The question I have been asked most frequently since having our daughter is whether or not the transition from one to two children was harder than the transition from zero to one child. It was also a question I asked fellow mom-friends during my second pregnancy. I wanted to hear their thoughts and get their feedback since they were experienced in this unknown territory I would soon find myself in. The overwhelming answer? Their transition from one to two children was exponentially harder than their transition from zero to one.
You want to know what I think about that? Complete fabrication. Not that those moms lied to me but I feel the exact opposite way about the whole situation. I wholeheartedly believe that the transition from zero to one child was much harder than going from one to two. Why you ask? You’re in luck. I will explain…
When you become a first-time parent you willingly and happily give up things you used to do with such ease: random date nights, going to the movies, staying up past eleven then sleeping in late the next morning. Things like lounging around on the weekends or going wherever you want, whenever you want. All gone.
There was also the constant worry that came with being a first-time parent.
What does that cry mean?
My baby just slept for 8 hours straight, are they ok?
Did they eat enough?
Did they eat too much?
Does that poop color look ok?
Is my baby hitting the milestones when they need to?
My baby has been crying uncontrollably for two minutes. Will they die? (drastic, I know).
Why does breastfeeding make me feel like I am being dragged topless down a gravel road when everyone made it seem so natural and easy?
All these changes and situations, at least for me, were much more difficult the first time around because they were brand spanking new. Anything new is typically scary.
Second-time around the parenting-sun? It is like a cool breeze on a warm tropical beach with a beer in my hand. Ok, maybe not exactly like that, but it is comfortable and I know that the world isn’t going to end if one of my children is crying. And there is probably still a beer involved. Basically… I will put my daughter in her crib when I need to shower and she can cry it out for ten minutes while I shower because I haven’t washed my hair in two days. The good news about that? She will be fine and my hair is going to look fabulous. She is only crying because she wants me to hold her. This mom knows better than to be suckered into that trap.
The thing about being a second-time parent is that you already know what to expect. I knew that I was about to be extremely tired and overly exhausted; that my baby was going to cry and that it was going to be ok; that breastfeeding was going to be a challenge. It was going to take time to get the latch correct and that it was probably going to hurt for a couple of days. But I embraced it all and did not get as emotional about it because it was no longer unchartered territory. I had experienced it all before and I was ready to dominate parenting, round two.
The one thing I did find challenging with the transition from one child to two was figuring out our daily schedule. My son is in preschool, takes swimming lessons, has friends he wants to hang out with, and we generally just like to be out of the house. Keeping him cooped up in the house all day every day is just not an option and could be met with some serious three-year-old resistance. At first, I just kept on with our regular schedule. If we were on the go, my daughter would sleep in her carrier when she got tired and I would always have two bottles with, just in case.
Figuring out how to go about our day based on her sleeping and eating schedule was difficult. I was cutting our days short and canceling activities because of it. But I think my mistake was thinking I needed to do it that way.
What I needed to do was make her schedule around ours.
Luckily she made her sleeping schedule for us. At one month old she started getting very vocal if she wasn’t having her final feeding at 6:30pm, then in bed by 7pm. We also transitioned her to the crib at night and I think her pediatrician almost died when I told him this. But listen, mom and dad need good sleep in order to be the best parents we can be and our daughter proved to be the noisiest sleeper ever.
This self-made nighttime schedule made figuring out her daytime schedule a bit easier. After my best friend came to visit, who has two kids of her own, I expressed my hesitation about getting her on an eating schedule because it felt so difficult to do with our already hectic daily lives. She told me to just bite the bullet and do it. She helped me figure out the plan – working backward from her bedtime feeding – and we implemented it while she was here. The advice and moral support was everything to me and gave me the strength to make it happen.
One hundred percent, I wouldn’t trade the first-time parent experience for anything in the world, it taught me a lot. I am just being real with you with how much actually changes in both situations. And in the end, going into it for a second time is not as scary, overwhelming, and definitely doesn’t require as many life-changing daily adjustments that you weren’t already aware were coming. And waking up to my daughter’s sweet, gummy smile every morning makes me wonder why we didn’t decide to do it sooner.