I have to say, I much prefer being a mom rather than a “new mom.” Being a new mom is absolutely terrifying. Amazing and awe-inspiring yes, but absolutely terrifying. It doesn’t matter how many books you read or classes you take or people you talk to (and trust me, I did it all!), nothing will ever prepare you for what it’s like to be fully in charge of another human being.
I had never even held a newborn in my life until I gave birth to one and now I had to be responsible for this little being who is completely helpless and entirely reliant on me?! Now that baby is a rowdy 20-month-old toddler who is getting a baby sister in approximately 8 more weeks.
The funny thing about this time around is my fears are totally different. I’m not even worried about the new one coming, I’m worried about how the older one will deal with it. And I’m worried about how I’ll survive having 2 under 2. And I’m worried about the fact that everyone I know either decides they’re done having kids after the second, or they take a really long break… because what exactly is it that happens to break these parents after the second comes along?!
But really, my fears are totally different this time around. These are the things that I panicked about with my first that I’m not really worried about at all with the second:
1. Keeping her alive.
Newborns just seem so fragile and breakable and I’m already a hyper-vigilant person as it is, so I basically just watched the baby at all times to make sure he was still alive. Everything just made me so nervous. Granted, I’ll still be a little nervous, but at least this time I have some sense of what I’m doing and won’t be afraid that if I don’t properly burp her she’ll suffocate on a big burp bubble.
There is definitely a much greater feeling of confidence this time around and that is an amazing feeling.
2. Getting off schedule
Every mom has that thing they’re crazy about. And for me, it was sleep. I needed to teach that baby how to sleep, asap! I’m a writer and really need my brain to work and it just doesn’t without sleep. So I came in for battle fully prepared. I knew everything there was to know about infant sleep … and (pat myself on the back), I did get him sleeping 12 hours straight through the night by the time he was 9 weeks old (don’t hate me. I’d be happy to share all my secrets in another article if you’re interested!).
But here’s the thing, since I did such a good job training him and getting him on a schedule, I was terrified to ever deviate from that schedule. I was scared that one wrong move would break his sleep. And then it happened when he was 4-months-old. I broke his sleep. We were away for the weekend and he got off track and he got a little spooked sleeping in a new place and his sleep was broken for a few weeks after. But I fixed it and he was back to being my champion sleeper, but the thought of it happening again was terrifying.
So I was a slave to his schedule. I was scared to ever let other people feed him or put him down for a nap because if anything went wrong my magical unicorn sleeper might be no longer! I wish I had just relaxed because the fact is, sometimes you get off scheduled but you can always get back on track!
I think, or at least I hope, I’ll be able to relax and let go a little bit more with the new one. I also know what I’m doing now so if we do get off track, I basically know everything there is to know about baby sleep so I know I’ll be able to fix the problem … at least I’m pretty sure I will!
3. Losing the baby weight
OK, so I’m still worried about losing the baby weight, but that’s because I came into this pregnancy still holding onto 10 pounds from the last pregnancy. But I gained a lot the first time and it sent me into an absolute panic because I thought maybe all or most of it would remain. But the truth is, the majority of it came off right away with no effort, those last 10 pounds … well, those will come off if they feel like it or if I somehow find the time to exercise or if I’m just too busy taking care of two kids under two to find the time to eat!
The first time around I spent endless hours in the chatrooms reading what other women said about gaining and losing the weight (and here’s what I learned: everyone is totally different and reading about other people’s experiences really doesn’t tell you anything about what your experience will be like!).
4. Stimulating her at all times
With my first, I was very concerned with giving him a head start on life. I felt like I needed to be teaching him basically at all times. And I felt guilty if he was in his swing just staring at the mobile and I was checking emails. I felt like I always needed to be doing something. Granted, I don’t plan to ignore the new baby, but I also won’t feel the urgency to read to her and sing to her and engage with her literally every second of the day because …. I know what those little babies turn into!
It’s a luxury to give attention as you please … soon enough, they demand every ounce of your attention. Soon, you’ll be reading the same books 45 times in a row (and that won’t be enough, they’ll demand Again! Again! Again! ). Soon enough, you won’t be able to cook a meal while your baby happily sits in a bouncy seat… that baby will be right there at your feet trying to put his hand in the fire or just refusing to let you do anything he can’t participate in.
So this time, I will savor the moments of having a baby who can’t move and is happy just sitting in one place … because soon enough they are all over the place and that’s when the real insanity begins!
5. Worrying about the milestones
The book says they’re supposed to roll over at 3 months … my baby isn’t rolling over yet … my friend’s baby was rolling over at 2 months … is something wrong with my kid???!!!
The stupid, useless, meaningless milestones … I am so excited to not worry about them this time! I mean, yes you need to pay attention because sometimes something is actually wrong, but most of the time it’s not. Babies just do things at different times. My baby talked very early but walked very late. Other kids don’t talk until they’re 2 and start walking at 9 months. Eventually, they all smile and roll over and walk and talk!
And one thing I am worried about this time…
Will I be able to love this next one as much as I love my first?
I know that every parent feels this way and I know that love can grow in unimaginable ways. I love my toddler more every day, it just keeps expanding. And I love him so much it’s hard to imagine loving anyone else as much. Also, he happens to be an exceptionally easy child, even as a crazy toddler. He is just so good. What if she’s not? What if she screams all day and night, will I love her like I loved him? I’m sure I will. I hope I will. But it’s scary. I don’t want either of my kids to feel neglected or less loved and I guess finding that balance, and really spreading the love in equal measures, is my biggest fear this time around.
Wish me luck and please share your experiences!