7 Things I’m Doing Differently with Baby Number Two

By: Christine Fadel | Posted: February 2, 2015  Article on What to Expect.com

First-time moms have no clue what they’re doing. At least I didn’t.

I knew, in theory, the things to do and how they should be done. (Of course, this was all according to my mother, my grandmother, old folklore, my friends with kids, the books, the experts and the random strangers who accosted me in the supermarket to tell me that I was doing it wrong.) But I didn’t truly know what I was doing until I was in the trenches of early motherhood — actually doing it.

This is why my first child was a bit of a science experiment. She fulfilled the trial and error portion of the parenthood program, all the while, preparing me for baby number two. This isn’t to say that there won’t be major adjustments with my second child; nor, does it say that the things that worked with my first won’t work for my second or vice versa. What it does say is that there is a benefit to all the trial and error. You live and learn, if you will.

So, here are the seven things that I’m hoping to do differently with my soon-to-be-born second daughter:

1. I will have a birth plan. My birth did not go very well. I went into labor without any real idea about the kind of experience I wanted to have, and I assumed other people would make the best decisions for me. That outlook backfired. I was pressured into an epidural because I was progressing so quickly — which I was later told caused my labor to slow down and, long story short, ultimately ended with (according to my doctor) a preventable postpartum hemorrhage. I’m aware that so much is out of my control with my daughter’s birth; however, I can at least walk (or roll via wheel chair) into that birth center with a general idea about what I want and, more important, what I don’t want to happen. And, I can make decisions for myself based on what is best for me and my health, as well as the health of the baby.

2. I will prep and freeze as many meals as I can before the baby is born. If I couldn’t make it and eat it with one hand or if my husband couldn’t order it or reheat it, it wasn’t in the cards for my newborn post baby diet. Now that we also have a 3-year-old to feed, my hope is to make at least a few weeks worth of meals to have on hand. Even if it’s nothing but frozen Bolognese sauce or premarinated meats that my husband can throw in the slow cooker before he leaves for work and hearty and healthy hydrating soups that me and my oldest daughter can have for lunch, it’s still better than the endless amount of cheese sticks, drinkable yogurt and the Chinese takeout I survived off of for months.

3. I will get out of the house. Blame the constant nursing, the lack of motivation to shower or get dressed, or the postpartum depression I was suffering from, but I don’t think I left the house for a solid few months after my daughter was born. That is, unless I absolutely was forced to. And while I don’t think my 3-year-old will give me many other options after her sister is born - the playground isn’t going to play itself, Mom! — I now know that two of the best things for mama and baby are fresh air and vitamin D.

4. I will buy less stuff. Registries are fun. Little miniature overalls are quite possibly the most adorable things ever made. What isn’t fun? Realizing that you only used half of those baby “necessities” once or twice, and your baby never wore those adorable overalls because she outgrew them two days after birth. With your second baby, you just know better. Also, your toddler already takes up enough room — why add more to the mix than necessary? Do I really need that huge, bulky plastic infant bathtub? No, no I don’t. Do I need the swing and the bouncer and the huge plastic Exersaucer? No. No, I don’t.

5. I will ask for help. If you’re like me, you feel this need to be ON when you have guests in your home. But let me please assure you that being ON is the opposite of what guests expect from you when you’ve just had a baby. Those sweet relatives and caring friends are not only there to see and hold the new baby, they’re also there to help you get adjusted in your new role. Whether that is to bring you lunch, lend a helping hand to the dishes or pop in a load of the endless laundry that piles up with a newborn, they have very capable and willing hands — all you have to do is ask. I’m not quite sure why I was hesitant to ask people for help: Maybe it was pride or the pressure to be Super Mom from the onset of motherhood. But I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress had I just swallowed that instinct to entertain and let my eager-to-help loved ones be ON for me.

6. I will cut myself some slack. The first few months with a newborn are tricky, whether it’s your first or your fourth. With my first baby, I had a completely delusional idea of what early motherhood looked like, yet I was the opposite of what I pictured: I was grossly sweaty, I had a stranger attached to my breast constantly, I couldn’t stop crying uncontrollably, and contrary to what the media sells us, my body was not ready for a bikini two weeks after giving birth. And as if motherhood isn’t tough enough, I put this extra pressure on myself to be what I pictured as the ideal. Unfortunately, because my reality and behind the scenes looked very little like the highlight reels so many people put out there for all to see, I thought something was wrong with me, which wasn’t the case at all. This time around, I want to keep everything in perspective and remind myself that I deserve grace and patience just like I would give it to anyone else. If early motherhood with one child was tough, I imagine I’ll need all the patience and grace when bringing another baby into the mix.

7. I will live in the moment. What is the one thing you hear consistently from every other mother who has come before you? “Enjoy every moment because it flies by and the next minute, they’re going off to college!” You shrug it off with your first because at that point, you’re simply trying to survive the colic, the reflux, the constant wake ups and the manic growth spurts. You often feel like that (insert any particular stage here) will never, ever end. But it does end. All of a sudden, your colicky newborn is a thriving 3-year-old who has earth shattering tantrums, a toddler who doesn’t need or want as many cuddles as she once did, and who won’t slow down even for a second just to give you a hug. So, yes, I will absolutely live in the moment. I won’t wish a second away, even if they’re difficult and some of the most trying of my life because I am now achingly aware of how much I’ll miss those moments once they are gone.

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