1 not feel left out or abandoned by the pending arrival of baby #2 so much so that when I actually did go into labor, I only stayed at the hospital long enough to give birth, spend the night and then I went home. I was there about 32 hours total. I blame it on the screen saver on my cell phone. It was my 2-year-old smiling like she was the center of my universe and the guilt that she had to make room for someone else, gutted me completely. The betrayal.

Second baby syndrome was in full force in our home.

I loaded up my brand spanking new baby girl, all the mega maxi pads with wings, mesh panties and Dermoplast they would give me and I went home. But bringing home baby was different than the first time. There was no 15-mile an hour drive home. Step on it, Jeeves, I’ve got a baby at home that needs me. There was no time to recoup as a family. The Big Guy took a week of paternity leave and we took turns staying up with a colicky, jaundiced newborn and quelling the fear of lemurs under beds, singing Wiggles songs and dealing with regression. Second babies are exhausting.

What once was a mandatory 6-weeks before we went out into the world was a day. I had a newborn who needed to be checked. I had a 2-year-old who had classes to attend and play dates. I couldn’t punish her plus, I didn’t want this to be the beginning of years of therapy and sibling rivalry. What used to be packing the equivalent of luggage to leave the house became keys, diapers, wipes, a bottle, snacks and a stroller. Believe me, it was twice the babies and 1/2 the stuff. Baby wrangling is hard, folks.

I spent a lot of those first few weeks reevaluating what motherhood should look like. You know it’s so easy to be a great parent when you don’t have children but once you add real life, breathing, children who you love more than life itself to the mix, things get a little less black and white. I broke all of my own rules. Wiggles in the middle of the night? Sure. Co-sleeping? Absolutely. 5-second rule for the binky, hell yeah! Bottle when needed if the breasts don’t provide enough. Yes, a thousand times yes. Don’t sweat the things that you can’t change. Love your children and do what works for your family. That’s the good stuff; all the love.

Second baby syndrome is awesome.

It means you have a second baby to love and twice the love to receive in return. Who gives a shit if your house looks like it’s been hit by a Tornado? Who cares if your legs haven’t been shaved in 3 weeks. Look at their faces. That is unconditional love and it’s priceless. They grow up. Way too fast. Your house won’t be dirty forever. Before you know it, they won’t need you for everything and soon after that they will need you for even less. Enjoy every minute of it now.


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