One year. 365 days. 525,600 minutes. And two girls.
One year ago, on a night that was similarly dark and similarly cold and similarly crackled with the sound of fireworks leftover from Bonfire Night, my husband Matt and I took a taxi home from the hospital with our baby. Our new baby. Our daughter Lizzie’s little sister — our daughter Juliet.
What is it like, to do it all over again, to have another baby? This time around I felt more prepared. I knew how to breastfeed. Nappies? No problem! Bathing? A cinch. And yet, now there were two. Two little people who wanted my attention. Two little people who sometimes needed two completely different things now — this minute. I couldn’t devote my full attention to the baby and marvel at her every movement. I couldn’t devote my full attention to my two-year-old and play all the games, read all the books, do all the things.
Juliet has fewer blog entries, less in her baby book. But she is no less loved than her older sister.
The first few times I took the girls out all by myself, I felt like some sort of hero. “Look at me, world!” I wanted to shout, “Look at me braving the unknown, with not one but TWO children. See this baby? She could cry at any moment! See this toddler? She could cry, too. There might be diaper changes! They might want to eat! They might both fall asleep in the stroller on the way home, eliminating any chance of naptime!”
I marveled at other parents, thinking that they made it look so easy. Did they feel as exhausted as I did? Did their house look like a rubbish tip, too? Look at that mom, she has four kids. My mom had six. How?
And then time passed. We started to develop a rhythm to our days. I’d read books to Lizzie when Juliet wanted to breastfeed. We’d stop off at the library or Mothercare whenever we went to city centre to give the baby a top up before we came home. I felt like I healed physically much quicker after this birth. I felt tired, yes, but not the deep, tearfully mind-numbing exhaustion of the first few weeks with Elizabeth.
Now that my daughter is two months old, it's becoming more and more tempting to post about poop.
I had to get over the guilt of not being able to tailor my days to Juliet’s every whim. When Lizzie was a baby, her needs defined our schedule. Juliet was born into a ready-made family, without, for example, the luxury of a morning nap every day in her crib. She came along to the toddler groups because it’s easier to slot a baby into a toddler session than it is to fit an active two-year-old in with a big group of babies. Sometimes she napped in the stroller or in the wrap.
And you know what? She survived. She thrived. She’s happy and funny and cheeky and sweet. Maybe she’s more adaptable because of it.
Maybe we all are.
Comments on Surprise: life with two kids is easier than I thought it would be
Thanks for the post! I am constantly saying how much of a better parent and person my 2nd child has made me. I was worried as how to handle 2… now I do feel quite super mum as I find it easy enough. The mistakes I made with my first I have been able to do over, the most significant not being able to breastfeed my first and persevering to breastfeed my second – and loving it!
I am ready to power on to 3 when my body will allow. I do find outings harder to organise and co-ordinate and we have good days and bad days. However, I have established a good routine with the boys now and I needed this for myself as I am disorganised as anything usually.
2 children has made me enjoy raising them all the more & helped to reaffirm that I am rocking this parenting thing 🙂
“we have good days and bad days”–so true! Fortunately the good ones definitely outnumber the bad.
This is such a perfectly-timed post for me as we’re just thinking about trying for baby #2, and if we’re successful straight away then the age gap will be about 2 years. I’ve been thinking a lot about just *how* it will work. How will I devote both children all the time they deserve? I look at families with 2+ kids and just marvel, and don’t get me started on the awe I feel at parents with twins or triplets!
I guess, though, people just cope. My mum (4 kids) told me recently that she felt the biggest jump going from 2 to 3 children, though I guess that’s different for everyone.
This is all very rambly. I just wanted to say thanks, great post, and I feel reassured. 🙂
Same exact boat here! This post was wonderfully encouraging. I think about those first months with my baby and how I just barely felt like I was surviving, and now it all seems so easy to trying to keep up with my 14 month old climbing on everything in sight. I think we can handle two littles, but then my toddler has a meltdown in public and I doubt myself. I think I’ll have a new appreciation for those trying but relatively quiet newborn months now. Happy conceiving 😉
My sister tells me that for her, the biggest jump was 1-2 because by the time number 3 came along, they already had the routines in place for caring for more than one child. I’m hoping that holds true for me because I still think I want to have a third child at some point…
Thank you so much for this post! I just can’t count the number of times I said “oh, it is the same for me” while I was reading your post. Starting with the fact that my husband’s name is also Mat (Mateo), my first daugter’s name starts with an L (Lucy) and she is exactrly two years old, and my next son’s name -who will be born next April – is Julian (quite similar to Juliet, isn’t it?).
I find myself doing the same questions and all of them start with HOW. How am I going to breastfeed and take my daughter to the toilet if she says she needs to go? How am I going to give this second kid the same amount and quality of time I devoted to Lucy when she was born? How? How? And how can I do to take more or less the same amount of pictures of my growing tummy? Impossible. But well, we all had brothers or sisters and became great people too, din’t we?
Thanks again and let me hear more about your life with two kids!
