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Just about every expectant mom has some worries about what’s to come. What will labour be like? How do I install a car seat? What’s a swaddle? Can I actually do this? The list of things to stress about is endless.
So you’d think it would be smooth sailing once you’ve had one child and are expecting a second baby. But the reality is just because you have car seats and swaddles figured out (maybe), doesn’t mean you’re cool as a cucumber when preparing for Baby Number 2. Adding a second bundle of joy to your family comes with a whole new set of worries you hadn’t considered the first time around. Here’s what you may be feeling (and trust us, everyone else is feeling it too):
What if I don’t love my second kid as much as I love my first!?
I hear this from 1000 percent of second-time-moms-to-be, and despite being profoundly illogical, it also makes so much sense. I think it comes down to this: You have a child whom you know intimately and love with a deep, almost primal love. And it feels like you could only possibly give that intensity of love to one person, which means that love is already all used up. The well is dry. Sorry, Baby 2.
Well, as someone who is now on the other side of this worry, rest assured that your heart can grow almost exponentially just like the Grinch’s, and it truly will hold enough love for every child you welcome into your life. I don’t know how it works, but it’s science.
What will happen to my relationship with my first child?
A sort of addendum to the first point is this one. If you are giving 100 percent of yourself to the child you have now, it feels like you’ll have to take some of that love and attention away so Baby 2 can have their share. Think of it as a pie (stay with me here): Child 1 now only gets half, and Baby 2 has the other half, and neither are getting an entire pie’s worth of love. And it’s not just love in that pie. It’s also attention and patience, quiet snuggles in the rocking chair, cuddles on the couch with Peppa Pig, adventures in the backyard or at the park, or any other special one-on-one time.
The truth is that while I did lose the ability to give 100 per cent of myself to eldest at all times, I learned how to provide balance and discovered new ways to connect with them each of them as individuals. In some ways, that one-on-one time is even more special now, and my relationship with my eldest is as meaningful as ever.
Our family dynamic is going to totally change
I don’t know about you, but I found my first go-around with a baby very difficult. My husband and I went through months (years? decades? eons? no, just months) of sleepless trial-and-error (and some nasty fights) trying to figure out how to function. And then finally, at around the 11 month mark—maybe because I went back to work, or maybe just because it just clicked—we did it! We found our groove and life was finally running smoothly again. We had a schedule and a rhythm, and felt almost, dare I say, comfortable?
So when I found out our second was on the way, I had moments of fear. Bringing a baby into our home was going to undo everything! Schedule, rhythm and groove right out the window! We were going to have to reinvent ourselves as parents of two children, and I couldn’t picture what that would look like. In the end, that learning curve came and went faster than it did the first time, and within a month it felt like our second baby had always been with us. And our smooth-as-clockwork schedule? That was a mirage. It doesn’t exist and won’t exist until they’re both moved out. Give up on that dream and find a good planner!
How will I manage caring for a child and a newborn?
For an A-type like me, the thought of juggling two children—when my one already totally overwhelmed me (holy smokes she was a lot!)—seemed like more than I could comprehend. Pregnant with my second daughter, I was acutely aware of how frazzled I felt when my first was born. Not just because she was a colicky baby who cluster fed and did not sleep, ever. But because I felt alienated and alone on maternity leave, sore and unfamiliar with my body, and profoundly exhausted. I couldn’t fathom going through all of that again, but this time with an active and high-energy toddler. How would I nurse my newborn and get snacks for her sister? How would I manage naptimes? How would outings with the stroller work? What about bath time? It seemed impossible, and the logistics terrified me.
The reality, when the time came, was a little of both. It was a whirlwind, and my second daughter’s babyhood went by in a blur because I was doing 1,000 things at once. But not only was it manageable, it was fun (mostly…sometimes). You figure it out, and your kids love you no matter how you present their snacks to them: shaped like a butterfly on their favourite plate, or whizzing through the air as you toss Goldfish toward them while you breastfeed a newborn and scroll Instagram. It’s fine, it’ll all be fine.
What if my older one hurts the younger?
This was a fear that nagged at me when I was pregnant, and which became more pronounced in the days preceding and proceeding my second daughter’s birth. My eldest was two and a half, and toddlers aren’t known for their gentle hands, self-control or ability to follow directives like: “Hands off. Please don’t touch. Baby can break. You can’t pick her up.” My two year old was handsy and I had to watch her like a hawk to make sure she wasn’t pulling the baby off the couch to bring her to me in the kitchen (true story) or trying to spray carpet cleaner into her little face (also a true story). Luckily nothing drastic happened, but if your second baby is coming within one-to-four years of your first, all I can say is I get it, and keep the carpet cleaner on a high shelf.
What if they don’t get along?
They won’t. I mean, they will sometimes, and on those sometimes your heart will explode with love. But a lot of the time, they won’t (even in adulthood). Relationships are hard and messy, whether you’re preschool-aged or middle-aged, so find tools and strategies to support them as they navigate their feelings of anger and frustration when they fight, and yeah… solidarity.
Can I afford this?
Oh boy. Listen: This answer is different for everybody. But it’s a legitimate concern and one I totally get. Learn how to budget, remember that day camps and babysitters are both way more expensive than you think, Facebook buy-and-sell groups are the key to nabbing sweet deals on second-hand winter boots, it’s 100 percent okay to buy toys at thrift stores, find an amazing network of moms you can trust and turn to for support and guidance, set financial expectations with your partner, and go easy on yourself.
I wish I could tell that to every mom-to-be, new mom, mom to multiples, mom to tweens, moms to teens, and yes—to myself as well: Go easy on yourself. If you’re fretting, it already means you deeply care, and you want the best for your kids, your partner, and your family. You will love your kids deeply, and be driven by the desire to give them the best of yourself and the most out of life, so let that love be your compass. To all worried moms out there, whoever you are: I see you, and I think you’re awesome already! You’ve got this.