Being a new mom was a real shock to my system. I read Maria Guido‘s piece suggesting you remain childless if you’re on the fence about procreation and nodded at her every word. After motherhood cold-cocked me, I wasn’t sure I could get back in the ring again. But nature had a different plan for us.
Our second baby arrived 23 months after the first. Once again motherhood blew me away, but this time in a good way. Having two kids is far better than I could have imagined. The differences in the experience of being a mother for a second time started in pregnancy. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was “easier” because creating life is never easy. It wrecks havoc on your back and your bladder. As your belly grows, so does the insomnia.
But this time around, I was easier on myself. Having been through it before, I could maintain a better perspective. Too busy running after another child to worry about every little thing, the second time around was less stressful overall. I ate more cold cut sandwiches and didn’t waste a single minute feeling guilty for not playing Mozart to the baby in utero. I’m sorry to admit that my second pregnancy lasted the entire 40 weeks, but this time I knew with certainty when I was in “real” labor. After she was born, I didn’t leave the hospital wishing one of the nurses would come home and help me figure out what the heck I was doing.
After gestation, the newborn phase was a breeze the second time around. I realized I had made the transition into new motherhood so much more complicated than necessary. By the time my first was born, I had spent nine months wholly focused on preparing for this child. I furiously researched baby gear, sleep issues, and nursing tips beginning the day the pregnancy test revealed two bright lines. With all that knowledge floating in my head, there was a whole lot of thinking, observing, probing, and questioning after he was born. Should he be looking so cross-eyed at this age? Do you think he is still hungry? Would you say that rash is bumpy or splotchy?
With the second child, I spend a lot more time doing rather than anticipating. Inconsequential issues were realized only in hindsight. Hey, when did she stop doing that weird thing with her mouth? I didn’t rush to a reference book or doctor’s office for every minor concern and instead I learned to trust my instincts without letting everyone else weigh in first.