7 May 2015

First Time vs Second Time Mum

An oldie, but one of my favourite images. 
Now that I’m a Mummy of two, I can’t quite believe how different the experience is, and how different I feel about so many things – in a good way. Before I had Alex, most of my friends who had more than one child told me “it’s easier with the second”, but I didn’t really believe them. After all, how could it be easier with two children, when having one was quite challenging already?

But, I have to admit, they were right, and I have found most things that I struggled with the first time round almost a breeze the second time round. Nothing like knowing how to change a nappy one-handed in ten seconds while using the other hand to do up your other child’s jumper buttons that makes you feel like you’re a pro at this Mum thing.

So below are the 12 things I have found so different or so much easier as a second time Mum:

1. Fear of failure
This is a biggie. As soon as I was handed my little baby bundle Becky, I felt love and relief that she was here, but I was also extraordinarily scared. Scared of not knowing what to do, scared of failing her as a Mum, scared of being inadequate compared to all the other Mums who seemingly knew what to do and were naturals at motherhood, scared of everything, actually.
Three and a half years down the line, that fear didn’t raise its ugly head again, at least not in the same way. I felt a lot more in control, I knew what to do, and I just got on with it without over analysing. Such a good feeling!

2. Feeding
I was so determined to breastfeed Becky – heavily influenced by midwives, parenting literature and generally the prevailing attitude that you’re a crap Mum if you don’t – that I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself. So when we had huge problems with breastfeeding and Becky refused to latch on and was losing more and more weight over the coming first weeks, I, again, felt like a failure, which led to a vicious circle of nerves and fear which fuelled the breastfeeding problems even more. I ended up expressing for nine months, twice a night even long AFTER Becky was sleeping through (so not to lose my milk supply), just to prove that I am not a crap Mum. Prove to who, exactly, though?
So when I was pregnant with Alex, I decided to give myself a break and just to go with the flow. If my baby was going to happily breastfeed, then I would go with that, and if he was not, then I would – happily – go straight onto formula without beating myself up. So? Alex took to the breast straight away and I breastfed him successfully for six months. I’m sure being a lot more relaxed about it helped establish breastfeeding.

3. Cleaning Baby
When we first had Becky, I remember carefully cleaning her with cotton wool and warm water for weeks, convinced that wet wipes were the devil’s work. Fast forward three years, and after a few days or so of lobbing around a bowl and stray cotton wool pads, we swiftly moved on to wet wipes – and Alex was fine. Life’s too short, people!

4. Weighing Baby
Because we had such feeding problems with Becky and she was not regaining her birth weight for the first few weeks, I was taking her to be weighed religiously once a week, for months, anxiously awaiting the verdict whether she had gained or lost a precious ounce. Again, it put such a huge amount of stress and pressure on me, whereas I should have just relaxed.
With Alex, I think I’ve had him weighed about three times since we were discharged from hospital. I can see that he’s thriving, and I don’t need the scales to pass their judgment on my mothering.

5. Sleep positions
Has anyone else ever panicked about their baby turning in their sleep? I was always so paranoid about Becky not lying on her back, even when she was able to move, I spent half the night turning her around in her cot. Needless to say that I don’t do that now with Alex. If he’s ok to get himself in the craziest of sleeping positions (mostly wedged tightly against the cot rail), then he can roll himself back out. And I get to enjoy my sleep.

6. Sleep deprivation
Which brings me to sleepless nights. Becky had colic for the first 12 weeks, which means she screamed her little lungs out nearly 24 / 7 (so much for “a baby sleeps lots”), therefore our sleep pattern was not like your regular newborn baby’s anyway. But sweet heavens, the first time round, the sleep deprivation nearly sent me over the edge. To say I didn’t cope well would be an understatement. Second time round, and I was totally fine. Night feeds or comforting a crying baby didn’t bother me in the slightest. Yes, I was tired, but I was fine, I coped. Very well, actually. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

7. Organisation
As a first time Mummy, Becky’s changing area in her nursery was impeccably organised with military precision. Nappy here, nappy rash creams there, cotton wool and wipes below and an assortment of other paraphernalia all within easy reach and replenished at all times. Now, most of the times I change Alex on the sofa in the living room or on the rug (or anywhere for that matter), fishing for what I need (and finding random objects in the process) out of my changing bag. There’s no time to be that organised!

8. The Poo Diary
Yes, really. With Becky I kept a detailed diary of all her feeds, their duration, her naps, and also the colour and content of her soiled and wet nappies. Oh yes. Funnily enough, I didn’t succumb to this madness with Alex. He poos when he poos, sleeps when he sleeps, feed when he feeds, and I just roll with it.

9. Doing all the baby clubs
From baby yoga to baby massage through baby swimming, baby sign language, baby sensory class to baby singing - I spent most of my maternity leave running from one baby group to another. And let me tell you, they are full of competitive Mums! And I’m not sure neither Becky nor I got that much out of any of them (apart from one or two “normal” Mums who I have stayed good friends with).
This time round, I spent a lot of time just cuddled up with Alex on the couch, bonding with him, and we didn’t do a single class. And when I did go out, it was for MY sake, namely meeting up with like-minded Mummy friends in our local deli for a lunch, coffee and natter. And that was bliss and did all of us a hell of a lot more good!

