Dear Mama Transitioning to Two Kiddos,
Now 6 months out from having had my second baby, I want to write to you today to encourage you, to warn you of some things no one warned me about, and to, hopefully, through it all, bring you joy as you anticipate the arrival of your precious second baby. Because, while you are undoubtedly looking forward to meeting your new little one, you are most likely also experiencing some feelings of trepidation or sadness, too. That’s what I want to help you with today. I want you to know that,
~You will likely mourn the loss of your days as a family of 3 and that is ok! That struggle doesn’t mean you don’t love your second child; it doesn’t mean you aren’t looking forward to your new baby’s arrival. It simply means that you have been enjoying a precious season of life with just your firstborn and you realize that things are about to change forever. I dealt with this pain and sense of loss myself as James’ arrival quickly approached. I loved our days as a family of 3 with just Anna, our firstborn. Those days were precious for me and Owen, because they were our first days as parents with a child of our very own. I will always look back on that season of life with a heart of gratitude as well as a small twinge of sadness, all at the same time. Perhaps you are feeling that way right now, as well. Don’t stuff those feelings down inside or feel guilty for feeling them, mama. That won’t help anybody. Feel those feelings and actually mourn the loss of that sweet season (while also simultaneously understanding that you will soon be entering into another very sweet season). Spend extra time with your firstborn in the weeks leading up to delivery. I made sure to soak up my time at home with just Anna as much as I could before James was born. Instead of having her nap in her crib in the afternoons, I oftentimes rocked her to sleep during those final weeks of my pregnancy and then just held her as she napped. I wanted to remember that feeling of her being my baby and napping on my lap (while baby James kicked at her from the inside 😉 ). It was precious and was the best thing I could have done to make the most of those moments as we prepared for little James’ arrival.
~You will have plenty of love in your heart for both babies, I promise. I remember wondering if I would love James as I did Anna. As my wise husband always reminded me in those moments, “love doesn’t divide, it multiplies”. How very true that is. I don’t love each of my children less now that I have more than one. Likewise, I don’t love Anna more than I do James or feel closer to her than I do him. I love each of my children so very much and nothing – not even the possible addition of more children in the future – will ever change that. My heart continues to grow and the depth of the love therein continues to multiply along with the number of children we have. It’s a beautiful phenomenon!
~You will need to give up some control and loose some expectations when you have your new baby. This new little one will not do things according to the schedule you had set up prior to his or her birth, nor will he or she have the same personality or needs as you may have expected. If I had willingly grasped this earlier on in my postpartum days after James’ birth, I would have saved myself much anxiety, frustration, and, yes, even anger. From day 1, James did not want to sleep on his own in the little cradle as Anna had. In fact, in the early weeks and months of his life, he insisted on sleeping on me during the night. At first, I fought this with tears, frustration, anger, and selfishness. Then my husband spoke words of such wisdom, “James is not Anna and is not meant to be. We can’t expect him to be a great sleeper like she was. He’s his own person. And this is only for a season, anyway. He will not always want to sleep on you [truer words were never spoken – he is now 6 months old and no longer sleeps on me in the night]. For right now, just enjoy cuddling with your new baby boy.” That may not have been what I wanted to hear in that moment, but it was precisely what I needed to hear. I needed to let go of some control and some unrealistic, unfair expectations. James was a newborn, afterall, adjusting to a strange new world. And it was my job, as his mama, to aid him in this adjustment, not to fight it. I needed to comfort, encourage, and love this sweet new baby, not attempt to, from day one, bend him to my will and desires. Along with this,
~You will need to understand that each of your children is completely unique and the new baby is not made to be the exact replication of your first. It would be completely unfair for me to get angry at James for not being Anna 2.0, but that is exactly what I struggled with in those early days as a brand new mama of 2. James, though a far easier baby now, was a far more high-maintenance newborn than his sister ever was, and this frustrated me to no end. On top of the to-be-expected postpartum hormones and middle-of-the-night breastfeeding sessions, I was also dealing with a gassy baby and a baby who did not believe in sleeping on his own. Both of which were situations we had never before encountered with Anna. This angered me until I not only learned to surrender control in that season but to also understand that God did not create James to be another Anna. The world already had one Anna and now the world needed a James. Far be it from me to deprive the world of this unique child by angrily attempting to make him into the image of his sister! Though difficult, never-before-faced challenges were ours during those first few weeks with James, I wouldn’t trade his uniqueness, or the Lord’s creativity in forming him, for anything! Those unexpected challenges we faced with him helped to chisel away some of the dark and ugly selfishness which had – largely unbeknownst to me- been taking up residence in my heart. #motherhoodissanctifying! And, truth be told, I’m so grateful that it is, for I am daily being fashioned more and more into the image of my dear Savior. These growing pains of sanctification are just that – painful. But oh so worth it and oh so beneficial to me and anyone who comes into contact with me! Not the least of which being my dear children.
