Thank you, Kaleigh!
Images shared from Kaleigh Pimble
1. How did you try to prepare yourself before baby number 2 arrived? I tried very hard to enjoy my pregnancy, knowing that life would get substantially busier and more difficult once baby number two came. Otherwise, I just sort of went with the flow.
2. How did you try to prepare your first child for his little sibling?
First, my husband and I kept our conversations about having a new sibling positive and exciting. My oldest takes everything in, so any concerns we had about transitioning, we discussed out of earshot from my daughter. I am the oldest of two, so I talked to her about how much I loved having auntie as my “little” sister. Katherine, my oldest, adores her aunt, and so I think that helped to get her excited.
We read the book “I’m a Big Sister,” by Ronne Randall and Kristina Stephenson. I loved it because it addresses potential concerns toddlers might have, but has a very positive tone. The big sister in the books helps her parents but also enjoys some of the benefits of being older. I think it helped frame the way I wanted to incorporate Katherine into the different things I would have to do with her little sister. We changed the name of the main character to my daughter’s name, and that got her pretty excited too!
We called the baby by her name (once we picked one) and talked about her with my toddler. She gave my belly kisses and talked to her baby sister. It was a nice transition because she felt like Molly was a part of our family even while in my belly, she was excited for her to get here!
3. What are some of the biggest changes with going from one to two children? First, I think the biggest challenge going from one to two is to watch how I word things. Inevitably, my two year old picks the moment when her baby sister is screaming, and I am trying to settle her, to ask me to help her with something or read her a book. In my head, I’m thinking, “really kid? Right now?!” I have to remind myself that she has no comprehension of what I might be going through. Instead of saying the thoughts in my head, I ask her to describe the pictures in the book to me. Although there are times when I have to tell her that Molly needs something at the moment, I try not to constantly blame her baby sister for why I can’t sit down and do a puzzle with her at that exact second.
Another challenge I have faced is just having even less time to myself. It is somewhat easier to remind myself that the intensity of the first year or so passes, but there are days when everyone is crying/whining at the same time and, I just want five seconds of silence that I have to breathe deep and jump in feet first.
4. What has surprised you about being a parent to two? How complete I feel. I always wanted more than one child. I am completely in love with my first child, and I was so nervous about having more than one and “splitting the love.” I remember bringing home Molly. We strapped both girls into their car seats and I remember looking into my full backseat, thinking that everything was perfect. I felt like we were the family we were supposed to be. I don’t want to say that I felt something was missing when it was just my oldest, but after my youngest was born, I realized that something had been missing, and she filled a void that I didn’t even know existed.
I have also been surprised at how much confidence I feel as a second time mom. I feel like I’ve hit my stride. I’ve done the newborn stage before, so I am much more confident with my second baby.
I guess I am surprised that it is still my toddler that makes be question my skills as a mother, mostly because I have never been through this stage before.
5. What are some of the greatest things about adding another one into the mix, making two better than one? Everything! I adore the way my kids interact. Katherine likes to hold Molly. She gives her kisses. She shows her how to play with her toys. Katherine can get belly laughs out of Molly easier than anyone else. I can see how Molly already looks up to her big sister. It is also nice because Katherine loves to entertain Molly. If Molly starts to cry, Katherine will sing to her so settle her, and it works!
6. What did you do with your first child while you were in the hospital with baby number 2? She stayed with my parents for the first night. Molly was born in the evening, so my husband stayed with me that night. The second night in the hospital, my husband went home with Katherine, so she could have some sense of normalcy. I was so nervous to stay alone in the hospital with Molly, but it was very empowering.
7. What is your advice for moms who are going to have a second child?
Be kind to yourself. Some days you might want to pull your hair out. You will wonder if you gave your oldest enough attention, and you will feel guilty that the baby had to cry because her big sister needed something, but they know how much you love them. I try to remind myself that I remember exactly nothing from when my mom brought my baby sister home, but I do remember feeling loved and happy growing up.
Find little ways to have “special time” with your oldest. Even if it’s a trip to the coffee shop or grocery store, call it your “special time” together. My husband and I both do this and Katherine loves it.
Listen to your toddler. I’ve learned that Katherine has little ways of telling me she needs some mommy time. Sometimes, she just asks for it. Other times, I realize midway through a tantrum that I’ve been trying to put her sister to sleep for twenty minutes and she feels left out. I try to make eye contact with her, give her a hug, and let her know that I love her. This does not always happen, but I try!
Let your toddler know how much you love her sibling. When we first brought baby home, I was a little worried about showing her sister lots of love in front of her. I didn’t want her to think she was being replaced. One day it finally clicked that by demonstrating my love for her sister, I was showing her how much I loved her as well.
