I was both thrilled and terrified when I found out my second baby was on the way. Becoming a mom had been the biggest transition of my life. One day I was just hanging around, taking long showers and lots of naps. The next I couldn’t even find two minutes to brush my teeth. This tiny human took up so much of my time, brain, and heart that it just didn’t seem possible. How was I going to care for another one of those tiny humans and my now toddler at the same time?
Flash forward ten months or so and things were going much smoother than I had anticipated. Although adding another kiddo to the mix had been far from seemless, it was certainly not the insanity that I had feared. Of course there’s the fact that this newborn thing was not entirely foreign to me, but there were also a few things in my life that were different the second time around.
I’d already trimmed the fat
And by this, I do not mean those last few pesky pregnancy pounds (they’re still hanging around, unfortunately). I mean that I’ve cut out all the extras that I can do without. I used to wash and dry my hair daily. Now it’s every three days, and braids and cute headbands are my best pals. Daily eyeliner? Gone. Weekly grocery shopping at different locations? Hello Peapod, and, while we’re at it, hello precut veggies and fruit. This stretch of your life is challenging and tiring. If there’s any time to cut yourself some slack, it’s now.
The key is not cutting EVERYTHING out, but picking what’s not important to you personally. I flat out refuse to give up getting my hair cut and colored and date nights with my husband. But that other stuff? Buh-bye. If you’re waiting for baby number one now, I highly recommend figuring out what you can live without and preparing to chuck it out the window.
I know my body
One of my most vivid memories of my older son’s first days is sitting in my kitchen at 4 am, eating everything and anything I could get my hands on, as my husband and son snoozed peacefully upstairs. My milk had just come in and I have never been so ravenous in my entire life. Other moms have told me that their body will cut down on milk production if they don’t get adequate nourishment. Mine did not get the memo on that. If I don’t eat and drink enough, my breasts are still chock full of milk, but I can get dehydrated and starving to the point of nausea. Super fun when you’re recovering from childbirth!
Needless to say, this time around I started packing it in during every meal they fed me at the hospital. I brought my own water bottle which I constantly had my husband refill. I told anyone who asked how they could help after baby came home to please bring food. Actually, I didn’t even wait for my mother-in-law to ask; I just begged her to bring me her signature pasta salad. I guess I figured I was giving her a grandchild, so why not? Knowing how my body was going to react to breastmilk production allowed me to head off the tough part at the pass. Same thing with the major crying spells for no reason exactly 48 hours after delivery. When you’re pregnant no one mentions these and other fun parts of postpartum life. The whole experience was much chiller when I was prepared for how my body was going to act.
Nothing eases a transition like talking to someone who’s been there before. By the time my second son arrived, I had met a whole collection of mom friends through story hours, moms’ groups, and other activities. One friend sent me hand me downs from her son who had also been born in winter. One told me about contraction timing apps. Another I texted when I was not quite sure if I was in labor yet and wanted a second opinion. One sent me a sweet text in the hospital about remembering to care for myself while I had a newborn. Yet another invited me for a play date at her house as my first solo outing with my boys. And pretty much everyone commiserated with me about middle of the night feedings. I felt like I could get through this because of the community that surrounded me.
So if you’re expecting number baby number two and terrified, remember that you got this mama. It’s not your first experience in the newborn trenches and you’re better prepared this time. With a little bit of luck, it can be less stressful and more joyful this time around.