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What Do You Do Differently With Baby #2?

on August 9 | in Motherhood | by | with 18 Comments

Hey, cruncharoos, Daddypotamus here. With 4-6 weeks until Babypotamus makes his/her grand entrance, I’m starting to wonder how this one will be different. The mystery’s gone… I know what having a baby at home LOOKS like. And I’m starting to vividly remember the challenges of getting our Katie girl to sleep. Rookie mistakes and all. But man, getting her to sleep was brutal!

Sleep rituals

With Babypotamus, we know we’ll do some things differently. There will be no walking the baby to sleep! Mark it down. For the love of all things holy, DO NOT get your baby in the habit of depending on walking to sleep. I can’t think of a more tortuous night time ritual. At the time, we didn’t know any better. All we knew is that we wanted her to go to sleep, and carrying her while walking and patting her on the bottom and making shushing sounds was what worked first.

But by month #2 of re-walking her to sleep several times a night, we were both at our wit’s end. Heather was so sleep deprived she would smack herself into door frames from time to time. It barely seemed to register. PLEASE. NOT. AGAIN.

So, hopefully we will be wiser about which sleep rituals to go with, but now there is new territory: Co-sleeping as a family of four. Will the baby wake up Katie? Will Katie wake up the baby? Will any of us get a good night’s sleep? I’m not going to answer this one, but I’m optimistic.

Breastfeeding

Tandem nursing will definitely different experience for Heather, but I’m not sure what, if anything, I can do to help out in this department. I don’t know that this will be much of a problem… but I really DO feel sorry for parents of twins or triplets or more. I can only imagine what it must be like to have so many hungry mouths to feed.

Date nights?

Gigi has been a godsend in more than one area. But with a newborn, watching the kids just won’t be an option until the baby’s nursing schedule spans out a bit. And when does that even happen? I can’t remember. So while I don’t want to curse us, I’m guessing our date nights for the next few months will consist of sneaking off to the spare bedroom to watch a movie on the laptop – private enough to get some time alone but close enough for Heather to “be the boob.”

Getting out of the house

Even though the baby will be fine sleeping and nursing most of the time, making sure Katie has a life will be an ever-increasing priority. Trips to the park, shopping, playdates, etc. On some level, I think it’s everyone’s temptation to focus on the baby to the detriment of the older sibling(s). So our challenge will be loving on Katie so much that her heart is always full, no matter how much coddling and attention Babypotamus gets.

One of my favorite moments comes right after Katie has been corrected. She’s so quick to look at me again with admiration and love. She doesn’t feel ashamed or emotionally separated from me. So she and I are hugging and cuddling and tickling very shortly after. I know that comes from the amount of love she constantly receives from us. Her heart is full, and she knows she’s loved. So when we correct her, it’s never a question of whether she’s still loved or accepted. We’ve made it our goal to ALWAYS communicate those things. So it becomes a matter of making sure she still gets that attention. I’ve pretty much settled it in my heart that whenever I see the baby getting lots of attention, I will be holding and loving on Katie so she’s never stuck watching and wishing she could have what Babypotamus gets.

Getting rest

With one child, I can take Katie to Starbucks, the mall, the park, or the dog park for a while and give Mommy a much needed break. Giving breaks has become one of the ways we love on each other. But with a newborn, will I still be able to give her much of a break? I think it’s possible, but I could use your help.

My question to you is…

The baby’s not here yet, and I have no idea how this all fleshes out in the real world. God is faithful to answer our earnest prayers. So I’m confident we can do this. But you have all been such an awesome community of friends that I thought I’d put the question to you. You know, in case I have a blindspot (which we all know, of course, I do not).

What did you find to be the biggest difference in handling baby #2? Or if you’re working on #2, what are you planning on doing differently? But most importantly, what did your husbands do to that was most meaningful and/or supportive during this transition time? Or what do you wish they had done?

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18 Responses to What Do You Do Differently With Baby #2?

  1. Heather says:

    Not to pile things on here, but I finally started reading my copy of Diaper Free Baby last night. Elimination Communication with a newborn? Now THAT will be different if I am brave enough to try it. But can you imagine getting to skip changing poopy toddler diapers? Newborn poop I don’t mind, but toddlers are a totally different story!

