Having a Second Kid – After the First Was NOT Easy

by Honest Mom contributor, Jeannette, blogger at Mommy Needs a Martini

having a second kid after the first was NOT easy

Never in 400 million years did I ever think I’d have one kid, let alone two. I was raised a military brat with very little extended family around, so small is all I knew. When my niece and nephew were born I thought, for sure, that was plenty of little ones around me; especially since I could send them home when I was done being the cool Aunt.

Then I met my husband. Oy.

As the baby of seven – yes, seven natural births by the same woman – he quickly acquired a growing number of nieces and nephews, as did I in marrying him. The constant flow of children in and out of my house slowly softened my heart enough to want babies of my own.

It took nearly two years to conceive our first daughter with more obstacles than expected, but she was born healthy.

And VERY unhappy.

Her birth was traumatic for me, with medical complications, which led to mild postpartum depression. I felt like I was thrown to the wolves when they discharged me with this little person that I was suddenly responsible for.

Her first year was filled with feedings every hour and a half, colic, projectile vomit, reflux, explosive diapers, very little sleep for everyone and my near mental break. After Hell Year, as I affectionately call it now, I was completely satisfied with her being an only child. I was so satisfied, in fact, that I got rid of all things baby. I mean ALL of it. Well, except the crib since she was still sleeping in it. Otherwise, all of it. Gone.

When our supposed-to-be-an-only child was 18 months old, we bought our first house. As my grandmother inappropriately made known, “You know what they say: new house, new baby!” Ew, Nana. But that is essentially what happened – and ten months after moving in, our second daughter was born!

I was dreading another Hell Year, especially one occurring during the Terrible Twos. I obsessively planned ahead to help ease the upcoming onslaught of mental instability that I expected. I had diapers and formula stockpiled, I acquired most of the baby gear at secondhand stores or on Craigslist, hand-me-down clothing was washed and sorted, our toddler was on the road to being potty trained and she was moved into a toddler bed.

We were ready. And along came baby.

Her birth was a scheduled c-section, complication-free, and I was wearing jeans the next day. What a difference a calm, prepared Mama makes! This kid was sleeping 6-7 hours overnight by 5 weeks old and at 12 weeks old was sleeping 9 hours a night. Her feedings were every 3-4 hours from day one with consistent naps in between. She didn’t cry unless she was hungry. She spit up maybe 8 times in her first 3 months and didn’t come remotely close to the stomach emptying reflux her sister threw at me. Yay!

Well, half-yay.

There was still that Terrible Two toddler in the mix. She really tried to help with the baby. And by “help,” I mean get in my way. But at least she tried to help with, and not maim, the baby. Her slight regressions were nowhere near as awful as I predicted they’d be so, ya know, there’s that. The temper tantrums, however, increased significantly. But, her little personality and great manners really started to show through.

The road to Motherhood was bumpy and emotional. The road to being a Mommy of Two was much less horrifying than I anticipated. But if the first three years on the road to raising little girls is any indication of the road ahead, well, then, I better buckle up.

My mantra: This too shall pass. It might feel like a kidney stone, but it will pass. Whatever it is.

Was your first baby really tough? Did he/she make you scared to have another – and did you have another?

photo credit: kellynphillong via photopin cc

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40 Replies to “Having a Second Kid – After the First Was NOT Easy”

  1. I love reading about the first few years of motherhood. Thanks for sharing your story. My first baby was an angel baby. That’s not to say it was all sweetness and light, it wasn’t, but he was a pretty content guy. I did have a difficult birth with some complications and a touch of postpartum but I was a little prepared for that since I had a few friends that went through it. I had my husband take me to my therapist the day I got home from the hospital and I told everyone around me to feel free to intervene if they saw me loosing it. I also had one kid, I was home and I had family around. Again it wasn’t perfect, but I was lucky.

    The second baby changed everything. And it wasn’t that she was a difficult baby, because she wasn’t. But I went through a much harder postpartum period, was exhausted trying to take care of a demanding three year old and a new born, nursing around the clock was brutal with two kids and I had more complications from my c-section. Thankfully I was once again prepared so I didn’t have to suffer to long, got on medication and figured it out.

    The third baby was a surprise, but this time I did things very differently. I was on medication, I had a mothers helper and knowing how hard it was to nurse when I had one kid already, I bottle fed baby 3. Big difference. I really think be prepared can make such a big difference. That is why I find posts like these so helpful. It’s great to talk about what kind of stroller to buy and what crib is best, but moms need to hear from other moms what is can be like. Thanks again!! πŸ™‚

    1. I always say if my youngest was born first, we would’ve had six kids! It’s funny how they change growing up, though. My oldest was a difficult baby and super fun toddler. But the easy baby is a really, REALLY tough toddler..