~You will find your groove, a new normal, and a way to make things work. You really will! I promise you that. I know at first it feels like you will never accomplish more in a day than keeping your two children alive, clothed, and fed. At first you may struggle to keep your eyes open, you may lament your inability to get your two littles to nap at the same time or to have a moment to yourself. But you will find your groove. It will be a new normal and will not look exactly as your rhythms and routines did prior to the birth of your second baby – you just added another human being to your family, after all! But it will work. It will be its own new form of productivity. And it will be wonderful, for a precious new life is gracing this new family culture of yours and that is a beautiful thing!
~You will be so blessed by the love between your two children when you see the light in each of their eyes as they look at each other. You know those big blessings I said were going to be yours as you embark on the addition of a new baby into your family? This is one of those blessings! You will absolutely love the new makeup of your family! There is nothing as precious as the way Anna’s first word upon awakening in the morning is almost always, “Baby?” She wants to know where her baby brother is and, when she finds him, the first thing she does is give him a great big hug and then plant a kiss on his soft, little baby cheek. Oh, and the way he responds to her? Positively priceless. His eyes light up with sheer joy and love each time he sees his sissy. They adore each other and I wouldn’t trade that camaraderie and sibling love that they share for anything! I no longer want to return to those days when it was just Anna – she is so over-the-moon happy to have her baby brother! My daily prayer is that they will always possess a deep and abiding love and affection for one another. It’s such a precious gift, and I don’t want them to ever loose it.
~You will spend alone time with your husband again! You really will! I know it doesn’t feel like it at first, though. It was this yearning to be alone with my husband again that caused me to, at first, so anxiously fight against James’ desire to sleep on me in the night. I missed my husband! I missed cuddling with him in the night, feeling like our bed was our bed. I remember silently crying myself to sleep more times than I care to count, feeling like there was a brick wall between me and Owen. I know it was in my imagination, yet it broke my heart, nevertheless. But, you know what? We have since gotten our bed back, are back to cuddling in the night (when I’m not up nursing! 😉 ), and are back to our schedule of having regular date nights again (thank the good Lord for the gift of grandparents!). Each new child you add to your family will bring a larger workload, more responsibilities, and, yes, more busyness. But you don’t have to -and, may I say, you must not!- allow that to chip away at your time with your husband. Safeguard your marriage first and foremost – still have date nights, still talk alone together, still enjoy each other’s company (catch my drift? 😉 ). Because, after all, a good, strong, solid marriage is the foundation of your family life and is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give to your children. Be intentional about it!
~You will still have time for creative pursuits. Take heart! You are not (at least you shouldn’t be!) giving up all your hobbies, gifts, talents, or creative pursuits when you have another baby. In fact, if it’s any consolation, I didn’t even start my podcast until after my second child was born! He was 3 months old when I started prep work for it and nearly 5 months old when it launched back in April. It can be done! You just have to determine what will work best for you when it comes to fitting creative pursuits into your new life as a mama of two.
~You will have sweet relief from all the overpowering first-time mama fears over every little thing. This is another of those promised blessings you have in store as you have your second baby! You’ll go from stressing out over the smallest little change in your newborn’s pooping schedule, assuming the worst, and mentally packing your bag for the ER, to nonchalantly realizing that these little changes are to be expected and merely resigning yourself to the fact that a blow out may very well be in your future. What a relief, right? Pun not intended! 😉 You will likewise realize that every little feeling of warmth on your baby’s forehead does not equal a raging fever, that allowing your baby to suck on a pacifier that has been dropped on the carpet will not result in your baby’s acquiring the plague, and that, if your baby does not reach all the various milestones at the exact same age your friend’s baby does, it really will be ok! Let me tell you – there is so much refreshing freedom to be had in being a mama the second time around! In addition to this,
~You’ll feel so much more freedom to mother in the way you know to be best for your own unique baby, rather than feeling overwhelmed by all the mama advice and opinions of others that you sometimes tried to balance when you had your first baby. If you were anything like me, you struggled during the first few months of your firstborn’s life, trying to please everyone and balance all the myriad pieces of varied advice you received. The second time around? You’ll just politely smile, accept their recommendation if it will fit your family, let it go if it will not, and move on! It’s awesome!
So, there you have it, Mama! That is what I most want you to know as you approach the arrival of your precious second baby. This is a blessed time. Yes, even in the midst of all the tears, hormones, growing pains, and hardships you may be working through in the midst of it. It’s a blessed time to be embraced, to learn from, to make memories in, and to enjoy. Don’t squander it, mama. Don’t try to control it, to bend it to your every expectation, to fashion your second baby into the likeness of your first. Don’t be heartbroken over the loss of your family as being a family of 3, but rejoice in your family growing into a family of 4. You are blessed, Mama! It is my prayer that you really feel that blessing to the fullest.
Go forth in grace and peace today, dear sweet Mama! You have quite the life-changing, beautiful, crazy adventure awaiting you!
~Your fellow mama of 2