I look back at a post I wrote last year about my fears around having a second baby and I just want to hug that pregnant Julia and tell her not to worry about a thing. I want to tell her that this new baby will bring her more joy than she could ever possibly imagine.
I am well aware that every mother and every family will have a different experience, however, this post is to give hope to anyone who had a rough time postpartum the first time around. I’m here to tell you that it can be different.
We didn’t plan a 4 year age difference but it has been really wonderful for our family. There are obviously pros and cons to waiting a little longer to have a second kid but for us, so far, the pros have far outweighed the cons and the sense of completeness can sometimes be emotionally overwhelming (pretty sure I’m still hormonal, TBH).
In my personal experience, going from 1-2 kids has been 100x easier than going from 0-1. It has been less of a shock to the system. I’ve said this before but with Luca, it oddly feels like he’s always been here with us somehow. Not to get all woo woo on you, but I really think he has always been a part of our lives in one way or another.
This post is titled “Part 1” because I have no doubt our family dynamic will change time and time again, especially when Luca can move around more and grab Amalia’s toys.
I’m going to address all of the fears that I originally wrote about here.
How will I love him as much as I love Amalia? I think that every mother has this fear at some point in her second pregnancy and I promise you the cliché about your heart doubling in size is true. It’s one of those things that you can’t know until you feel it. Anel and I have a constant conversation going about how we love both of our kids so much but so differently. Our personal bonds with each child are so special and so unique. I’m not really sure how to articulate it but it almost feels like they’re two different limbs. Like one is an arm and one is a leg and together they make me whole.
It actually feels as if my heart has quadrupled, not doubled. I am so madly in love with both of my children and everything feels nostalgic and beautiful. Again, that could be the hormones talking… but man it’s intense this love!
Postpartum anxiety: This was my biggest fear of them all and I’m proud to report that 5 months in, I have had none of the symptoms I had the first time around. Part of that is probably due to the fact that I’m still on anxiety medication, and I’m guessing that the other part is that it was less of a shock to my system. I knew, more or less, what having a newborn entailed. It is 100% still very stressful and difficult at times, but it’s not all-consuming because I have my anxiety under control.
Amalia’s reaction to the change: This has been probably our biggest challenge in growing our family, but it’s a manageable one. She was smitten with her brother from day one and takes her role of big sister very seriously. She’s empathetic, loving, gentle, and mothering with him. She “reads” to him and rubs his head, she puts on dance recitals for him that he watches, still and wide-eyed. But she does get jealous, especially when it comes to me. She and I have a very strong bond and tight relationship and it was a big change for her to have to share me.
Per what I wrote here, I won’t be getting into details of any of her emotional struggles which is why I can’t really share more on this topic. What I will say, however, is that with a lot of conversations and a conscious effort to give her lots of one-on-one time whenever we can, the situation has improved dramatically.
The logistics: Of course it took a while to settle into our new routine. And of course, there were challenges around that. But it’s pretty amazing how quickly we’ve all adapted to our new way of life. We have bedtime down to an art these days. The most difficult time of day is the mornings because Anel leaves for work before any of us are up and I’m dealing with the emotions of two hangry children. But even that has become second nature after 5 months of practice.
Everyone warned us that we wouldn’t have any free time once we had two kids but I think because of the age difference, we’ve been really lucky. Amalia is good at playing by herself so if Luca is napping on a weekend, Anel can go outside and garden or I can go take Boots for a walk. Granted, our alone time might only be 30 minutes for the whole day but it’s more than we expected!
Every baby is different: This one couldn’t be more true. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t know what to do with a different personality and different needs, and there was definitely a learning curve. Anel and I tried a lot of the same tricks we used with Amalia to get him to eat or sleep better and he had totally different needs. It took him a lot longer to sleep through the night, but we knew it would come eventually which eased that stress.
Photo by Julia Dags.