Don’t even get me started on the unequal status of their baby books… And as for “how”–I think, especially early on, you get really really good at doing things one handed. 🙂
Thank you so much for the reassurance! My daughter is 18 months and my husband and I have felt the return of baby fever, but my fear of being a stay at home mom to two has held us back from pulling the goalie 🙂
“I felt tired, yes, but not the deep, tearfully mind-numbing exhaustion of the first few weeks with Elizabeth.” Oh yes. I completely agree… Having two was definitely a lot easier than just one… with two kids, they can keep each other busy, and they learn how to share things (well…. if theyre up to sharing hahaha), among other things. Raising my daughter was a LOT easier, and all the mistakes I made with my son as a baby, I learned how to avoid those with my daughter. I wasnt so sleep-deprived with her, like I was with my son. I love having two kids.
Thank you so much for sharing this. There’s been discussion in our house about baby #2 (our first daughter just turned 1 year) so this is very comforting to read.
me too! I have found having two so, so much easier & even much more enjoyable. In fact I was really uncertain about having a second, but having had a second, I am gung-ho for a third!
Perfect timing. We’ve been thinking about having baby #2 and my biggest concern was not being able to devote 100% of my time to the new baby. Thanks for this article.
I had that “ah ha” moment when I (insanely?) managed to take three kids on a full-fledged grocery shopping trip by myself.
We arrived home, safe and relatively sane, with all groceries. I felt unstoppable. 🙂
Thank you!!! Great article!!
My biggest fear is that, frankly, I didn’t enjoy the first year with my son much at all. People keep/kept saying “oh, its so much harder having a toddler!” but i call bull on that b/c I like having a walking, communicating, somewhat predictable 15 months old sooooo much better than the lump of crying baby that is a newborn!
I’m petrified of doing the first year all over again – but I really want my son to have a sibling. I love my siblings to death and I want that so much for him too.
I’m so happy to have just seen this. I was just writing about how I felt like the worst mother EVER when my youngest baby was born. I feel like it took a big toll on how well we bonded with each other. :- Did you notice any issues bonding with your youngest baby?
I think bonding as closely with my second child was less instantaneous. I felt like my emotions weren’t as intense after her birth than with her sister–maybe because the first time around I was experiencing this huge shift from “just me” to “mom” and everything was very very new, and the second time I was of course excited, but more knowledgeable and also had more expectations for how things “should” go, based on how they’d gone before. We bonded, yes, but she just sort of fit into our family like she’d always been there instead of the electrical thunderclap that I was expecting because I’d experienced it the first time around.
Thank you so, so much for your honesty here. I have had such difficulty bonding this time around and I feel such shame for it. I put up my first baby for adoption so I bonded but didn’t really have the chance for much. The first baby I planned to keep was amazing. I was so excited and couldn’t stop thinking about her. Then with my last baby – it just hasn’t been that head over heels, floating in the clouds kind of love. I feel horribly guilty for it. I’d never admit it to anyone I know. It is such a great feeling to know I’m not the only one and that there are women who can relate on this same level.
Thanks for this confidence-boosting post! I am feeling nervous about the arrival of my second child, due in early May. My kids will be 18-months apart. I’m mostly worried that I’ll never be organized enough to leave the house with two kids in tow. Here’s hoping that me and my kids are adaptable!
This article rings so true. I felt like a hero the first time I managed to take both kids to Target. I worry constantly that my younger will be less intelligent because she doesn’t get read to nearly as often as her older brother. I also worry I have forced both of them to grow up too fast. A baby is coming? Bottles and diapers are gone NOW.
Depending on how much older, just read the books to both of them, staying at the older kid’s level. I’m younger by 5 and 7 years and while my parents probably read ‘age appropriate’ material to me, they also read things to my older siblings and I listed too. I remember in particular that my mom read “The Hobbit” aloud when I was about 4 (and my siblings 9 and 11), and while I didn’t totally get it, I loved it.
I actually ended up reading earlier and quicker than my siblings because I wanted to keep up, so I really don’t think you need to worry about that!
I could read when I went to school and was incredibly bored in places. So my parents decided to NOT teach my brother (younger than me by two years an a bit) anything in that direction (not that they’d been teaching me, just answering the questions I asked) and guess what? I taugh him (some basics).
I’d totally second that younger children will even learn some things FASTER simply because they’re trying to keep up and because they’re exposed to stuff that’s meant for the older sib(s).
Our experiences are so similar. I have 2 daughters, 1 and 3.5. Im a better mother now than I was with just 1. Thanks for sharing!
I needed this post. I’m due with baby number 2 in a month and while I sort of know it will work out (I mean, I’m certainly not the first person to have more than one kid), I still worry about making sure they both have everything they need.
Thanks so much for writing this. I personally cannot wait for #2 and #3 because I feel like my life will get a whole heck of a lot easier.
We’ve been thinking of baby #2 and while it’s a little intimidating, I have to think it won’t be nearly as life-changing, world-turning-upside-down as it was going from being just a couple to being parents. As enormous as that change was, we handled that better than I ever imagined…we’ll handle the next one(s) too 🙂
I find myself thinking about #3 all the time (like every single goddamn day if I’m being honest) even though #2 is just 8 months. It’s an insane thought for many reasons; money, space, we would need a new car, back to money, etc etc. But the thought certainly does persist.
My little is Juliet too! She’s an only right now and at 7 months I just can’t imagine having another. My husband would like two children and this post has given me a bit of hope that it is possible. Thank you!
Excellent taste in names! 🙂
Ah! You inspire me! I’m having my second girl in March and I often wonder how it will be with two now. Thank you for sharing. I really needed this boost.
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