I’m a new mom…again! We recently had our second child. Yay! It has been an amazing experience. We are blessed that she is perfectly healthy, happy (usually) and that her big sister loves her so dearly. But it’s been a minute since I did this last. There are four years between the two and I’ve come to realize two things so far: It seems like I’ve aged more than four years since last time, why do I feel so old? 37 is not old! I’ve also realized that I am learning a lot this time around. Here are the six most important things I’ve learned as a new mom of two (so far).
1. You’ll still feel like a first time mom sometimes…
I remember the first time I had to change Emma’s diaper in the hospital. I had changed about eleventy-billion diapers in my life, having worked as a babysitter and preschool teacher when I was younger. Now that I was a new mom and it was my child, my diaper changing knowledge suddenly vanished. I remember standing there over her bassinet just staring at her. I eventually came to my senses, but having a second child is kind of just like that. At times, you’ll feel like you’ve never done this before.
It takes a while for your body to get readjusted to not sleeping, and for you to figure out nighttime parenting two kids. Bathing a tiny, slippery, new human is just as daunting a task as it was the first time. You’ll have to learn how to breastfeed again (or for the first time, like me), and you’ll have to learn your new baby’s cues for communication.
2…But some things are just like riding a bike.
Like sleepwalking. Your body will adjust and remember how to function in the wee-hours of the night. Changing diapers is like muscle memory (though I’ll throw in a disclaimer that I have two girls, I hear changing a boy might require a little more agility and speed).
You’ll probably be more comfortable with your second, as well. I remember I was afraid to leave my first out of my sight so I carted her everywhere. I mean, in the bouncer in the restroom. I never gave myself a second alone. This time, I’m comfortable setting baby in her crib so I can have some privacy. Big sister helps entertain while I cook dinner or do dishes. Which reminds me, you will quickly remember that you can do a lot with one hand.
3. What worked for the first won’t necessarily work for the second…and sometimes that’s a really good thing!
Just like every pregnancy and birth are different, so is every baby and every child. We learned quickly that what worked for our first wouldn’t necessarily work for our second. As I mentioned above, we are able to breastfeed this time. Last time there were issues that caused us not to be able to breastfeed so I exclusively pumped.
Our breastfeeding journey this time around has been surprising and fulfilling. However, she won’t easily take a bottle if I’m in the house. Or a pacifier. And she still doesn’t find her thumb very well. While there are times this is all frustrating, I’ve chosen to view it as getting extra time to bond with my last baby. While Emma preferred Willie Nelson when she needed calming, Maddie prefers instrumental guitar and Stevie Ray Vaughan (yes, my kids were born with good taste in music). We’re doing a lot more walking and swaying this time around as well.
Recognizing your children as individuals will not only help you when you’re adjusting to being a new mom of two, it will also be one of the most important things to remember throughout their lives. You’ll parent your children differently based on who they are and how you connect with them.
I know it can be easy to fall into comparing your children. Each child will develop at their own pace, the pace that’s just right for them. Obviously if you are concerned about your child not meeting developmental milestones, speak with your pediatrician. With over a decade of experience working with children and youth as an educator, I’ve had several sets of siblings. Each child is unique in their own way…and it’s a really great thing!
4. You probably had way to much stuff the first time around (here are the essentials)
When I was finally able to unpack the baby things from our move I realized that we had way too many clothes! There I was, about to burst, buried under an avalanche of onesies, baby hats, blankets, you name it. I immediately thought “how in the world did we think our babies were going to actually wear all of these things?” As I was preparing to be a new mom again, I decided it was time to go through a lot of the clothes and blankets we had and purge the ones that were stained or that we just didn’t like or use last time.
