What they say is true. Having a second child is both easier and harder than having a first. The baby stuff is easier. It’s not all new; you know what you’re doing (or you eventually remember). I’ve been very lucky because Monito’s disposition is very similar to Osita’s. He doesn’t sleep as long but he’s pretty chill and he breastfeeds very quickly. Mothering him is not so different from mothering Osita, so I usually feel like I know what to expect. That makes it seem pretty easy.
Of course it’s actually much harder because mothering a newborn is only a small part of my responsibilities. In fact, the mothering a newborn part takes a backseat to mothering a preschooler, most of the time. What is really difficult is manage both, especially when I’m alone. A preschooler’s needs are always contrasting with a newborn’s; if I’m doing something for one of them, I can’t be doing much for the other. There is a lot more crying than there was with one kid.
And yet, that has it’s benefits as well. You know how a lot of people claim that second babies are more “chill” than first babies? I think a lot of that is because they have to be. For example, sometimes I HAVE to put Monito down in a chair so I can deal with his sister. A lot of times he eventually gets fussy, but I can’t get to him and have to let him fuss or cry for a bit while I deal with Osita’s needs. 90% of the time, he stops before I’m able to get to him; usually he just goes to sleep. If he were my first child I’d have picked him up long before he’d be able to fall asleep. I’ve even started putting him down on purpose when he’s drowsy and the majority of the time he falls asleep then too. Part of being able to do that is I’m more in tune with his cues because I’m better at recognizing and reading them, and part of it is most of the time I just can’t rock him down like I would have with a first child. I’m also way less inclined to pick him up at the first sound of fussing. He does a lot of “sleep fussing” (as we call it) and I never pick him up unless his eyes are open and it escalates to crying. As a first time mom I’d never have had that kind of patience, but this time around I know every sound doesn’t warrant a response. And sometimes, when I think it does warrant a response, I can’t do anything about it anyway. It’s clear he’s going to teach himself self-soothing way before his sister ever did. So yeah, he will seem a lot more “chill” than Osita was, but that may be more born out of necessity than his actual disposition (although I’m sure some second babies wouldn’t self soothe in the ways he does and I KNOW I’m very lucky that he’s willing and able to do that).
So yeah, parenting two kids feels infinitely harder than parenting one ever felt, and yet dealing with my newborn feels a lot easier. I think what helps the most is knowing that whatever is hard won’t be hard forever. The first three and a half years of parenting definitely taught me that in a big way. And while people can TELL you that is the case, and you may understand it in your head, there is something about LIVING it that helps you really believe it. Dealing with thrush this time around has been super annoying and painful, yes, but I’ve also dealt with it a lot better because (a) I know what to expect and (b) I know that eventually it will go away. I know that this too shall pass, and while there have been times that I’ve broken down in exhausted panic and cried because it hurts so bad or it just plain sucks, most of the time I just end up sighing and reminding myself that it will get better some day, even if I can’t imagine it right now.
As you know our whole household has been sick, A LOT, since baby boy came home. Mi.Vida has had this horrible hacking cough for weeks and Osita has had it even longer. I finally got it this weekend but mine seems to be a less virulent strain (or my immune system is better–and after ten years of teaching I tend to believe that is the case). Mi.Vida is starting to get really down about his cough, it’s driving him crazy, giving him headaches and just making him all around miserable. On the phone today he kept repeating, “I’m going to be sick like this forever. It’s never going to go away.” I tried to remind him that this too shall pass, just like my shitty thrush would go away, just like the last month of my pregnancy finally came to an end, just like horrible things usually do get better over time. He didn’t seem very convinced, but I was surprised by how convinced *I* was of my own words. I guess I really have learned something in these past 3.5 years of being a mother.