Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Second Child

This morning I had coffee with several girl friends of mine when I was inspired to write this post. The four of us all had one thing in common. Two kids. My second child, at two years of age, was the oldest of the bunch making me the most familiar with the sensations that come with the birth of a second child. The youngest was a newborn baby who accompanied his mother and was 4 weeks old. Then there was a 6 month old who was with his mom and a nine month old who was with a sitter. The conversations we had about our various experiences made me realize how common some of the feelings that come with having a second child are and even more that I should share them in the interest of providing comfort to anyone else in those same shoes who was not fortunate enough to be sitting with us.

For me it started during the second pregnancy when somehow everyone seemed to forget I was pregnant. Since I already had another one running around I was not really treated with the same type of careful consideration as when I was first pregnant. Then the nine months were up and I went to the hospital where the standard of care seemed to somehow transfer over and, in comparison to the first birthing experience, I was essentially ignored. I do not blame the hospital (maybe I should?) but the point is that they knew that this was my second child so I guess they did not think that I needed as much help as I got the first time. In pretty much every area from checking me physically to caring for my newborn they performed significantly lower. Measured on a scale from one to ten and ten being the best and the type of care I got the first time I would give them a 4 at best the second time around.

Now I leave the hospital. I get home to a house with a 21 month old, a husband and now my newborn baby. The next six months to one year are essentially a blur with the exception of the emotions I felt. I was breastfeeding so that meant no sleep. Then when I did have a chance to even just sit down in the quiet I felt like I needed to spend time with my older daughter since her care had been taken over by grandparents and I feared she would forget who her mother was or even worse that she would stop loving me. I used maternity leave this time around more as bonding time with my almost two year old than I ever thought I would. So I did not ever rest at all. Well, I went back to work 4 months after having my baby and cried daily for several months to follow. I hated leaving her, it hurt me not being a part of my older daughter’s (Andira) life anymore and on top of all of that I was piecemealing childcare together based on who (which grandparent) had which day free in the name of avoiding daycare which put me at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule. At the time I felt like my husband was not even supporting me but as I look back now I see that nobody could have helped me with the state I was in except myself.

I wish someone would have told me back then what I am telling you now. About these feelings and that they are OK, about the fact that it is expected for you to feel the way you do but that it is not forever or that you are just going to have to wake up everyday and decide to be happy and the rest will fill in. Don’t allow your happiness to depend on some vision of “perfect” that is unattainable with a newborn baby and another young child. I would have been in better shape had I known these things. We need to be there for each other especially in times of such massive transition when a mother is literally the food for another living thing as well as the shoulders for the rest of her family.

If you have or are having a second child rest assured that if you are feeling it I most likely have too and if I have not I guarantee you that one of the four of us girls who met for coffee today have. And know that you are just fine and many women have sat right where you are sitting and are better for it. There is no need to waste your energy on sadness, worry or any other negative emotion. Just pray for strength and do the best you can without expecting everything to fit into a mold you have built for yourself. “Perfect” is not the same for everyone. That is what will define “perfect” for you.

Enjoy that baby because although it may be challenging, they grow up so fast. We love you and you are going to be great!


  1. I haven't had my second yet, but I hear so many moms giving themselves a hard time about it. I will remember this post when that time comes!

  2. I hope it helps! And I love your blog! It is nice to meet you.

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