I owe a lot to my first born child. Without him, there would be no “Rebel Mama”. I would never have known the simple joy of feeling tiny legs and arms moving about in my belly. I wouldn’t understand the satisfaction of discovering a true purpose in life – a reason to get my shit together, a reason try to make a difference in the world, a reason to be mindful of my words and actions.
He helped me edit my social circle, enabled me to embrace my body (ironic that it took some loose skin and stretch marks for me to really understand the beauty that is the female form) and showed me how goddamn tiresome I must have been to the poor souls who had the responsibility of raising me.
He IS me. He’s chatty and sassy and stubborn and sensitive and caring and selfish and opinionated and loud and imaginative and annoying and lovable. He shows me my own flaws and forces me to come to terms with them. And that’s the true definition of growth, isn’t it?
They say that children teach you much more than you teach them and from my limited experience with the tiny dictators, I’d say that’s pretty accurate.
But my second child, my sweet little 6-month-old cherub has taught me even more.
He has brought a sense of balance. I don’t rush with him. I trust my gut. I don’t worry.
Here’s the thing: first babies are scary as shit. You have no idea what you’re doing. Everyone keeps throwing the word “phase” out there but you really can’t wrap your mind around the concept until the “phase” is over, but while you’re in the throes of a “phase”, it feels like it’s never going to end.
The luxury of a second child is perspective. And it starts from the day the second line shows up on the pee stick. You know that pregnancy won’t be all rainbows and sunshine. You know that you’ll have to go to 800 doctor’s appointments before you get to meet your sweet babe.
You’ll show up to ultrasounds mentally prepared for the internal portion of the scan (a big WTF moment with your first). You’ll smile and nod at all the unsolicited advice you’ll receive and you’ll be able to respond to it with, “Ya. I know. This isn’t my first baby.” (a retort that shuts up the old guard pretty fast, in my experience)
The aches and pains won’t be worrisome. The impending delivery won’t be terrifying. The initial cluster-feed won’t feel like cruel and unusual punishment. And when you get home from the hospital? Oh yeah, baby. That’s when the magic of the second child really kicks in.
If you’re on the fence about having a go at baby number two, hear me out. There are a lot of arguments to support sticking with one child and calling that a day. THIS PIECE that Aleks Jassem wrote a while back pretty much hits that nail directly on the head and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s an extremely convincing argument.
There are LOTS of reasons to decide against adding another human to your family. Trust me – life with 2 is not all roses (remember THIS post?), but there are some massive perks that come along with baby no.2 that can not and should not be overlooked.
For starters, by the time your second comes around, you are already a baby veteran. Do you know how much easier that makes things?
You can detect different tones in their cries FROM DAY ONE.
“Wahh” – he’s getting sleepy.
“WWWWAAAHHHHH” – oh, he’s hungry.
“Wwahhhhhhhhhhhhh” – clearly the child is overstimulated.
That stress of “but what if he, like, DIES if I don’t run to him immediately”? Yeah, that’s gone. And that alone makes baby no.2 a much more enjoyable experience than baby no.1.
Since it’s not your first rodeo, you’re also very likely to already be a breastfeeding master. No longer are you stuffing nursing pillows all around you. You’re not stressing about whether or not to wake your baby because he’s been sleeping for 3 hours and you’re scared that if you don’t wake him, he’ll starve. You just shove your boob in his mouth and go about your day as normal… you are now an official breastfeeding ninja.
Another huge relief is that since so much of your time is legitimately consumed with making sure the toddler doesn’t start swinging from the curtains, you actually don’t feel an ounce of guilt for letting the little one chill on his own for a few minutes…. Because guess what? When you finally do get back to Mr. Independent, you’ll find him happily playing away because second children just have a way of figuring their shit out. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.
Oh and sleep training? Pfft! Here’s how that goes with baby no.2: Put the baby down. Start getting the toddler ready for bed. Baby starts crying. Toddler is already in the bath. Consider leaving the toddler alone in a tub full of water. Nope; not gonna happen. Finish bathing, drying, and dressing toddler. Oh look – baby has stopped crying and is now asleep. Bam. Sleep Trained.
Now, let’s talk love for a second. OH. MY. GOD. THE LOVE. No hint of sweetness will go unnoticed with your second. Try for a moment to recall the feelings you had in those first few days with your first child. Remember just staring at his little face? Being totally overwhelmed with emotion and wonder at what you made?
Yeah, that same feeling comes right back with baby number two… minus the shadow of worry and self-doubt that accompanied it the first time around. Imagine THAT! Imagine all the things you’ve looked back on and thought, “I wish I had taken the time to really remember this” or “I wish I had stopped for a minute to truly enjoy that” – And now imagine that you actually got the chance to do exactly that.
My eldest son is responsible for a lot. He taught me how to be a good mama. He taught me to have patience, to prioritize, to be intuitive, to pick my battles.
My second child showed me how damn good the first made me, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Am I saying it’s easy? No, I most certainly am not. But is it worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.