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Baby & Toddler, Life, Motherhood

Going from one child to two – what I’ve learnt

Going from one child to two

Going from one child to two isn’t quite what I expected. It’d been a learning curve to say the least and whilst everybody’s experience is, of course, different, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learnt.

I also thought this article would be a good one to lead back in with, because I have been rather distracted over the past nine months and I haven’t been as present on this site as I’d have liked. Life happens, hey and babies take over your life.

Anyway, I am now officially back, so let’s kick things off with an overview of what going from one child to two is really like.

This time, you know that your baby’s room doesn’t need to be perfect

When I was expecting my firstborn, I was adamant that everything had to be perfect. I wanted the room freshly decorated and everything organised ahead of baby’s arrival. But when I was pregnant with number two, they didn’t even have a bedroom until I was 37 weeks pregnant.

Now I wouldn’t recommend leaving it to the last moment like we did, but with baby two, you do know that the room doesn’t need to look like something from Pinterest. For a start, your baby will hardly be in there during those early days. You’ll also be aware that how you decorate the nursery has no coloration to the amount you love your child.

The second time around, I also set the baby’s room up more for myself. I knew I’d be sat in there in the middle of the night, feeding, so I wanted a decent sized, television, Netflix, a snack box and a massive water bottle on hand. Those things were more important than the decor.

You don’t have to worry… you will love your second baby just as much

When I was expecting number two, I can remember looking at my eldest and thinking: ‘I don’t think I could possibly love another human as much as I love you’. People would say: “oh, but of course you will”. But I never truly believed them.

Well, let me tell you; as soon as number two arrived, that worry went out of the window. I love them both equally and I’d happily take a bullet for either of my children. It is quite a strange phenomenon really, having your heart open up in that same way for a second time, but I can confirm that it happened to me.

winter days

Your experience will be impacted by the month (and year) that your baby arrives in

“Your baby’s due in October? Oh God help you… our Kieran was born in October and it was awful. Looking after a newborn during those cold, dark days is not easy.”

Hearing that line when I was six months pregnant was a delight, let me tell you. But I soon learnt that my straight-talking friend had a point. Having a baby at the end of October was pretty depressing. You want to go for a walk? It’s throwing down. Fancy talking in some sunshine (or even sunlight?!?!)? You should be so lucky. I definitely felt more restricted in those early days. Labour MP Jess Phillips, said: “I will never again make the mistake of becoming pregnant in late January” and I’m inclined to agree. Having an October baby certainly comes with its own set of seasonal challenges.

The year when you deliver your baby will also impact your experience. At this point, I have to take my proverbial hat off to those that delivered during the Covid years. That must have been rough and I know that many felt robbed of the newborn and maternity experience.

I had my first baby in 2018 and the second came along in 2022. The economy tanked during that time and the cost of everything skyrocketed. Money felt tighter the second time around and I returned to work much sooner. Part of me feels sad about that, but that’s the reality of having a baby in 2022 and you have to work with the circumstances you have.

You won’t wish time away

With my firstborn, I was constantly willing the next stage on. Once he could sit up, I wanted to see him roll. Then, once he could roll, I wanted to see him crawl. But I’m now looking at his school uniform list, wondering where the last four-and-a-half years went!

With my second baby, I have tried my best to take in each and every stage. She will soon be walking, talking and giving me back chat, so I want to enjoy the baby moments for as long as possible.

hand-me-downs

You will experience the joy of hand-me-downs like never before

When I had my little boy, we bought a mixture of new and pre-loved items. Whilst part of me always knew that my baby would grow out of things quickly and I have always been an advocate for the second-hand pushchair, I’d be a liar if I said I that I didn’t indulge in some overpriced baby luxury.

Fast forward a few years. Baby number two is new on the scene. Friends have give me all sorts of wonderful hand-me-downs and I have never been more grateful. I know just how little items get worn now and I am so happy when a friend chooses to gift me something their child no longer uses.

I also love passing things onto friends. Both of my children were bought some gorgeous gifts when they were first born and I love passing those items on.

