*This is part 6 of a series of posts about what it's like to go from having one baby to two.
More to come!*
Dear Mommy of Baby #2,
Congratulations! A new baby. You get to do this all over again. The snuggles. The itty bum scrunched up and knees pulled close and head on your chest. The firsts. The growth. The smiles and giggles. It's amazing.
Perhaps you finally found out what you were having all those months. Maybe it's the opposite of what you had first and you are SO excited that you get to experience both. Or maybe you are thrilled to have the same gender as your first so they can grow up best buddies and wearing those adorable clothes a second time around. There is so much fun yet to be had. And you can sense this right away.
You are blessed and lucky for sure.
And I know you already know this from reading my other posts and from surviving pregnancy a second time (and who wouldn't consider it survival, right?!), but it's tough. It's a challenge already having a second one, isn't it? For me, the hospital was amazing, scary and tearful. It was nice to be there, all by ourselves, as you get fewer visitors the second time around. It's like even the nurses have a clue that hey, they've raised one already and it is still around to scream and run around about it, so let's leave them be; they've got this. So you have more time to enjoy this little creature to yourselves.
One night my husband and I just sat there, at 7ish, nobody there, just us with our sleepy baby, and I wrote in the baby book and stared at some of the pretty pink gifts we'd been given while my husband snuggled our baby and read a book. What?! After 2 years of toddlerville and nightmares and teething and tantrums, we felt like we were on vacation for a minute there!
It's great in the hospital the second time around. You have done this before so you are familiar with certain things, like the fact that the nurses are too rough giving a bubble bath the first time and that you can speak up about what you want and don't want. I had a MUCH better time the second time with nursing and telling nurses what I needed and didn't need. I advocated for myself. I encourage you to do the same. Don't be shy, you've earned the ability to say what you want after doing this TWICE!
Yet, new mommy, I want you to be prepared that you are going to have such conflicting feelings those first few days. You are going to be sooo elated and happy and want to focus entirely on this new little one who has just made your life feel so whole ... and yet at the same time you will feel distracted and worried, sad even, missing your first so much it hurts. Especially those having C-sections and needing to stay in recovery at the hospital for 4+ days. It's so hard being away from our big babies for that long, especially overnight.
Of course, you know they are fine. My son could care less that week without us. He didn't wake up once in the night calling out our names, my in-laws promised us. He came in bouncing and smiling and in fact eager to LEAVE the hospital after he visited us and his new sister. He was fed, dressed, normal. He had great days at daycare (we kept him on his regular routine for the most part). Our sitter said he talked about his new baby sister a few times, but mostly was playing with his toys and eating snack and taking a nap. Business as usual for our 2-year-old.
He was OK. I was the one who was not.
I cried daily missing my big baby. I felt guilty being here in this hospital, not tucking him in at bed time, not reading him his stories, not making his breakfast, not singing our favorite songs on the ride to daycare. I felt like he was going to be so scarred for life over this transition away from us. I thought he'd be crying and nobody would understand what it was but us and we weren't there to make it better.I teared up EVERY time I talked to him on the phone in the mornings and before bed at night.
I cried every time he left our hospital room (he came to visit every day either in the morning before he went to daycare or in the afternoon/early evening. Keeping his schedule as it normally is helps you to feel like, OK he's fine, he's doing his regular thing). He never stayed long because he was a toddler who had energy to burn and a small hospital room with a newborn wasn't good for that scenario. My husband went to dinner with him almost every night in the hospital cafeteria, which meant I had even less time with him. My husband didn't leave me at all when my son was born, but now with the second it was our first who needed him more at that moment. That's a change from the first to the second.
My mom came to visit when I was sad after talking to my son on the phone. I was SO hormonal and that's where the hormones chose to get me... my first baby. She hugged me and said, "It's OK, he's your baby still, of course you're going to miss him. Even though you have a new baby, he'll always be your baby..." She got it.
Be prepared to be upset in the hospital or even later. It's normal. It does not mean you are unhappy about baby #2. It means you are split in two now. Your heart has grown larger, and with a bigger heart comes bigger space for more emotions. Know that your first is totally fine, really. And it's OK if he misses you and it's OK if he seems totally fine without you. You'll be home SOON.
I loved this picture below of my son and I. I made this huge deal when he came to visit one day that I had a treat for him (peaches from my breakfast!). He loved it. We cuddled and talked about his day. I tried to focus entirely on him, let my family focus on our newborn. My son needed me more at that moment. And perhaps I needed him. This is OK. Your newborn won't notice or care. Your older one will, so it's important to focus on them as you can.
Have some special prizes, presents, treats, etc. at the hospital for him also so when he comes to visit there are things to do and he is also celebrated along with the baby. We were grateful family members also gave him things at the hospital. Giving him a present in the hospital from you will also help you, new mama, to feel less guilty like you did not forget him.
Because I had a first child to focus on, too, and was so busy and preoccupied wondering how he was handling all this, I also felt this strange thing that I still can't explain. The first few days in the hospital I felt SO strange with my new baby. Of course instantly I loooved her. I was happier than ever before having a girl and a boy. Yet, it was like I was not IN love with her yet. How could I be? I didn't know her yet. I hope that makes sense.
Being IN love with our kids is based on knowing their smile, their noises, their looks, staring at their features and little hands and seeing them respond to us when feeding them. It comes from hearing their cries cease when we shush them or rock them. After having had those feelings and experiences with my son for 2 years and now having just met this little girl, I needed more time. I think this was mostly based on the fact that my newborn didn't need a whole lot from me at this moment - eat, sleep, change. Voila. Yet my active toddler was talking to me and needing attention and toys and hugs and a snack, so my focus was directed at him a little bit when he was there at least.
(blurry and exhausted looking... but it's us, happy and content and as one ... smiles... )
It took a matter of a few days to get that IN love feeling with my daughter. This is nothing like post-partum depression or anything like I didn't like her, not at all. It was just this new feeling of, wow, how am I to love someone as much as I love my first child already? Most moms wonder that while pregnant with their second. Will I be able to show love twice as much now? Will doing so make me feel guilty toward my first? The answer is OF COURSE you can love twice as much, a zillion times as much really. And it feels natural, honestly. It comes easily. Those first few days you are just nervous, hormonal, exhausted, and it's all new. So you question and wonder too much.
My advice to you is feel whatever you feel.
It's OK. And let it all sink in with time before you make up your mind about all this baby #2 stuff.
Enjoy your new baby.
Hold her tight.
Take tons of pictures of your first and second meeting for the first time. What an incredible thing!
You have just given your first the BEST gift you could have ever given to him. A friend at work told me that the week before I was due when I cried wondering how this would impact my son. She said, "Angela, really, look at what you are doing for him. You're giving him a best friend for life. What better gift is there?" So true.
Zero in on what's important to you while in the hospital - your new family of 4.
The rest will fall into place later.
That's another post coming soon!
A mom who survived the hospital stay