My friend Liz wrote a post a few years ago when she was pregnant with her second boy (she’s now on her third!) about her fears around having a second baby and I remember tearing up while reading it at the time. The Everymom posted a similar article earlier this year. I’ve reread both posts recently since this topic has been on my own mind a lot lately and they resonated a whole lot more now that I’m on my way to becoming a mom of two.
What is getting me through my own fears is knowing that every phase of motherhood has a beginning, middle, and end. I’m trying to focus on the day when Amalia and her little brother can play together and I will be able to sleep through the night again, but I also know that it will take a while to get there and we’ll have some uphill battles in between.
Babies are no joke! I remember being scared of the unknown last time and this time it’s more like I’m scared of what I know is coming if that makes sense. Of course, in addition to the unknown of what it’s like to be a mom of two.
How will I love him as much as I love Amalia?
Like Liz, and like most moms out there, one of my biggest fears is not being able to love this little boy as much as I love Amalia. Logically, I know that every mother’s heart expands with her second child, but emotionally I just can’t imagine loving anyone the way I love her. My heart is filled with her, my life revolves around my tiny girl, and I’ve never felt love the way I feel for her.
One thing that helped is that I went to an outdoor baby shower recently and they had a psychic do quick readings for each attendee. She told me that this baby will be a mama’s boy and we will have an incredibly tight bond in a way that he won’t have with anyone else. That made me feel all warm and fuzzy!
I only wrote about this once and then never again since I received some terrible feedback on my post. But I talked about my postpartum anxiety/depression in detail on the Down to Birth podcast if you are interested in my story. The general gist of my story is that not only did I not bond with Amalia right away but I would get so anxious when I was alone with her that I could barely function as a human being, let alone a mother. Whenever I had to take her out of the house, I would spiral into a panic attack. Every time she would cry, I would cry myself.
And I was too afraid to tell anyone, even my husband, how I felt. I knew it was wrong but thought I was just a terrible person who would never be a good mother. I was so ashamed of my feelings that I held them in. I look back at that time now and want to just give that new mom a giant hug.
Eventually, I went to therapy and realized that I had a chemical imbalance and got on medication with talk therapy. I’m still on my SSRI and chose the specific one I’m on because it’s pregnancy and breastfeeding-safe. I plan to stay on it through the first year of the baby’s life so I’m hoping that helps with the anxiety. I also have therapy sessions lined up for after he’s born and plan to regularly attend those on Zoom to stay on top of my mental health.
Having a plan makes me feel better about this fear but knowing that the feelings I had before could come back still terrifies me.
Amalia’s reaction to the change
My daughter is sensitive… to say the least. She’s incredibly attached to me and right now, obviously, gets my undivided attention as an only child. She will be almost 4 when her brother arrives which is great because she’s so independent with things like going potty on her own and dressing herself, but she’s also gotten used to being our entire universe.
I don’t want her to feel like I don’t have time for her and babies obviously take up quite a lot of time!
Anel and I will do everything we can to make sure she gets alone time with us, but I know that she is going to have a strong reaction to this big change in our house and when she gets mad, she gets mad.
Anel leaves for work before 7 every morning and doesn’t get home until after bedtime a few nights/week. Right now, I’m on solo parent duty getting Amalia up, fed, and to school and then again for bath and bed on the nights when he isn’t home. She’s 3 now, so we have a good and pretty easy routine now (unless she’s in a mood) but I can’t imagine doing all of that alone while also taking care of the baby and having minimal sleep.
Again, logically I know every parent gets through it and I will too but I see two types of moms at daycare dropoff with their two kids: 1. The mom who has a baby’s car seat over her arm, sweating as she drags her older kid to school, dropping things along the way, and 2. The mom who makes it all look effortless. 100% I’ll be that first mom, lol!
All of these fears are normal and common according to my therapist and my mom friends of multiple kids. It helps to talk it through with all of them and hear how they got through their own fears. Change, in general, is scary, especially when you have a really good thing going as we do right now.
Every baby is different
My two pregnancies could not be more different which is a good reminder that every baby is also very different! Amalia was an incredibly easy baby, and we figured out what worked with her at each and every phase. But this kid will likely react to things very differently and I’m worried that I won’t know how to parent a different kind of child.
Also, I have no idea how to change a boy’s diaper so there’s that 🙂
I am so excited, though!
Despite all of these fears, my excitement far outweighs them. I cannot wait to hold my little boy in my arms, look into his eyes, and get to know him as a person. I can’t wait for him and Amalia to become buddies and form a lifelong relationship. I can’t wait for Anel to become a boy dad. And I can’t wait to be a family of four!
