The Second Baby


The Second Baby | Duluth Moms Blog{Photo credit: Paper Birch Studios}

Having my first baby was definitely life changing. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life. I was a changed woman forever. I was meant to be a mom. Something I had dreamed of since I was a little girl had finally come true! He arrived and he was absolutely perfect. Maternity leave was amazing! Plenty of snuggles and quality time together. 

When we welcomed our second baby, it was just as amazing as the first time around. She stole our hearts from the very beginning and I remember thanking God the moment she was born to have given us a handsome boy and then a very beautiful little girl. Who could ask for anything more perfect?

After settling in with baby number two at home, I began to realize that there were so many things about having a second child that I never thought about. Now that she was here there were definitely different challenges than the first time around. I had already felt robbed of time with my toddler due to all the morning sickness and other pregnancy discomforts during the pregnancy. The biggest surprise to me… all the guilt and anxiety that I would feel while trying to maintain my relationship with my son while trying to soak in every moment with my newborn. 

I had guilt for not spending more time with my son since the baby had arrived. Guilt for sending him to daycare. Guilt for not holding the baby often enough. Anxiety about holding her too much and not getting anything done around the house. Guilt for putting her to bed instead of her older brother like I used to do. Guilt for holding her instead of sleeping. The list goes on and on!

I constantly thought about what my toddler was thinking. Would his feelings be hurt that he wasn’t getting all the attention now? Would he still love me just as much as he did before? Would he love his brand new little sister? I also worried about the baby. Would she get the same bonding time with me since I also have a toddler? Would she get less attention? Will she go deaf from me yelling at her brother all the time?

All these questions flooded my mind day and night. I wanted to just snuggle, smell and enjoy my new baby, but instead I was consumed by anxiety about everything. The night I put my son to bed and he crawled up into my lap to read a story, I completely lost it thinking to myself, “How on earth did he get so big? Did I miss the last three years?” I used to use this rocking chair to rock him when he was a itty bitty baby. Ugh…

It took me a couple of weeks and one life changing trip to my pediatrician’s office to realize that what I was experiencing was completely normal. Anxiety and feelings of guilt are common among new moms. Especially those with other children at home. All these feelings can be overwhelming and hard to manage. I wasn’t alone. Caring for an infant is a lot of work, but also having a toddler in the mix makes it all the more challenging. 

I remember my daughter’s two-week checkup vividly. I registered and waited for her name to be called. I had been crying most of the morning. I wasn’t exactly sure why I was crying… I just was. I was so excited to take her to the doctor to see how much she had grown. (Even though secretly I wish I could figure out a way to keep her little forever…) When the doctor came in she greeted me with a smile, as she always did. She started examining the baby as she was telling me just how perfect she was.

There was a little small talk and then she looked up at me. She paused for a moment before she said, “Let’s talk about you for a minute mama. You know that paperwork you just filled out in the waiting room? Let’s talk about that. Are you ok?”

I paused and my first reaction was to blurt out… “I’m great! I’m doing just fine!” After all, I had done this once before. I was an expert. Or so I thought.

She looked at me and asked me once again, “Kristina, are you really ok? Because your score would say otherwise?”

I immediately burst out crying. I’m talking like the really big, I-can-barely-breath-right-now, ugly cry. I told her about all my worries, my anxiety, my lack of sleep and all the crying I had been doing. She was not at all surprised. We talked for over an hour and I’m pretty sure she spent her entire lunch break with me and may have even moved another appointment. She lovingly rocked my baby while I soaked through several Kleenexes and told her about my last couple of weeks. 

The Second Baby | Duluth Moms Blog

It really hit me when she asked if I was familiar with the baby blues. I immediately started thinking…no…not me.

I don’t have that.

There’s no way.

She looked me in the eye and said my test score said otherwise. I burst out in tears again. We had a great talk about how “normal” this was and we chatted about what I could try to make it better. I swore I would try everything she had listed and report back to her.

Her asking me the simple question of how I was doing was exactly what I needed that day. It made me realize that all my anxiety about being a good mom and trying to balance a toddler (almost three) and an infant (two weeks) was not easy and I would not be perfect at it, but I could do it with a little more grace. Be a little easier on myself, make a little more time for me, even if just a few minutes a day like showering or putting on fresh clothes. Heck even doing my make up again or calling a girlfriend to chat! I realized I was definitely experiencing a slump I had never felt before.

When I got home, I took a look at my list. I realized we talked more about me at the baby’s appointment than the baby herself. I started to feel guilty again but then I stopped myself. I was thankful my pediatrician took the time to help me and guide me in the right direction. For this conversation I will be forever grateful as it allowed me to enjoy my new baby while still loving up on my adorable toddler. It taught me that feeling guilt and anxiety about being a mom is completely natural. You shouldn’t ignore the feelings, but you also shouldn’t let them consume you. 

I quietly reviewed the list:

* Sit outside in the sunlight once a day
* Try to go for a daily walk
* Go out with a girlfriend
* Shower daily
* Do one thing for yourself everyday
* Vitamin D, Vitamin D, Vitamin D
* Try one counseling session if not better in a week

I could do this, I thought. I’ve got this.

Later that day when my husband got home he asked how my day was. Again, I broke down as he pulled me in for a big bear hug and asked how he could help. He reminded me of how good of a mother I was. He told me I was doing a great job. I told him about what the doctor had said. I have to admit, I even had guilt about him and how he was feeling about me being such a wreck all the time. Guilt about guilt? Yeah… it’s a thing!

I showed him the list and he was very supportive. He told me, “You can do this hun. You’re going to be ok. We will be ok.” He reminded me to not be so hard on myself all the time. I agreed that I was, but that I’d try to get better. Easier said than done. 

A few weeks passed, I had tried almost everything on the list and I was finally starting to feel like myself again. I was enjoying my baby and my toddler. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments of guilt, but they did not overcome me like before. My emotions and hormones no longer consumed me. I took it one day at a time as I soaked in my baby snuggles and bedtime stories with my toddler. I was finally feeling grounded again. These fabulous little people, they needed me more than anything! 

Looking back, it was a big adjustment going from one baby to two, but it is so incredibly worth it! I thought my first born taught me a lot about myself, but my second born did so even more! My son’s love for his little sister is something that is so incredibly amazing to see. The bond that they will have as brother and sister for an entire lifetime is in the making and I’m able to watch the whole thing unfold!

To any mama reading this that is struggling with the baby blues or PPD, I’m here to remind you that it’s ok to crave a little you time. It’s ok to shower, change yourself and actually brush your teeth. It’s ok to lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes if you need to. When the emotions run strong, take a breath. You will not only get through this… you will conquer it! Being a mom is sometimes not easy, but it is so rewarding. If you’re feeling this way, talk to someone so you can enjoy your baby snuggles and your toddler snuggles, too! Each moment is so precious and should be enjoyed to its fullest potential. No time should ever be wasted for it is better too precious. 

I’m so thankful for my children and the pure joy they have brought to my life. I also cannot thank my pediatrician enough for her sound advice and kind words that day when I needed them the most! Being a mom of two is challenging but so rewarding! 

The Second Baby | Duluth Moms Blog