Having one kid turns your world (and your body) upside down. They steal your both your sleep and your heart, challenge your relationship, and eat up your savings. They make you burst with pride ('Look! He just ate an olive!') and sob with frustration ('Surely you can't be pooing AGAIN?') They make you realise how ungrateful you were to your own parents, and how much you owe them for loving you throughout toddler tantrums and ill-judged teenage tattoos.
For baby number one, everyone has told you their nightmare birth story, or their preference for attachment parenting or Gina Ford. Sarah at work has passed judgement on the size of your bump (too big, too small, definitely a girl, but maybe a boy) and told you in ominous tones that life will never be the same again. And annoyingly, she's right.
For baby number two, everyone is too busy with their own kids to tell you what it's like. I'd tell my mates that it's really, really tough, only I've got to put a wash on and go to the supermarket. When we catch up, we are beyond talking about pooey nappies and sleepless nights, and instead debate Love Island and where does the best holiday babysitting service. We've got our lives back, a little, and we have left the boob, bottle and bum chat behind.
So as an apology to my delightful friend who has just had her second baby, a squidgy, gorgeous little girl, here is what I should have told her. "You didn't tell me it would be this hard!", she wailed, with bags under her eyes and spit on her shoulder. Sorry babe.
1. You will have NO TIME. Remember with baby number one we were all amazed that our new NCT mates managed to shower? It's like that feeling, but on acid. When your newborn naps, your toddler will want all of your attention. So much for a cheeky kip when the baby sleeps.
2. You DO have enough love to go round another child. Promise.
3. Breastfeeding doesn't get easier second time round. By all accounts, labour does (especially for me who had a planned C-section) but breastfeeding was still the biggest challenge for me, not helped by my firstborn asking me: "Why are your boobies out mummy?", or demanding toast as soon as I'd settled on the sofa.
4. But pregnancy is easier, in that you don't have time to analyse every kick, twinge and stretch mark. No time for that when you are potty training/packing schoolbags/watching Moana for the eleventy billionth time. You have no idea if your baby is the size of a kiwi or a melon, and your birth plan just involves getting home asap and having a stiff GnT and some sushi.
5. Every baby is different. Which is delightful, unless your first was a good sleeper who never cried.
6. You'll be much more zen about everything. A bit of poo on your sleeve? Wipe it off. Weaning on pouches? Embrace the ease. Bath time? Pah. You'll wash them once a week and their skin will be all the better for it.
7. Baby yoga? Music classes? Sensory sessions? They are all awesome, but NOT for a 4-week-old. Stay at home, snuggle, and watch Grey's Anatomy. That is, if your first born isn't at home. (Did I mention Moana?)
8. And if they are, they will hate you for a bit. They'll hate the baby for a bit too. And that's ok, because they are learning how to share, how to rub along with others, and that sometimes Mum and Dad have other priorities. Smother them with love and attention, even when they are being bratty, and they'll get through it. As will you.
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