      Thanks so much for reading!

  2. I still want another kid (maybe two more) even after my traumatic birth experience. I was four days past my due date when I finally went into labor. And then continued to go through labor for the next 46 hours followed by an emergency C-section. It was hectic and chaotic.

    To top it off, I wouldn’t get numb so they kept loading me up with meds. I convulsed from all of the medication, which was right around the time they brought my boyfriend in. Needless to say, he nearly pooped himself from the fear.

    And then my son had acid reflux and was what they call a “high stimulus baby.” Which basically means he had to be involved in everything going on and never slept. And I couldn’t put him down. Ever.

  3. My first (and only) was difficult. Looking back I know I had some PPD, despite continuing taking meds for my depression. She didn’t sleep through the night until well over a year and was such a slow grower that I had anxiety from that. Coupled with my husband’s anxiety (he finally started seeing a counselor and was diagnosed with GAD and probably OCD) and my tendency towards depression, we’ve just decided that having one is the right thing for our family. But it’s hard when people ask when we’re having another or why we are stopping at one. I just can’t picture us as a happy family with more. I love my daughter with all my life, but I know my limits. And another child would exceed that.

    1. You said it perfectly – you know your limits! Seriously huge, giant hugs to you for knowing what you can and can’t handle AND for getting the help you knew you BOTH needed. The “when’s the next one” questions are definitely hard to handle. I usually shrug them off with a grin and a sing-songy I don’t know. Shuts them up and leaves my answer ambiguous.

      Thanks so much for reading and take care!!

    2. Nicole- Seems like I had a very similar experience to yours–baby didn’t sleep or eat well and was always ( and still is) very small so we constantly heard “He’s so little! My baby is so much bigger than yours!”. Plus I was very overwhelmed at the time and probably did have PPD. I love my son, but it was really hard time when he was an infant. My husband and I just cringe now, when someone will say “It’s time for another one! Why aren’t you having more kids yet?” It would be lovely if people didn’t just automatically assume that everyone has to have more than one child.

  4. Jeanette, I think i have told you this before, but I can very much relate having had my two girls 16 months apart and my oldest, who had colic now being 4 years old. I do believe we get through and it all really does become water under the bridge in the end. Thanks for sharing here and seriously sounds like we could trade a few war stories any day of the week!

  5. I had a similar experience. To this day my first-born, a 7yo boy, is the one I have to constantly hover over to make sure he is following through with what I ask. He was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten. (I could write a book about all the things I love about him but holy crap he is a LOT of work!) My 3yo girl was easy from the start, soothing herself to sleep as an infant, and now organizing her room and keeping it clean just because she “likes it that way and isn’t it pretty?” She’s such a little kiss-ass. πŸ˜‰

  6. It’s so amazing how similar our stories can be. πŸ™‚ Fertility treatments to get the first, then I threw caution to the wind and got the second. Then we bought a new house and got the third (and my mother warned me, too!). Years filled with projectile vomiting, weighing diapers (yes, weighing them to measure output), and breastfeeding. But they grew up into such wonderful boys, and now men. Makes every bit of it worthwhile.

  7. I had nearly the same experience with my two boys (ages 2.5 and 5 months). I too was dreading baby #2 after a ''hell year'' and even immediately signed up for a tubal along with my section πŸ˜‰ I have been so pleasantly surprised at the easier experience this time (although he is still not a great sleeper). I can now see why people have 5+ kids! What a joy and blessing they are πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. I requested a tubal during the C-section of my second, too. But they said there was SO much scar tissue from the previous botched section that they couldn’t navigate without closing me up and re-cutting vertically!! I opted out at that point.. maybe it’s a sign?!

      Thanks so much for reading!!

  8. Are you writing about my 2 kids? Holy crap was the second one a piece of cake. Now at 4 years old and 2 years old it’s getting better, but I mostly have a therapist to thank for that!
    I want to thank you for your blog, as a mom with one child diagnosed with adjustment disorder and sensory processing disorder and the other having severe allergies to nuts I battle depression. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone.

    1. Wow, Jamie! What a wonderful compliment.. Girl, you are definitely NOT alone!! I’m going to have to research AD. My daughter’s Occupational Therapist described her SPD as an adjustment disorder so I had no idea they were separate issues. We start allergy testing in September.. I fear we have a long road ahead of us. Thank you so much for reading and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Stay strong, mama!