In addition to clothes, you were probably given (or purchased) so many other baby things for your first child. We ended up getting rid of about half of what we thought were “must haves” last time and kept or replaced the items with ones we knew would be more versatile, space-saving, and useful. Here are the essentials for every new mom:
5 Essentials Every New Mom Needs
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Muslin Swaddle Blankets
These can be used for so many things! We use them for swaddling, snuggling, photo backgrounds, burp rags, and fort creation with our oldest. If you can learn to swaddle well, you don’t need one that has Velcro. We like that they are lightweight and cool enough so baby won’t overheat in the Texas weather.
BrestFriend Breastfeeding Support Cushion
If you are planning on breastfeeding, this one is for sure essential! I know that people will tell you just to use pillows, but in our first few weeks this was a life saver! Eventually we graduated away from it but when we needed it, we were sure glad it was there!
Graco Duo Glider
For our first, we had a Rock N Play and that was where she hung out while I was attached to the pump for hours every day. Those have since been recalled but we found a great substitute! Our friends had one of these when they had their last baby and when I first saw it I told my husband that the next time around, we needed one. It has proven to be one of the best gifts! Maddie came home fighting jaundice and so we set this right by the window and she took many a nap those first couple of weeks in the sunshine.
A Baby Carrier
This time I decided I wanted a wrap in addition to the structured carrier we had before. I got a Solly Baby wrap and it’s perfect! It’s buttery-soft and doesn’t get super hot when I’m wearing her. Our pick for a structured carrier is the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons carrier.
A Compact Stroller
Last time we got a travel system that came with the clamshell carrier and a bulky stroller. It was great when she was an infant in the carrier, but once she outgrew that she rarely rode in the stroller itself. Instead we got a smaller umbrella stroller. So this time around, we donated the large stroller and got this. It’s more compact, truly one-handed, and just what we need.
5. You’ll miss time with your first child
For almost four years, Emma got all of our attention. I spent countless hours connecting with her, getting to know how special she is, and pouring all of my love into her. Once I got pregnant I had less and less energy as the pregnancy went on. Even though I knew I needed those naps and early bedtimes, I began to miss spending time with her.
Once the baby came, it was even worse. I was exhausted from being a new mom again and barely had the energy to do anything once the baby was down for naps. I tried to sleep when she slept but I felt those pains of mom guilt as soon as I lay down. Thankfully we had a lot of help in the first weeks so Em wasn’t always playing by herself.
After a few weeks I started to have more energy during the day. On occasion I asked for a grandparent to come stay with the baby so I could focus my attention on Em. It was a game changer. We went to the park, ate special lunches together, and finally got to go back to her favorite children’s museum.
It’s going to be hard splitting your time between the two kids, and your oldest won’t always understand (and will get frustrated even if they do understand) why the baby needs so much of you. Trying yo schedule time to reconnect with your older child, doing something they love, gives you an opportunity to show them you’re still there for them.
6. You will all have big feelings, sometimes all at the same time. Give yourself some grace!
Not only are you adjusting to being a new mom again, everyone in your household is adjusting to the new baby. Siblings might have mixed feelings about the baby (and might not be old enough to communicate or even fully understand how they are feeling). Emma loves her baby sister so much but she is so frustrated when Maddie is taking my attention from her. She tells me “you’re not paying attention to me” often each day.
You’re going to be exhausted and recovering from birth and sleep deprivation. It’s okay if you aren’t your usual self. Give yourself grace if you feel like you’re not the best parent (you won’t be, that’s just a given). It’s important that you realize that part of self-care for any new mom is giving yourself grace and understanding that you and your body are doing the best you can. Rest. You can’t imagine the difference a little good-quality sleep makes!
If you are feeling more than a little overwhelmed or anxious, reach out for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Postpartum depression and anxiety are very common and treatable, and can be diagnosed for several years after becoming a new mom. From personal experience, I can tell you I felt 1,000 times better once I saw my doctor and got some help.
What did you learn as a new mom?
So there you have it, six things I’ve learned as a new mom of two. What did you learn as a new mom? Leave a comment and let me know!
Resources for your older kids
Check out the following posts for resources for your older kids: