My second daughter is due to arrive any minute, and while most of what I’m feeling right now is sheer elation and anticipation of her birth, I have to admit I’m also kind of freaked. I was (somewhat) prepared for the fact that my entire life was going to change as I waited around for our first daughter to be born about two-and-a-half years ago, but this time things feel different. Scarier still, when I thought the opposite would be true.
Here’s the thing: when you have your first kid, you’re made almost hyper-aware of how stressful it’s going to be. You can’t walk into the supermarket pregnant without comments, and once a stranger has asked if it’s your first and you’ve said yes, the list begins: You’ll never sleep again! You’ll go days without showering! Say goodbye to your social life! But honestly, I didn’t find new motherhood all that bad.
Sure, the first several weeks of breastfeeding were tough and before she was sleeping through the night, I was exhausted all the time. But I was a first-time mom and totally in love with my baby. All the negatives I’d been hearing had me so prepared that once she arrived I thought, “This really isn’t as bad as they all made it sound.”
But then it’s time for a second. And this time, things will be different. Sitting on the couch nursing a cluster-feeding newborn won’t mean Netflix binges and Pinterest marathons like it did the first time. Instead, I’ll also have to figure out a way to entertain a 2-year-old at the same time. And those sleepless nights? They won’t be met with late-morning slumber — the days of being able to sleep when my newborn does are a thing of the past.
In general, I’d say I’m a pretty decent mom. I listen, love, and work hard to keep our lives happy and safe. But I would be lying if I said there aren’t moments when I look at my 2-year-old and wonder how anyone trusted me with this task. She is a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure. And I don’t always know how to handle the challenges as they arise. Suddenly, the thought of juggling a newborn on top of the notoriously “terrible” twos seems daunting.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my daughter more than anything, and I know there’s room in my heart for another. We planned and prayed for this baby just like we did our last, and I know that our family is (technically) ready for a second. We wouldn’t have started trying if we weren’t committed to having another baby.
And yet I look in the mirror at my 9-months-pregnant self and wonder sometimes, Am I ready? As a stay-at-home mom who works part-time, my plate is already so full. Add dance class, grocery runs, and precious little husband-and-wife time and you’ve got one pretty busy lady. A newborn? How the heck is she going to fit into this crazy day-to-day of ours, and how will I have enough energy to give to not only her but her deserving big sister, who still needs me so much?
I get that I am by no means the first woman to have a second child, and certainly I’m not the first who’s grappled with these same concerns. But when will I snap out of it, gain my confidence? Will it take meeting my little bundle in the hospital, for the love to overpower the fear? Or am I going to be sitting in a heap on our living room floor in tears this fall because I just can’t handle it all?
What’s keeping me going for now is the knowledge that this isn’t my first time taking care of a newborn. Hopefully, I’ll be less obsessive over every little thing since I’ve done it before. And I’m counting on my 2-year-old who loves babies to fall for this one, too.
No matter what, though, baby #2 is coming. Very soon I’ll understand fully what it is to feel my heart — and my stress level — double in size. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here panicking like a first-timer… if not worse!