When I was pregnant I remember wondering how life would be once my second baby was born. I was a little worried about my toddler and wondered how she would handle it. I also stayed up many nights thinking how I was going to manage a baby and a toddler. I kept telling myself women have been doing this for centuries and that I would figure it out but the thought of it still kept me up at night.
I asked several of my friends how the transition was for them and the answers varied a lot, from it was easy to it was very hard for about a year. It made me realize it is different for every mom; so only when I had my baby I would find out if it was going to be easy or hard for me…
Now that I’m three months in I’d like to share my experience with you. As you may know from following my blog I’m into attachment parenting, which also means I don’t practice “crying it out” and I like to keep my babies close to me when they’re little. I’m also a stay at home and I live in a very expensive part of the country which means we can’t justify having me staying at home and hire help so I knew I would be on my own very soon after this baby came.
I wondered many nights how I would be able to manage a toddler while holding a baby almost 24/7 so if you’re wondering too I hope that this post will give you confidence. Although my experience might not be the same for you, it might be and this post might give you hope. 🙂
My husband and I decided we wanted our kids close together because neither of us had siblings close in age growing up and we feel that we missed out on that special sibling bond. Granted, having that bond or not depends mostly on the kid’s personalities but we thought closeness in age would probably help. So when my first daughter, let’s call her Cookie, was about to turn 2, I found out I was pregnant with our second, let’s call her Jelly. That meant that by the time Jelly was born our toddler was 2 year and 9 months old.
The first two weeks of Jelly’s life my mother came to stay with us to help us out and that made a huge difference. If you can have family help you out, then let them help you and for as long as they can. You will need that extra help, especially with meals and having someone play with the older child.
I was so tired those first two weeks that having my mom take care of my toddler was a relief. I was able to spend most of my time bonding with the baby, nursing and taking a few naps with the baby. When my toddler needed time with me my mom held the baby so I could play with her. If I could have had my mom for more than 2 weeks I would have but unfortunately she had to go back to work.
By the time the first 2 weeks were over I wasn’t feeling so tired and I was ready to tackle having 2 kids with occasional help from my husband. This baby seemed to be easier than my first in the sense that I could put her in a swing, we have the Mamaroo, and she would lay there for a while. This was perfect because it gave me enough time to cook and play with my toddler. I did feel guilty at times for putting her down since I’ve held my first basically 24/7 but my friends reassured me if she wasn’t crying she was ok, and they were right. Jelly also didn’t cry in the car seat, which was awesome since our first hated the car seat and it was impossible to go anywhere.
From week 2-4 I felt like I had this down. I was going out a little, cooking most meals and taking care of both kids but then between weeks 5-7 I had a breakdown. I started feeling that it was really hard, really really hard and I felt lonely. All of my family lives abroad (because I’m from Costa Rica and that’s where they are) and my husband was trying to help me as much as he could but he also has to provide for us and couldn’t be there 24/7.
I was trying to stay positive but I thought I was drowning. Then one day I broke down and told my husband and my midwife that I was having a hard time. After that conversation I felt like a big weight got off my shoulders and I started feeling better. I was back to having a positive attitude and things were starting to look better. Having a positive attitude really goes a long way, especially when you’ve hit a rough patch.
By then Jelly did not like the car seat and she would only stand to be in the swing for very short periods, which meant I was holding her almost all the time. This is when I started babywearing on a daily basis. I honestly don’t know how I could have managed both kids without babywearing.
Driving was hard because Jelly would cry a lot I started going to places where I could walk to because I could babywear. We went a lot to playgrounds, took walks around the neighborhood or to our downtown. After all, my toddler still needed to be active and use all her energy so staying at home wasn’t an option.
Now things are going pretty well. It is not perfect though. I drink coffee daily and I probably wouldn’t survive without it because I’m tired. Sometimes my toddler misses a nap because I can’t put the baby down long enough to get the toddler to nap. Other times my toddler watches more TV than I would like because the baby is nursing a lot and only naps being held. I have moments where I feel guilty because I’m not giving enough attention to Cookie nor Jelly. A few days a week my husbands brings lunch or dinner because I didn’t find the time to cook. Our house sometimes looks like it’s been hit by a tornado. There are many times I think of how much easier it would be if my parents lived close by… But the majority of days we do ok and we all feel happy – most of the time.
The transition from 1 to 2 kids is not easy but it’s not horribly hard, it’s just different and it takes time to adjust and figure it out. Handling the second baby feels easier than what it felt when I had my first. This time around I knew what the baby needed, what it was like and what to expect, so overall I was more relaxed with the baby. I feel my biggest challenge was -and still is- managing my toddler while having the baby and a baby that wants to be constantly held. So if you can get help, use it.
Going from 1 to 2 is challenging but it’s doable. I don’t have all the answers yet and I’m not a perfect mom but I feel like I can do this and I feel more comfortable having 2 kids now. My life feels right and I know as the girls grow we will have to adjust and go through many different phases but now I’m confident enough to know that we will manage somehow.
When we have a bad day I just remind myself that this too shall pass and that tomorrow will be a better day. Don’t feel bad if you get overwhelmed or have a bad day, we’ve all been there – it’s normal. If you’re about to have your second and are also worried about this transition, give yourself some time. It takes a little while to adjust but I promise, you will find a way, you will adjust and it will feel right…and don’t forget, there’s always tomorrow to try again. 🙂
How did you cope going from 1 to 2 kids? Any advice for expecting moms?
Read my sequel to this post by clicking on the image: