Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately (for the last three and a half months, actually) about the differences between my first and second child. And when I say that, I don't mean the differences between Gracie and Katie (though they are extremely different, it's still too soon for those differences to be terribly interesting to anyone other than us). I mean, the differences between having my first and having my second.

People always say adding a second child is more than twice the work, go on and on about how overwhelming it is to have that extra baby around. I only know one person- another nurse practitioner at work that I rarely even talk to, actually- who rolled her eyes and said, "Going from zero to one was much, much harder than going from one to two." When I was pregnant with Katie and would hopefully repeat that comment, people with more than one child would snicker derisively and tell me to just wait and see.

Ok. I waited and saw. And sorry to disappoint all the smug assholes who tried to scare me, going from zero to one was eighty thousand times harder than going from one to two.

I realize part of that may have been our first child's hatred of the world in her early days. The same people made also told me that crawling and walking were when the REAL FUN began! "Ohhh, just wait! NOW it gets really hard!" And then she started moving, and Stephen and I were like, "Really? Y'all think this shit is hard? We'll show you HARD." So, there's that. But my work friend said something else that I think is really, really true- the culture shock of having your first child, for her, and for me, was so much more difficult than adding another needy little being to the crew. Going from total freedom to almost none, all that sleep to almost none- even if you have the world's easiest baby, those changes still have to hit you pretty hard. I think? I don't know. Those were really hard adjustments for me. And when Katie came along, well, I was already hardly getting any sleep and already had very little freedom, because I already had a two year old. I also knew- I mean, really KNEW- that I needed to get my hair cut and read a book and clean my house and spend an afternoon by myself before she was born, because I KNEW I wouldn't be doing those things for awhile, in a way that I couldn't have known before Grace was born.

There are other differences, too, that I think are easier the second time. Recovering from the whole process was a million times easier the second time. I thought at first there were other reasons for that- I was pregnant with Grace two weeks longer than I was pregnant with Katie, and those are two pretty unpleasant weeks. Katie was over a pound smaller than Gracie. I labored all night with Gracie and was utterly exhausted when she was born, but Katie's labor was mostly during daylight hours (well, 4am is still considered daylight after waking up at that hour for a year). But then my friend Laura went and had her second baby who was much larger than her first in the middle of the night, just as overdue as she was with her first, and still recovered faster. So there's probably something to be said for that.

The hormones didn't hit me nearly as hard the second time. The first time, I was weepy and anxious and just really completely out of my tree. The second time, I was still hormonal, but it was weird- I was completely euphoric. And yeah, I'd just had a healthy baby girl, I had plenty of reasons to be happy, but I am telling you, I was like a walking bundle of sunshine and happiness and isn't life AMAZING?!?! Which, okay, Grace was fussy from minute one, and Katie slept for the first two weeks of her life, but even the physical effects of the hormones (specifically, those disgusting soaking night sweats) were barely an issue at all this time. It was kind of amazing.

I guess it makes sense- the two pregnancies were like night and day, so it makes sense that the differences continued after the babies were born, but it never stops amazing me.


Rae said...

I think I told you what my mom said about this. She felt like different things were harder with the second. With the first, it was getting used to having a baby to care for 24/7. With the second, it was trying to figure out how to leave the house and accomplish anything. I still can't imagine having another one until Gerald is in college. Too bad I'll be 52 then.

Megan M said...

agree agree agree! Zero to one...hard. One to two not so bad...You've done it before, you know how to take a temperature in the middle of the night when a baby is screaming and your eyes are not awake, you understand the importance of naps for both, and I think people are MORE willing to watch two kids because they take pity on you! Now, two to three kids...that's a whole nother story!

Crabby Apple Seed: said...

Megan, I'm thinking two to three will be brutal...but still plan on doing it. I guess I'm nuts. I've had two people tell me two to three was no biggie, but I feel like it entails a whole lot of lifestyle changes that one to two does not.

and Rae, there are things that get harder as they get bigger instead of easier, but I find it easy to get out with both of them, FWIW. I think the increased popularity of baby-wearing helps with that a LOT.

Laura said...

Kyle and I were talking about this today (or was it last night? I dunno).

I totally agree that all of the physical stuff was 100% easier, and my hormones were also waaaay nicer to me this time too. I bonded with E so easily in a way that took me months to feel with Abs. So, all of that together makes for a much easier time.

My caveat is time. When Abs was born - I feel like not much changed. We were flying across country a week after she was born, I went shopping, ran errands, baked pies and cooked real dinners. I showered daily, I had down time.

Now? Very little down time. I'm having a much harder time juggling two kids AND a life. I'm figuring it out slowly, but that's certainly been the biggest difference for me. Taking Abs out to go grocery shopping and coming home to blog was a non-issue. With two? Different story.

Donna said...

Definitely nothing can really prepare you for going from none to one. But going from an easy baby to a hard baby made one to two much harder for me. But really, if you told any of this to a sane person who was considering having kids, how on Earth would they chose this insanity. 'Cause the awesome-est part about it is the part that makes it all worth it is the hardest to explain. That's the part that makes me think, "hmm, could we squeeze a fourth one in?" even in the midst of oppressive sleep deprivation that would make me want to cry if I ever had a second to think about it.

Crabby Apple Seed: said...

yeah, Laura, I think that's where having a brutally difficult baby for your first makes the transition to two a bit easier, maybe? Because we couldn't take G anywhere for a very long time. I mean, she was probably two months old before I took her to the grocery store by myself, and even then, she screamed bloody murder the whole time I was in the check out line. maybe it was sooner? I dunno. we were definitely on house arrest, and I feel like, even if it meant missing holidays with family, we would've had to call and say, sorry, we just absolutely cannot take this baby on a plane. stuff like that.

and as hard as it was and as much as it SUCKED to have that be our introduction to parenthood, I think it would be much harder to have it like Donna had it, with an easy baby first and a difficult baby second, because you feel like you know what to expect and then you totally don't, where I expected it to suck eggs, and for the first two weeks, it absolutely did not.

I am also constantly reminding myself to step back and look at the bigger picture, instead of thinking I'm having a shiteous day because both girls were screaming while I wrestled with them and four bags of groceries and Sam bolted out of the house and almost knocked them over when I opened the back door and then half the groceries spilled, etc...I have to work a little harder to remember it's a shiteous MOMENT, but a good day.

Rebekah said...

I love this post, I even made my husband read it. I've always wondered if this were the case, I'm glad to hear it. Do you think any part of it is being a nurse/knowing how to juggle and prioritize Multiple people with high needs or do you think it's purely perspective?