When I had my first baby, I knew nothing. I did all the typical first-time mom things to prepare: read blogs and books, utilized our pediatrician office hours, asked friends, and learned everything I could. So when I was preparing for the arrival of our newest little one, I figured I had done this once before. That was more than I could say last time around, so I must have a leg up this time. Plus, I had an army of mom friends and resources to turn to if I needed advice or reassurance. I knew how to navigate the forums and Facebook groups to find the ones I trusted. I began to get a warped sense of preparedness as people kept telling me “oh the second is so much easier” and “at least you know what to expect!” But I’ll be honest, it didn’t take long after we came home from the hospital to realize I should have listened less to those people and gone in with a clear head. I’m not saying everything is difficult, and things certainly haven’t surprised me like they did the first time around, but it’s just so different. My daughter is now 10 weeks old, and I’m still learning all her little nuances.
Here are a few things I’m learning:
- Colic is rough guys. My first baby had a streak where he wouldn’t sleep unless held and he cried every night from 5-8pm. He also had a rough time sleeping at night. We often recall that his first four months of life were his “difficult” time, but he grew out of it shortly after. If that was difficult, then I don’t know what our baby girl is. She is seriously next level my friends. If she is awake, she is nursing or crying. And I mean loud, angry crying. It’s improving each week, but if you had told me colic could be worse than the nightly crying my son had, I’d have laughed. What has helped us through is reassurance from doctors, support from family, and knowing that it really will get better with time (and lots of snuggles).
- Information does not equal time. What I mean is, knowing what it’s like to have a baby does not add hours to your day. I don’t have any idea why, but I kept thinking I had this newborn stage in the bag. I thought I’d spend my maternity leave playing with the baby and getting a few things done. What a way to set myself up for failure. I didn’t get anything done with my first baby so why would that be different? Just because I had more information? It doesn’t work like that. Knowing how to take care of a baby doesn’t mean this time I’ll have the time to make dinner or hang curtains. It means I just might know a little more about how to care for her. I’m still learning that it’s ok to spend my time holding her, snuggling, and tickling her little toes. My leave is all about her, and that’s ok! That’s what it’s there for!
- Babies are all different. People say this but listen to them. I can’t help but find myself saying “but our son never did this!” Or “why won’t she nap in the swing like he did?” It’s so easy to compare, especially when frustrated or confused by all the crying, but it’s only going to set us up for more confusion. It also lends itself towards a habit I do not want to get into for the rest of their lives. They are two very different, individual tiny humans. Let them be different, accept it, and embrace it! For example, while our son wasn’t great at sleeping early on, baby girl has given us many many nights off. From 5 weeks on, she was getting up twice a night. At 9 weeks she is getting up once in a 10-11 hour period (knocking on wood and dancing on the inside).
There are so many moments I find myself thinking “what am I doing?” – Not because I don’t know, but because I think I should. Moms, stop the guilt. You don’t have to know everything just because you’ve done it once before. Can you make cookies from memory after following a recipe only one time? (If you can please tell me how!) Chances are, no! And this is so much bigger than cookies, this is a tiny little baby that is learning how to exist in this giant new world on their own. It’s a terrible analogy, but you see my point!
Next time you feel confused or guilty for not having it all together with baby 2, 3, or more, just take a breath, pat yourself on the back, and realize you’re doing what you can, and it’s great! Also, it’s ok to ask for help. That’s what that mom tribe you already have in place is for and expanding that tribe can be fun too! I guarantee they aren’t going to judge you because you “should already know,” and if they do, stop wasting your time – get a new tribe. Cause momma, ain’t nobody got time for that!