  2. Marie says:

    I suggest that you take some time to write a letter right after the baby is born. Record some of the precious details that your wife is likely to forget in the hormonal haze of those first few days. Tell her that you are proud of her and that you love her. Might as well increase your bond while she’s got all that oxytocin flowing through her body!

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks, Marie. Great idea. I kept getting onto Heather when Katie was a baby, trying to get her to journal things she’d wish she remembered later. Guess doing it myself makes more sense. I’ll have more energy. Maybe I can ask her questions and video tape her responses too. That would be probably the best solution.

  3. Des says:

    it’s definitely more time consuming, that’s for sure. But you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll fall into a routine. As far as the hubby thing goes, Just REALLY take care of Katie and that will be such a help to Heather, especially in the beginning. You give Katie baths, cut her food, get her a drink (obviously when you aren’t working). But just being a big help with Katie will go a LONG ways and is way more helpful than trying to help with the new one.

  4. Rena says:

    With my second I discoverd nursing “On-the-go” whereas with the first every feeding revolved around quiet time together in the nursery. I also had the oldest in the chair with me while feeding number two. It became more of a family thing VS mommy/child one on one. Bedtime was the biggest juggling in the beginning. I remember struggling with who first, how etc….But I learned quickly that a toddler can sleep thru so much more than a newborn. So I stopped stressing about waking #1 with a crying baby!

  5. Tiffany says:

    With baby #2 I got really bad post partum depression. I was fine for 5+ weeks and then woke up one morning and someone had flipped the crazy switch. I knew I could call my husband at any point during the day and say come home now, and he would drop everything and literally run to the car if need be. Don’t know if your work situation is that accommodating, but for many people even if it is they don’t think they need to be that on top of it, but you really really do. The PPD really hit us by surprise because everything was just fine with baby #1. So that was huge.

    But like others have said, doing as much as possible of the non-newborn care is so helpful. (loading the dishwasher, feeding a toddler, switching the laundry). Something my father in law does when ever we visit or they visit and I am nursing is bring me a glass of water. I highly recommend that as a way to help the new mama. :)

    (oh and I hear Heather likes flowers ;-) )

  6. Mae says:

    Ok, because I know you two are big kids and can take it, I’m gonna ask you this-
    Why are you sharing the bed with Katie after the baby comes? From Dr. Sears, to Mothering magazine, I’ve read this this is one of the big “no-no’s” of co-sleeping. It’s on the list with “don’t co-sleep if you or your partner smokes or drinks or are taking prescription drugs.” I am NOT saying that it is wrong but this is the first thing that you’ve written about that has rocked my world. If introducing a new family member into the family bed isn’t the natural milestone in which to transition Katie, what is? I guess I just don’t see how the benefits of keeping Katie in your bed can outweigh the benefits for Heather and the new baby.

    ON ANOTHER NOTE
    Daniel, I think you’re already doing something that is VERY crucial when entering a new stage [or universe in this case!] with your family- setting realistic expectations before-hand. So for that, I commend you! And with our number two I’ve already told Eamon that his help with Lily is going to be the best thing he can do for the four of us ;]

    • Heather says:

      Mae – That’s a good question. The answer is that Katie is a very connected little person when it comes to her sleep habits. I often sleep with one hand touching her and if she wakes up without that contact she’ll say “Mommy, you’re not holding me.” When we read books in which kids go to their own beds she insists that she wants to hold them, because in her world sleeping is something that is done with the people you love.

      Not all kids feel this way, but since she does I plan to continue sleeping with her. However, we have certain safety precautions set up. Daniel and I will sleep in the middle with Katie on the outside of Daniel with a safety rail on the outside of Katie. The baby will sleep on the outside of me in the co-sleeper unless he/she is nursing. There is no chance that Katie will be able to accidentally kick or hit the baby when she’s asleep.

      When Katie was a newborn I had a separate bed I could go to if she was keeping Daniel up. After all, he had to go to work the next day to support our family and he needed his sleep. We have the same setup this time around, so there will be times when Daniel will be nighttime-parenting Katie while I do the same for our infant. Sometimes people criticize us for this because they think it means we are not putting our marriage first. All I can say is that it works for us and our marriage is not perfect but it is healthy and we’re good with that.