      1. We work with an OT for the sensory and a social worker for the adjustment disorder, they go hand in hand however we started on the behavior aspect before the sensory. We didn’t know what was going on, just that we couldn’t handle the outbursts. It was explained that even with fixing the sensory issues there are still learned behaviors that need to be worked on as well. At 3 1/2 she had the emotional development of a year old. We’ve had a lot of success with the behavioral therapy although somedays are just harder than others and you feel like you are failing.

  9. Switching from one kid to two was pretty tough, though they were about equal in their behavior as babies. The hardest time was the year the third was born, because I had 3 kids under 3 that year. With no help, my C-section recovery took longer than it had with the other two, and my life was a mess of diapers, nursing, potty training, not sleeping, etc.
    It is getting easier now as they get older. The baby phase is over and, while I loved them as babies, I’m happy it’s in the past and done.

  10. My daughter is 2 now, and I go back and forth on this. On the one had, she was and is a HANDFUL, as even her grandmother who thinks babies are a breeze admits. I have (unofficially diagnosed) anxiety and depression issues, made worse by my own chronic health problems, the stress of motherhood, and my husband’s long-term unemployment (which causes me to work outside the home when I’d rather be a SAHM right now). So all that has me ready to say that’s it, we’re one-and-done. On the other hand, my daughter is AMAZING, and who wouldn’t want more awesome little people in the world, in our lives? Sooner or later we’ll have to make a decision one way or the other but right now I give different answers depending on the day!

  11. I always say my kids are 3 years apart because it took me that long to work up the nerve for another one! I felt the same way having my second child after my very intense first child. Second child was complete opposite in every way – very easy going, quiet and happy. I can totally relate to this feeling!

  12. Umm, helLOO? Are you sure you didn’t write this about me? From what I hear, most families have at least one kid that was the center of a “Hell year”, and I am glad we got that experience with our first kid. I called it The Crucible. We we forced to learn and adapt so much/quickly, that now we feel like we can handle anything. And I think it made me a better parent too…. Just the intensity of the whole situation yanked my flaws to the forefront (selfishness, anger, impatience, you know, the classics) and my love for my child forced me to fix them, instead of letting them fester over the years.

  13. My first was hard, mainly because she was my first and I was so unprepared. My second screamed nonstop for the first 4 months straight and refused to sleep or nurse so that was pretty tough too. It didn’t take my 2 year old long to figure out that she could pretty much do whatever she wanted because Mommy was busy with the baby. With #3, I decided to bottlefeed since breastfeeding had been such a nightmare with the older 2 kids. Best decision ever. It made all the difference in the world for her eating (my first baby who actually enjoyed eating!) and I was able to care for the older two more than if I had been breastfeeding. #4 is due next March and I plan to bottlefeed this one too. No regrets!

  14. I feel like I’ve given up so much in these 21 months, that I don’t think I’m ready to give them up again! I mean I haven’t been able to go out much or read or watch movies and so on, and now that things are getting better, I am terrified of going back to that newborn insanity!

  15. You are a better woman than I. Year one with the terrorist was enough for me. I think our road was pretty bumpy though. 5 years of trying, then adoption, which although amazing was also horrifying. I was done. I am done. No miracle babies here!

  16. My first child and his pregnancy were significantly easier than my second. I wrote about it here (http://pretendyouregoodatit.com/2013/06/25/my-miracle-child/).

    My second child is much more stubborn, strong-willed, defiant, and violent. She beats up on her older brother because she’s figured out he won’t hit her back.

    I think it’s so great the things that come easier the second time around, it made me feel like all the stress the first time around was worth it because I really did learn something.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  17. Thank you for posting- I needed this right now! I have a 4 year old daughter & a 2 month old daughter. My transition to 2 is kind of the opposite- #1 was fairly laid back, just regular baby fussy & a decent sleeper. Our new little bundle of joy is colicky, screams a lot & can’t be put down. It’s getting better but I feel like it has been hard on our older daughter because her little sister needs so much attention & the mantra of rest when baby rests is out the window when you have other kids! But, they are healthy & beautiful & I love your quote of “this too shall pass!”

  18. I was 39 when I got pregnant with my first (hubby was 46). Since the clock was ticking, I told him we could start trying for number 2 when number 1 was 6 months. Big Mistake! I knew a baby would be hard but nothing could prepare me for how hard it truly is. Our little girl is 4 months now and I finally feel it’s okay to call her a difficult baby without feeling like a terrible mother. I’ve told the husband not to talk to me about a second child right now, though he likes to remind me of my earlier promise.

    Family and friends tell us to enjoy her while she’s small, that it will all pass in a blink. I know I should, but I’m anxious to get through these difficult months and begin enjoying my daughter. And a part of me is afraid the difficult months will never end.

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