As an older sibling (of 3 years) myself, I don’t even remember a time without my sister in my life. Almost all of my favorite childhood memories involve her and I hope that is the case for my kiddos as well.
Photo by Julia Dags.
Will it be easy? No! Worth it? Absolutely! (We are 2 years into it) Like every change it will require some learning and fine tuning but soon you will be a team of 4. I wish you all the best!
I just had my second baby and after having PPA/PPD with my first, I stayed on my SSRI through pregnancy this time and it made a WORLD of difference. Even with covid going on and the fears surrounding that, I mentally felt so much better in my postpartum period this time around. Just knowing what signs to look for also helped me feel more confident that I could quickly get help if needed. I hope the same for you!!
I appreciate the post and is part of what I think about when I wonder if we’ll ever try for a second kiddo.
As a boy mom, make sure they’re pointing down when you put on the diaper. Lol that’s the only “trick” I know different from girls. You’ll figure that out right away!
Good luck. You’ll continue to be a great mama to both your babes.
I am hoping to get pregnant with my second in the next 3-6 months. Some days I am GIDDY with excitement and don’t even want to wait that long, and some days I am terrified thinking about caring for a newborn and a toddler. But like you said, the perspective that my first gave me will carry me through (“this too shall pass” in my head on repeat.) SO excited for you, nothing like a delicious baby boy. XO
I honestly felt the same exact way when I was pregnant with my second. Your heart will double in size and somehow your life will open up to make space for the baby. By the time you come out of the new mom fog, you’ll find that it’s all shifted into place and somehow you’re in a new routine. In the meantime, give yourself plenty of grace! Going from 1 to 2 is hard but you will get to a place where you see them play together and realize it’s just all so beyond worth it.
I just want to say how much I appreciate you sharing your experiences of anxiety, Julia. The stories you and others have shared have helped me identify those feelings in my own life. The feelings of shame and isolation can drive us in the exact opposite direction of the help and support we need. Rooting for you and your family. You’re in such a different place this time around, and siblings really are the best!
From the snippets you share, you are and always will be a fantastic mom, whether you end up as daycare mom #1 or #2 (they’re both awesome, and they probably trade places all the time). It’s always ok to be anxious about the unknown. When the time comes, I hope adding your sweet boy to your family brings you as much joy and peace as it does stress and confusion about how to make it all work. But you WILL make it work, I promise, and “making it work” will look a little different every day. Cheering for you and sending you a hug- you’ve got this 🙂
I had all of these same fears as well…my daughter is a couple of months younger than Amalia and was just about three when my now 4-month old son was born. There was definitely an adjustment period in the beginning, and what really helped was giving my (strong-willed, sensitive) daughter “tasks” to help her feel involved in her brother’s care…things like getting me bibs, burp cloths, handing me bottles, and picking out her baby brother’s outfit for the day. Now that he is a little older she loves picking out the book we read him at bedtime. Most days her bedtime is about an hour after his at night, and having some one on one time at night if possible is also helpful. I was very nervous about this transition, but now watching them interact and love each other makes all of the hard moments worth it. You will do great!!
It’s not easy but it’s worth it! I remember thinking the exact same things when I was pregnant with my second, a boy. My daughter was just over 2. Now they are three and five and I love watching them interact and play together.
There definitely were some tears and anxiety right after my son was born. I remember bawling my eyes out because I felt overwhelmed and was a hormonal mess. Remember you are not alone! I was lucky enough to have a friend in my same shoes who had her son the day after mine. We would send each other texts with the good, bad, and ugly. It was nice to commiserate with a friend. Now we hang out with our kids and talk about those days and laugh at those days. Find people and lean on them!
You got this!
I just had my second this summer and they are just under 4 years apart as well. We are now 4 months in and have had a good routine since school went back in session (thank god). My biggest fear was the logistics of getting them both out the door, and also my older one sleeping through the crying. The former is a work in process, and the latter has somehow not been an issue at all, and now the baby sleeps through the night thank god.
Our pediatrician told me early on a GREAT tip – if they are both crying, go to the older one first. She will remember if you chose the baby over her, and the baby wont notice if they are crying for an extra 5 minutes. I definitely had to deal with that in the first month a couple of times.
As someone who is seriously considering having a child soon — solo — and is very much terrified of the unknown, I would love to hear more about what you now know to expect, what you were afraid of with your first that did or didn’t end up coming to pass, etc! And congrats on Baby #2!
Good luck and congratulations! All will be well. At least this time you know that the newborn phase is short, relatively speaking, no matter how impossible it seems in the midst of it.
