During your first pregnancy, everyone wants to give you advice. People are bursting at the seams to share their tried and true parenting hacks with you. They will tell you that you absolutely-without-a-doubt must breastfeed, or give formula, or co-sleep, or sleep train immediately, or whatever the parenting trend is at the time.
When you’re carrying your second child, the wellspring of advice dries up. People either sympathize with you, or whisper cautionary tales.
They’ll tell you about everything sibling rivalries, and how the work doesn’t just double, it increases exponentially, “One is like one, but two is like twenty.”
There are upsides though, they will eventually tell you after you have been significantly traumatized.
Giving birth is so much easier the second time around, your first having wrecked that shit on their way out.
You may hear stories about how the second kids are actually cheaper because you already have all the supplies from the first.
I suppose that is possible, if you’re lucky enough to have two kids of the same gender, in the same season, spaced out far enough that the first is done using everything the new baby needs.
This also assumes that you saved everything that you had from the first.
Then sure, you’ll save some money only having to buy approximately one million diapers and a baby book.
Although, real talk, all the money I saved not buying new car seats and receiving blankets has gone directly towards buying matching outfits for my toddler and newborn #noregrets.
The second kid should also be a breeze because you should, in theory, already know what you’re doing. The first time around I texted my sister-in-law a lot of pictures of poop (she works in our pediatrician’s office so it is slightly less weird than it sounds).
I might have a better idea of the range of normal for newborn poop now, but with the new kid comes new situations.
When my second was a week old I caught her umbilical stump on her clothes. I spent a few days sweating bullets about it being infected. Guess who ended up with an inbox full of pictures of a gross umbilical stump? My poor sister-in-law again. New kid, new problems.
Sure, a lot of things are easier because this isn’t my first time at the rodeo. However, this is a totally different kid and totally different things come up.
If you happen to have a toddler and a newborn at the same time, you may just be living in the third circle of hell. All that stuff that seems so easy this second time around is completely negated by the fact that you have a toddler that is really busy being a toddler.
Remember how scared you were that you’d break your baby when you brought your firstborn home? Well that fear is gone. And it’s replaced by the fear that your oldest is going to go all Lenny on the new baby and smother it as soon as you turn your head.
Oh, and remember when you just had that ONE kid? And you spent your recovery doing whatever the hell you wanted to? I re-watched all seven seasons of Lost while making my way through sleepless nights and cluster feedings the first time around.
This time I have to do it while enduring hour after hour of Daniel Tiger. All I have to say is, “We have to go back!”
But there are upsides. There are matching outfits and older sibling snuggles. There are also the sweet moments where my toddler hands me diapers as I dress her sister in the morning or when she holds the extra boppy on her lap next to me and pretends to nurse one of her dolls as I feed the baby. It’s not all hellfire and tears, and it’s definitely not all sunshine and roses, but it’s somewhere in-between.
And that can be pretty great.