Did anyone else imagine the arrival of their second child a bit differently than it actually went? I knew it was going to be challenging, but I remember thinking to myself, “You’ve got this! You’ve been through the baby stage before.” But when I brought my son home, I didn’t feel quite as prepared as I originally thought I would.
“I wasn’t expecting the guilt”
The piece I wasn’t expecting was the guilt that I felt for adding this new little guy to our lives. His older brother was 22 months old at the time. Juggling the needs of both my children had me in a tornado of feelings that I wasn’t prepared for. I really felt like throughout the day someone was always crying…and let’s be honest, sometimes that someone was me! I had always been able to meet the needs of my older son, and now he was learning this new reality where he had to wait for Mommy’s help. He was barely 2 years old, so I’m sure you can imagine how well that went. On the other side, I felt tugged by an infant who shouldn’t have to wait, but sometimes had to and would be screaming by the time I could get to him. I was exhausted mentally and physically, felt crushed by this guilt that I wasn’t meeting the needs of either of my children, and wondered why no one had prepared me for this emotional rollercoaster I was in!
Give Yourself Grace
I’m here to tell you now, it’s normal to feel that way; and even more it is okay. Adding another child to your family is a huge shift in dynamics. If it’s your third or fourth, you may be more prepared for the change, but when it is your second child, this is uncharted territory for you. Try not to doubt yourself, give yourself grace and patience. Remind yourself that you are trying your best and everyone in the family is adjusting to the small addition with big needs.
Navigating The Ropes of a Second Child
Your household will settle and you will all find your groove again but the early weeks can feel daunting. Here are some suggestions for you from a mama who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
1. Have Individual Time With Both Children
Try to find a moment in your day to feel present with each of your children individually. I found it easier to find this time with the baby since he was pretty much attached to me. For my older son though, we maximized the morning nap while his brother was sleeping and he wasn’t. We would read, build with play-dough, go outside, and sometimes just snuggle and watch a show. Check your own energy tank and choose an activity that will be fulfilling for you and the child you are sharing it with.
2. Share Your Feelings With Your Partner
Try to find space to connect with your partner each day. Adding another human being into the mix can sometimes make the two of you feel like ships passing in the wind, constantly attending to the needs of someone else. I was not as good at this as I was with finding the moments for my children; and I truly wish I had been. If I had shared more of the turmoil of my emotions with my husband rather than waiting for frustration to win out, he would have been given the space to share with me as well. Often speaking your feelings into space can feel so cathartic in letting them go.
3. Take Care of Mama!
Try to find time for YOU. I was the worst at this. When my first son was born, I was back at my spin class each week once I was 6 weeks postpartum. It was my weekly block of time that I knew belonged to me and no one would be pulling for my attention. When my second son was born, I didn’t set aside a block of “me time.” I was deep in mama mode all of the time. For so long I didn’t realize the pieces I had lost that made me ME. Find that time for yourself and try to remember your old hobbies, even if it just a quick 15 minute walk at first. It’s helpful to take a deep breath and turn off your brain. Don’t beat yourself up either for wanting some time to yourself; you are allowed to meet your own needs in this parenting journey.
If you are feeling like your emotions are too much to navigate on your own, please reach out for help. There are many local support groups and therapists skilled at helping parents manage overwhelming feelings that often come with bringing a newborn home. Remember you are not alone in how you feel and plenty of people and resources are out there for support. Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny is happy to support you as well, check out or newborn services, here.
About The Author
Courtney Poirier is a veteran Newborn Care Expert with Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. She has many years of experience with sleep conditioning and coaching in daycare & home settings. Prior to working with babies, she was an elementary school teacher. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their two sons. One is seven years old and the other is nine years old.