10. Reading childcare books
It won’t surprise anyone by now that before I had Becky and during her first year, I stocked up on most parenting books going, trying to learn how you’re “supposed to be” a good mother. Errrr, right. Most of them proved utter rubbish anyway. There are no rules, there are no rights or wrongs, clearly. So after a while, I’ve learned to ignore the “experts” and trust my own instincts. So by now I might be winging it, but it feels a lot better!

11. The contents of my baby bag
As a first time Mum you want to be prepared for every eventuality, because heaven forbid, you might get caught out in an unexpected situation. So my baby bag was regularly stuffed to the brim with tons of nappies, packs of wipes, spare clothes, creams, toys, various teething powders, sachets of Calpol, snacks, more toys, drinks pouches, and lots of sticky stuff at the bottom, that I don’t even know what it once was, plus keys, notepads, phone, wallet etc. Basically, I could have gone on a week’s holiday with one single bag load.
Now I’m lucky if I remember to pop out with a spare nappy and a wet wipe (such complacency has indeed led to the occasional incident *ahem*), but I always, always have something with me that the kids can snack on. Now that is one lesson that applies to however many children you have!

12. Comparing milestones
This is another first time Mummy thing. That feeling when you’re little one is not smiling / sitting up / crawling / speaking as fast as your friend’s who is the same age. You start to worry. Is it something I did? Is she “normal”? Is she ok?
By now I have learned that every child truly is unique and will do things in their own time, so there’s no need to panic. Now I’m cherishing every moment and milestone as it comes, when it comes, and don’t worry about what other babies are doing. Very liberating indeed.

So here it is, my list of all the things that are so different as second time Mum. It’s not a definitive one and I’m sure I’ll be adding lots more points to this as we continue on this motherhood journey. After all, Becky will always be my first child, and there will be plenty more firsts to come. But I’m ready for them.
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  1. Love this list! Especially the part about the poo diary - made me laugh out loud because I had something very similar for my son! I was much more relaxed when it came to feeding/nap time etc with my daughter. x #TheList

    1. Thank you Madline, Definitely more relaxed second time round - the diary is gone! :-) x

  2. Had my two 17 months apart and just had to let lots of things go. And it was, amazingly, so much easier second time around. When I think about all the pressure I put myself under with no 1... #TheList

    1. Yes, I think there is such a huge amount of external pressure how we're supposed to be like as Mums, but also so much pressure that we put on ourselves. I found it really liberating to know my own mind the second time round and to just listen to myself. x

  3. Hi,
    I didn't find having my second child easier but I can see where you're coming from with all your points and it was nice to read this from a different perspective.
    I never quite got use to sleep deprivation though ��

    1. That's so interesting how everyone makes really different and truly unique experiences. Thank you for commenting! x

  4. Oh I hope you are right and its easier second time round! I think I'll at least be a bit less stressed by the time we have a second one and surely everything we've gone through with this one will leave us a little more prepared :)

    1. Sounds like you didn't have a particularly easy time first time round, just like us. I'm sure things will be much easier in many respects - of course a lot depends also on the actual needs and character of the baby - because you will be a lot more confident about certain things and know what to expect to a degree. I definitely found it much easier, Thanks for commenting!

  5. It's so true, I was the same way. It's so much easier because you have confidence that you know what to do as a mom. I kept a poo diary with my first born too lol I was so sleep deprived I couldn't' remember what times he feed/pooed so I'd write it all down. That didn't happen with the next two! lovely post hun #brilliantblogposts x

    1. Aw, thank you! It's funny the things we do as first time Mums, it's such a shock to the system, isn't it? Definitely more of a "versed parent" the second time round, and no need for a poo diary, thank goodness! :-) x

  6. Great post! Planning to have a #2 but not quite there yet. Feeling slightly more comfortable with the thought of it after reading this. Thank you! #brillblogposts

    1. Ah, that's brilliant, I'm so pleased. Honestly, I can only recommend the second one. It's lovely and your life is already adapted to kids, so it's not such a shock to the system, which - I feel - makes so many things a lot easier.

  7. Oh gosh, R is nearly 3 and I'm still not there with having a 2nd!! Lovely post and I'm glad I wasn't the only one who had issues with wet wipes (I also generally didn't want to put in water as his little skin was so dry!!) Great post xx Thanks for linking up to #TheList xx

  8. Fab post, I found 2nd time motherhood easier really, I was more laid back but having a good birth made a huge difference and the support of family close by. Sleep deprivation is horrendous, even now as they are older. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

    1. Yes, having a good birth experience is key, really,and I do believe it sets you up in a way. I had a horrendous first birth experience but a lovely second, and I think things just went much better after that. x

  9. This is a great list and one I will share with my friends. Just wait until 4th time around... you forget you even have a baby... lol #brilliantblogposts

    1. Haha, yes, I can imagine! Fourth time round, and you're an absolute pro! Thanks for commenting and sharing! x

  10. It really is so different the second time around isn't it. While both mine are very similar I had changed so much the second time and more relaxed and chilled out. Helps loads. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme


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