      My eventual plan is to transition both of my children to a bed together. At around 18 months it is safe for a toddler to sleep with an older sibling. If Katie is still napping by that time I will begin by letting them take naps together and then eventually have them in their own full-sized bed. When I was growing up my sis and I had separate rooms but we preferred to share a bed at night (sadly, I am the older sis but I was the scaredy cat), so this approach makes sense to me.

      • Mae says:

        Thanks for the response, Heather!
        That all really makes sense. I also realized you guys probably have a bigger bed than we do. We are sleeping on the mattress of a pull out couch [not *quite* a queen] so the thought of an addition to our bed is a little bit overwhelming!

        I understand Katie’s personality perfectly as we are learning lily is the same way over these past few weeks.
        We also have a twin bed in our second room ["lily's room"] for that reason too. But I’ve never heard of siblings sleeping together on purpose, LOL! When my three sisters and I were struggling when we were kids, we all pilled in one queen sized bed for quite some time! In a trailor with no ac! Ha! Summers were awful but winters were JUUUUUST fine ;]
        That all makes a little more sense now!

        Thanks for taking the time to explain it all

  7. Tiffany says:

    Heather- my girls love to sleep together. It wasn’t really our intention to do that actually, but they sleep so much better when they do. We have bunk beds, which are super fun during the day, but the top one doesn’t get used much at night. :) Although I want to get my middle one out of pull ups at night which will probably mean a few weeks of wetness, so I think I am going to insist big sister sleep in her own bed during that time for her own well being. :)

  8. Linda says:

    My husband was incredibly helpful when #2 arrived. With #1, he gave him baths, made sure that he was fed and cleaned up after meals, bedtime, etc. He didn’t do much with #2 because I nursed #2, but he did make a deal with me that as long as I breastfed (I had to formula feed with #1), that he would change his diapers. And of course this was only on his days off and at night, but it was a MAJOR help with #2. And it also still gave him a sense of responsibility with #2.

    I agree with Des. Just make sure that you are incredibly helpful with Katie and the household chores, and that will be a major help to Heather.

  9. dianthe says:

    the only advice i can give you for #2 is to be prepared for anything! Myles is SO different than Sydney! they are complete opposites – Sydney was a terrible sleeper and she was a total night owl (like her mama!) – Myles is a great sleeper and actually takes naps during the day! i can count the number of times Sydney spit up, Myles spit up every single time he ate – it’s just now tapered off in the last few weeks

    i had a couple of issues going from 1 to 2 – i also had some baby blues that hit me out of nowhere – i was completely unprepared because i didn’t have them with Sydney – and despite the fact that my husband was home on maternity leave for 12 (long) weeks, i had a difficult time accepting his help even though i needed it

    we also still occasionally co-sleep with all 4 of us in the bed – we’ve been trying to transition Sydney to her bed for over a year now – some nights she makes it through the night and some nights she wanders into our room in the middle of the night – it’s a tight fit, but we make it work – sometimes Kelley takes Sydney and they go sleep on the couch, sometimes she sleeps on Kelley’s chest and sometimes she snuggles up behind me with Myles on my other side – i know it sounds crazy, but it works for us

    just like everything else baby-related, just be prepared to go with the flow – trust your instincts and it’ll all work out – at least that’s what i keep telling myself – lol!!!

  10. Katy says:

    This was a great topic…and I love your blog (new reader!). I just had my second child 6 weeks ago. I felt so similarly strongly about making sure my son never felt left out, or was wishing for the love the baby got. But I found I couldn’t prevent it–people come to visit and forget to acknowledge him, or the baby will be screaming and I am distracted when he is showing me a drawing, or something. That has been so hard for me–the hardest part, by far…the feeling of not being able to give both children all that they need. Tandem nursing is lovely because it is one of the times I feel like they are both satisfied and feeling loved and close.
    Thanks for sharing, I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. Also am about to go submit my birth story. Blessings to your family.

    • Heather says:

      Katy – It’s great to “meet” another mom in the same season of life as me. My son is 11 weeks old now (Wow, I had to go check that on a calendar. How did it go by so fast?), and although the first few weeks of tandem nursing were very rough for me, I am SO GLAD I stuck with it. Like you, it provides a rare opportunity for nurture during a time where everyone is learning a new rhythm.

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