I have a 3yo and a 9 month old, and the best advice I got was to tend to your toddler first when both kids need you at once (unless the baby REALLY needs you, of course!). The logic being that your toddler will remember it and your baby will not. Also, I tried to get in the habit of not attending to my toddlers every need/want immediately while I was still pregnant, so she wouldn’t associate my sudden inattentiveness with the baby. Hopefully hearing “just a minute” and “please be patient” for several months beforehand helps ease the transition to sharing mama’s time! To be honest, I still feel like I say “just a minute” all day long to both of them! Also, saying “just a minute, baby, I need to help Amalia right now” out loud when the baby’s crying will show that both kids have to wait for your attention sometimes. Hope this helps!
Just so you know… boy diapers are easier!! 🙂
Thank you for writing this! We are starting to think about a second and you’ve articulated exactly how I’ve been feeling. I know that giving my son a sibling (if we are able) will be such a gift, but I worry about lack of sleep, more work, and upsetting our smooth routine, too!
As far as boy diaper changes, just make sure you have a wipe ready to cover the goods as soon as you open the diaper – especially those first few weeks.
Julia, thank you so much for sharing your heart!!
I can relate to all of your fears, and I can see you are one brave Mama who will be doing her best for both her kids! They are so lucky to have you as their mom.
I know you’ll find some great ways to work it all out, and I’m very excited to read about it! Wishing you a happy and safe pregnancy!!
P.S. I had my baby son in August and can tell you that you’ll figure out how to change a boy’s diaper in no time.
I have two boys 2 years apart (3, 1 at present). The best advice I can give is to try to keep your older child’s routine in tact. Continue to send Amalia to daycare after your son is born. Someone else may need to do pickup and drop off for a while and that’s okay (it’s not worth risking exposing your newborn, unvaccinated child to a bunch of toddlers). Look into hiring someone if you need to to either stay with your baby at home while you do it or do the drop off themselves. My son had an easy adjustment in the beginning because his full-time daycare schedule stayed exactly the same. His bedtime routine stayed the same. We fit baby in around him. Newborns/infants they are resilient and their ‘schedules’ are going to change many times over the course of that first year of life.
Lastly, I had PPD with my first and that was the thing that gave us the most pause before having a second child. My husband and I knew there were only going to be a few things we could reasonably “control” to do differently the second time around. We did all of those things (which for me was an epidural hospital delivery, setting the bar INCREDIBLY low in the first few weeks, limiting visitors, renting the Snoo). The second time around I was also prepared to go back on medication and resume therapy if need be. Second babies are different babies entirely. Our second son was a different newborn. I was a different mom. We sailed through those first few weeks in a way I could never have imagined.
Finally, let’s all appreciate the first mom you described. I’d love to see influencers embrace that first version much more. We are your audience. I don’t want to be compared to “effortless”. Being a parent takes more effort than anything I’ve ever done in my life. Hard work shouldn’t be invisible. 2021 will be much better year for many reasons but I’d like to see us stop putting perfection on a pedestal.
OH and perhaps the best thing for everyone was committing to formula from day one. I had a miserable time breastfeeding and no supply. Setting up our Baby Brezza on the counter before delivering and knowing anyone could feed him at any time and we could all get a little more sleep is so, so helpful. As Chrissy Tiegen recently said, “normalize formula.” Women shouldn’t have to justify (even as I just did) formula.
It will be the best. I had my daughter first and then my son. Granted, they are now 21 and 20, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanted a girl first so bad and was so happy that I did. But my boy, oh man, he is so special to me too. He and I have such a special bond. You will LOVE having a boy too. And the diaper thing, it’s the same, but just always have something in front of that little rocket. 🙂 I’m excited for you – you will do great!
I too did not bond with my son when he was first born. I had no idea what was going on, I just knew I felt like a terrible mother because I did not have that bond right from birth. And I was super ashamed to talk about it. Thankfully therapy and my hormones stabilizing helped. I love my little guy to pieces now and wish I had gotten help sooner. Not every mom experiences that love/rapture right away and its important to share and normalize that so folks can see it for what it is – a flag that mom is not ok and needs some help.
Thank you for writing this! I am having my second in May and my little one will be 18 months. I often think about the logistics but also how will I handle the sleepless nights again?! Now them my son is in a good sleep spot it scares me to know that I can’t just sleep or rest when the newborn is sleeping. I am just trying to think the weather should be nice and hopefully the sunshine will make a difference. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey.
I just had my second when my daughter was 19 months and I was pleasantly surprised! You’ve basically just gone through it, so you’re not as shell shocked, and the little things like lack of sleep don’t bother you as much because you know ultimately everything is a phase (at least, that’s been my experience!) I highly recommend a good baby wearing device like the Solly wrap and having safe places to put baby down in every room. I’m borrowing a Baby Bjorn bouncer from a friend and it’s been a lifesaver. My son is almost 12 weeks now and it’s getting really fun to see them interact. Congratulations!!!