8. How was it when you were pregnant with baby number 2 with a toddler running around, was it a different pregnancy? Any advice for those pregnant with a toddler? Morning sickness was difficult with both, but with baby number two, it was very difficult. I am a teacher, and I found out I was pregnant right before school ended. On the plus side, the first trimester was during the summer, however I still had to keep up with my high-energy toddler. People said not to feel guilty about having her watch TV. I totally agree with that, but I could not get her to sit still for 3 minutes, never mind a show. I definitely napped when she did, and my husband was very helpful. My toddler happened to be in the bathroom with me one day when I was getting sick, and for about a month, every time she saw the toilet she would pretend to throw up - silly goose!
It was harder to bond with baby number 2 while pregnant. With my first, we took pictures every week, I kept a pregnancy journal (I am AWFUL at journaling), and I talked to the baby. Our lives were all about the baby we were growing. My second pregnancy was very different. I was so busy with my toddler that I felt it very difficult to bond with the baby. I might have one picture of myself pregnant with Molly, and I did not keep a pregnancy journal. I do feel bad about this in hindsight, but I just have to forgive myself.
My sister had her second child two weeks before my second baby was born, and I remember asking her if she felt bonded with him. She said that she did, and I remember feeling very relieved.
On the plus side, baby number two heard me sing almost constantly, and heard me read books to her sister during my pregnancy. This is something that I didn’t really do much with my first.
I will say that I absolutely bonded with Molly once she was here. She is absolutely wonderful, and I don’t feel guilty about not feeling as close to her while I was pregnant.
9. Any books, Web sites, blogs, or friends' advice that helped with the transition to two? Mommy Stories!!! I got great advice about being pregnant with a toddler, and help picking Molly’s middle name, Elizabeth (Thanks all)! A coworker told me that when she left for the hospital to have her second child, she felt fiercely protective of her first. When she brought home her second baby, she had never felt more complete. That really resonated with me and helped ease my fears. My sister and I have had both of our children at relatively the same time, and having someone to go through this stage of life with has been absolutely amazing!
10. Can you share any silly or funny moment between your two kids or your husband and you when baby number two came that shows what it's like? The other day Molly was really fussy. Katherine started to jump up and down and all of a sudden Molly let out a huge belly laugh. It really showed me how much Molly adores her sister. Also, whenever Molly is sleeping, Katherine tries to sneak in my room and wake her up. If she is successful, I’ll hear “Molly woke up!” Usually, Katherine has stuck her face into Molly’s and has told her to get up. They already have the cutest relationship, and I love watching it!
11. Think back to all the things you worried about before and after baby number 1 came along... did you worry about those same things, or lighten up a bit and worry about different things the second time around?
I definitely have lightened up. There are still things I worry about, but my first child couldn’t go outside at any point without being in her car seat and a mesh insect cover over it. I have definitely lightened up a bit with that (mostly because my toddler has used the mesh thing as a veil and I can’t find it anymore).
This time around, I worry about big sister feeding her little sister crackers, shoving her play spoons in her mouth, and giving her sips of her juice.
12. Name 3 things you could not live without having a second child.
My baby carrier, a bigger diaper bag, and places to put the baby where she is safe (anything that straps her down). My husband, too, has been a rock star!
13. How has your relationship with your first child changed by adding a second one? Do you try to put special time in for your older one, mommy and son time? We definitely have mommy time and daddy time. We do our bedtime routine of 2 books and prayers as a family, and then Katherine decides who she wants to tuck her in and sing her a song. It can be a sacrifice, especially if Molly is fussy, but it allows her some one on one time with whichever parent she feels like she needs. As I said before, we turn quick trips into one on one time as well. I think my relationship has grown with my oldest. I cherish the time we have one on one. She is at a great age and is so funny.
14. What is your advice to a new mom of two as she prepares, and as the baby is here? What works? Go with the flow; don’t sweat the small stuff! I feel like I have to choose carefully how I react to stressful situations. Sometimes I cry, but other times, I try really really hard to laugh. I play music a lot. It helps my mood when I feel overwhelmed. I had to do dinner and bed alone about a week after we brought Molly home. I was really nervous. My sister told me to feed Katherine something easy, prepare myself to let Molly cry for a few minutes, and if Katherine wasn’t asleep on time, it was okay. I think being flexible is so important. We tried to keep Katherine on her schedule as much as possible, but we definitely have had to be flexible on occasion.
Get out and do things. It is so empowering to go to Target or grocery shopping with both girls. It was so scary at first, but once I did it, I felt like superwoman!
15. Anything else you want to add? One thing I found strange with my second was that it took a little while for me to get to know the baby. I don’t really remember feeling that way with Katherine. I think I was totally consumed with getting to know her and I had no experience with it, that it just happened. With Molly, it took a little while to get to know her personality. I already had a solid relationship with her sister, so I felt like sometimes it was easier to tend to Katherine’s needs than Molly’s. It took a little while, but I am definitely getting to know Molly’s personality and needs.