It’s hard… but you will count your blessings every day

Some days are hard, getting out of the house can feel like a military operation and the family diary is overwhelming to say the least.

I certainly don’t love every moment. But even on the rubbish days, I count my blessings. I feel so lucky to have two healthy children. Honestly, it’s like having a lottery win.

I am also acutely aware of just how much some people struggle to have babies. I have two amazing little people in my life and I will never not be grateful, even when my last nerve has been trampled on!

being kind to yourself

You’ll cut yourself some well-deserved slack

When I had my first baby, I was desperate to breast feed. I can’t explain why, but I just felt it was something I really wanted to do. But of course, sometimes things don’t play out as you’d like and I was unable to get my son to consistently latch on. It was a difficult time and I documented my feeding story with a view to helping other mums.

I exclusively pumped breast milk for my first baby. And it was hard. I put myself under a lot of pressure and I spent time attached to an electric breast pump when I should have been snuggling my newborn. I regret putting myself under such pressure and I wish I’d been a bit kinder to myself.

When I was expecting number two, I knew I wanted to breast feed, but again, I couldn’t get her to latch. This time around, I decided I’d combi-feed from the off. I would pump twice per day and I’d see any drop of breastmilk  as a bonus. I cut myself some slack.

We have definitely reduced the pressure in other ways too. I haven’t, for example, felt the need to rush out to every baby class. We take things at our own pace and do the things we enjoy.

Some lessons (and worries) will be null and void

You’ll know what to do with your second baby, right? After all, you’ve done it once before. But you never have two children the same, so you might find that things that worked a charm with the first, won’t work with the second. That means that you’ll have some new learning to do.

You will also find that you have different worries. My firstborn was a climber. He escaped from his cot at 14 months and we found him sat on a shelf in his bedroom. Yet I found myself worrying that he wouldn’t talk. He doesn’t stop now, but he wasn’t particularly vocal when he was a baby.

On the other hand, my second born practically came out of the womb chatting. She doesn’t stop babbling, waving and doing her best to communicate with others, yet she has taken her time learning to sit up and I was starting to worry it would never happen. She doesn’t seem as physical as her brother and would much rather have a chat.

I was also worried about weaning my second baby, as my firstborn is a fussy eater and food has always been a challenge. But number two loves her food and she’s happy to try anything and everything!

They are two completely different children, so I’ve had to learn again with second!

life is expensive

Going from one child to two reminds you just how expensive children are

We all know that children aren’t cheap and that things like childcare are going to set us back. But I think you forget about the true expense, along with the pain of childbirth. Then, you have your second child and you remember just how much nursery costs before they get their free hours. After a few months of maternity leave, you also remember just how much having a baby impacts your cashflow.

By the time your second child arrives, you’ll also be paying out for the eldest to partake in extra-curricular activities. You’ll be all-too-aware that before you know it, you’ll be paying out for number two as well. You may not have factored the cost of clubs and swimming lessons in when you had number one, but if you already have an older child, you have a living, breathing reminder of future childhood expense.

The expense won’t end there either…

You’ll experience a whole new level of mum guilt

Since going from one child to two, I’ve struggled with mum guilt. I want both of my kids to have the same experiences and opportunities, but it isn’t always possible. For example, I had fourteen months off when I had my first baby, but with the second I returned to work after nine months. With baby one, I also got an additional nine months off with him, due to the pandemic. Whilst we all hope and prey that we won’t have another pandemic to contend with, I do feel guilty that number two won’t have any additional time with me.

Conversely, I know that my second baby spent more time being held as a newborn, because I didn’t spend those early months constantly attached to a breast pump. So I feel mum guilt about the past, as well as the present!

Deep down I know that it isn’t possible for both of my children to have an identical start in life, but I do feel guilty about certain differences. I am working on it though…

don't ask

People will STILL ask that question…

We now have two children. With the arrival of the second, I’d have thought that people would stop asking when the next baby was coming. But no, I’m still asked that question, at least once per week.

Why do British people feel the need to ask? It’s intrusive for a start!

When I am asked, I always give the same response… Our family is now complete. We are done.

On that note, don’t be expecting a guide to going from two children to three anytime soon!