My second child has taught me some very important lessons.
When you’re pregnant with your first, there usually is a type of confidence like, “what’s so hard about this mommy thing after all? I totally nailed that registry!”
Along comes sweet, sweet baby.
And zero sleep.
And nights awake wondering how you will ever survive.
If there is one amazing thing about children, they will humble you like no other. Then they also love and fulfill you like no other.
I’ve been reflecting on what I did with my firstborn, and then what I decided to do differently (or learned) with my second. I thought I knew it all, but boy was I wrong. And with each child came new and different lessons. Here’s what Beau taught me, because I didn’t get it or listen the first time around:
- Stick with breastfeeding. All the homework in the world won’t help if your baby is tired from a long labor, or has jaundice (in Beau’s case). Getting help from a lactation consultant is helpful, and can pinpoint problems early on. Because of mine, I was able to maintain my milk supply even when he wasn’t breastfeeding well.
- Find a pediatrician you trust. My mom intuition never felt comfortable or on board with our last pediatrician, and I ignored it. Now that we moved, I was forced to find a new one, and they are unbelievable. Having a pediatrician who listens and offers solutions I agree with, is so comforting. I wouldn’t ever stay with a pediatrician again just because we had been with them for a period of time.
- Possibly skip the double stroller. I thought since I will have two little kids, I should have a double stroller. Debatable. Now that Shep is big enough, he really dislikes the stroller, and while I do really like the UppaBaby Vista, it’s bulky and I’m usually using it with Beau and Shep is walking. I keep debating about getting the double Bob, but then remember that Shep stays in it for about 5 minutes.
- Buy second-hand. I bought two baby items for Beau from a neighborhood swap site, and they are some of our favorites. The Fisher Price Swing and his Britax car seat were both under $30 and perfect for our needs. Baby stages last in the blink of an eye, and it’s not worth coughing up mega dollars for things they either won’t like, or will spit up all over anyways.
- Take the full maternity leave. I took the full 12 weeks with Shep, but not with Beau. I thought I wanted to get back in the saddle right away and had a new job I was really excited to start (that would long-term give me more time with Beau). But, I went back at 10 weeks. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed home three more weeks. If you are wondering what you should do – remember that WORK WILL WAIT. Your baby will never be that age again.
- Sleep will come again. I was hoping I’d have one of those unicorn babies that sleeps through the night from day one. Not the case with either of them. Waking up every two hours for a few weeks totally messes with your mental health and physical strength. I would have been better off if I had just remembered – it goes so fast and before I know it HE WILL sleep again. It’s not forever (although it feels like it in the moment). And even once they get older, you’re always looking for ways to help your kids to sleep better.
- Find mommy friends and socialize. On the rare days coffee gets you out of bed, go meet up with a friend somewhere. It can do wonders and make you feel like a human again. I think my natural surviving mechanism has me comfortable at home, but whenever I would meet a friend I always felt more optimistic about tackling my day with a newborn.
- Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be the type of mom YOU want to be. Not what the latest ScaryMommy article said, or what your perfect neighbor does. Be your own mom and own it. You don’t have to follow one parenting type, and you can make up your own. Your babies love YOU, not the brand of mommy you are.
- Forget about the baby weight – for now. Worrying early on about losing weight will only stress you out. It WILL come off, and most times pretty quickly with breastfeeding and running around after a toddler and baby. But your body was made to do so much more during this time. Save up that energy for feeding your baby and cuddling your toddler. They sure do not care if you have five pounds left to lose. It’s all about find the right balance.
- Babies don’t need much. I always realized this one about a month in with both of my kids. It’s amazing how we’re wired to want and purchase all the “best” things for a baby, but how unnecessary so much of them are! A newborn really only needs: 1) cuddles, 2) swaddles, 3) milk 4) somewhere safe to sleep 5) baby carrier. Past that, you’re golden. You don’t need to spend ungodly amounts of money on the newest things out there.
What did you learn as a mom – either the first, second or fifth time around?