One of the best pieces of advice I got while pregnant with my second was to constantly refer to her as “our baby” or “your baby” when talking about her with my son (who was 4 at the time). It helps them form a bond with the new baby before they are born. We also got him a present when she was born, and told him it was from her. She is almost two and a half now, and he still cherishes that present.
It takes great courage to put yourself out there. Thank you for having that courage. Stay healthy.. I admire your attitude and your decision to take care of yourself and your family…You’re doing good mama! <3
Thank you thank you thank you for putting down into words exactly how I am feeling right now. I am due a week before you with our second. Our first is a little girl, and I’m convinced the second is a boy (we are keeping it a surprise!)
I can’t imagine adding to our tight knight little family of three, and everything you stated truly resonates with me. Any chance is hard, but this is overwhelming me.
Can’t wait to follow along with your journey, and hear more honest words from you as we battle through it.
Thank you for writing this! It’s refreshingly honest and brings me back to how I felt in the months leading up to having my second son. My oldest, about to turn 4, has kept me on my toes since he was born and in addition to wondering how I could possibly love anyone as much, I agonized about having enough time/ attention/ good will to parent two! But the universe somehow gives you just enough to handle; my youngest son, who will turn 2 next month, is the sweetest, softest soul and he fit into my heart perfectly. Also the first couple months are indisputably difficult but it gets easier and more fun as you go.
You are such an amazing mother and the joy will only double when you welcome your precious little boy into the world. I so appreciate your honesty and transparency. So much about motherhood is just hard, not to mention uncertain. So, those of us brave enough to embark on this journey must support one another. I have two daughters, five years apart and I can only say that they are different and they both bring amazing joy to me and my husband! Sending you positive mom thoughts!
I’m due with my second in two weeks and this post sums up exactly how I’m feeling! Thanks so much for sharing.
Always. Point. Down. Or else pee will go everywhere except the diaper
Your post brought back memories to me as I have a 29-year-old daughter and a 25-year-old son. I adore both my kids and have a special relationship with each of them but there is no denying that mother-son bond (and father-daughter as well). I am so happy I have one of each and you will be too!
Congratulations, Lemonstripes! Lots of joy ahead. I’m sorry you received negative feedback on a post about postpartum anxiety. That’s a shame.
Rooting for you!
I have a 3.5 year old boy and a 13 month old girl. I don’t remember worrying very much about loving her as much as him (I’m one of four and always just blindly trusted my mom’s wisdom that your heart expands), but I did mourn the end of his time as the only child. I’m child number three, so I didn’t know what it was like to be the sole focus of attention for my parents and treasured that experience for him AND worried that 2.5 years was too short! He adjusted better than I could have ever expected to having a baby sister and is a loving older brother (if not a natural caretaker).
He was an insanely easy baby and my daughter was slightly less so, but each in different ways. He, for example, cluster fed for four hours every night for months. Once I figured it out, I set myself up on the couch and watched two movies a night and handed him over to my husband in between feedings. My daughter never cluster fed, but (still, to this day) cannot really sleep anywhere but her quiet room. I tried too hard to take her on outings (pre-COVID) and boy would she SCREAM. I thought she was a fussy baby but she was just tired. Whatever the tired version of hangry is, that is her.
Especially as my daughter gets older and her personality comes out (let’s face it–as much as we all love babies, they’re pretty boring ;-)), I am constantly overwhelmed by my love for the two of them. Just waves of it crashing over me at random times. And I do all the cliched things like counting down the minutes to bedtime and then staring at their video monitor or photos of them after they’re asleep. Especially given all your work to treat and recognize your anxiety, I am certain it will be the same way for you. Your love for Amalia is evident, and baby boy is lucky to have you!
Lastly, I agree with what others have said here–put a wipe down on his area as soon as you open the diaper! And I always put the clean diaper under the dirty one so that I can pull out the dirty one once I’m done wiping. That way the naked time is shorter! 😉
I had similar fears when I had my second. Also similarly, I had some postpartum depression with my first and it took a few weeks to bond. My second child was unplanned, and I felt like it was too soon after my first and had trouble being enthused about the pregnancy. However, it really worked out, and my second really completed the family. It was the only time I’ve ever experienced love at first sight. I didn’t have any postpartum depression with my second, either, and it was amazing to feel like myself. I enjoyed the baby period. It was definitely still a learning curve dealing as my second child is so very different than the first, but it is amazing how a mother’s heart just somehow expands.
Having the tools in place and ability to communicate your anxieties is such a tremendous asset! Just knowing you are not feeling these things in isolation is an instant relief. You got this, mama!