From the moment we told the world we were pregnant again, it seemed that everyone that had been there, done that more than once, felt obligated to express their opinions. It seemed like everyone clearly fell into one of two camps – the “Number 2 will be a breeze compared to Number 1” folks, and the “Number 2 makes life really complicated” people. With such a wide range of (unsolicited) experiences to take in, we really didn’t know what to expect. (And considering that our number 2 is not even a month old yet, we hardly qualify as experts when it comes to family expansion projects…and I’m about to share my unsolicited opinion like everyone else lol) While I can’t choose a side quite yet, I can definitively say that I can see where both sides are coming from…and that so far I’m leaning towards the “easier” side of the spectrum!
Here’s been our experience so far when it comes to comparing life as a family of 3 vs family of 4.
Why It’s EASIER
1. Labor and Delivery – To be frank, a birth canal that has already had one passenger generally has an easier time with subsequent ones. But even if your labor isn’t shorter or physically easier, you will for sure be more mentally prepared for what’s about to happen.
2. Breastfeeding – The second time around, only one of you needs to learn how to do this. All that prior knowledge and experience goes a long way in alleviating common first time around fears about having enough milk, nursing too much/too little, and being able to gauge what is “normal” for your little one.
3. Mom (and Dad) Know What They’re Doing – It’s not that Baby #2 creates a laissez-faire attitude, but everything is just a lot more relaxed because you have some idea of what to expect. You can also reassure yourself that your parental instinct got you through one newborn stage successfully, so there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again. For example, as a first time mom I spent the majority of my nightly nursing marathons googling everything I possibly could about every weird sound my son made in his sleep, since he sounded like a dinosaur on his death bed. Eventually I learned that newborns are just noisy sleepers…this time around I put down my phone and spend that time sleeping…
4. You Can See the Big Picture – While adding a helpless little person who only knows how to eat, sleep, cry, and poop is never an easy transition, the second time around comes with a long-term perspective. Yes, some days may be long, but experience tells you that the weeks, months, and before you know it, years, fly by at the speed of light. Knowing that the majority of your frustrations are just a phase makes it easier to smile (and maybe even laugh!) through those inevitable crying jags and sleepless nights.
Why it’s HARDER
1. Older Sibling – Yeah so the reason for that newfound newborn confidence from number 3 is back at your house waiting for you…rather impatiently by the way. No matter how well you try to prepare your older child, there’s no way they will be able to comprehend how much there world will be forever changed…but all of a sudden there’s a new little intruder that is suddenly usurping all of Mommy and Daddy’s time. Instead of 1 on 1 (or 2 on 1 when Dad was home), a second time mom quickly finds herself outnumbered (and possibly overwhelmed.) Thankfully this particular one got easier and easier with each passing day, as we figured out new and creative ways to get the one on one time that we all needed.
2. You Can’t Sleep When the Baby Sleeps – That seems to be the number one catch-phrase when it comes to new mom advice. And for good reason – it’s great advice! But while it generally works out great for first time moms, a mother with another child quickly realizes that it’s just not practical.
3. Life Can’t Revolve Around Naps and Feedings – With the first kid, it’s (comparatively) easy to be flexible and get things done in between sleepy time and feeding time. But with double the kiddos makes things a lot more complicated. Rest assured that your baby will demand to nurse as soon as you are ready to load up the car to take your older kiddo to preschool (or not be finished yet, if you tried a preemptive approach.) And it goes without saying that all morning preschool programs end just before, after, or smack dab in the middle of the anticipated longest nap of the day.
4. Divide and Conquer – With one baby, taking shifts with the other parent was easy – and the subsequent alone time was glorious. But trading out kid duty for BOTH at once is a lot more difficult to manage, especially at first. The concept of taking shifts now translates to “You take the big one and I’ll take the little one.” Those glorious alone-time moments are fleeting at best.
As far as the easier/harder debate, the bottom line is that parenting is hard work, regardless of whether you have one child or ten. The first child may have received more of my undivided attention, but the second child gets to reap all the benefits of my prior experience as a mother. That being said, I probably have had less entirely overwhelming days this time around so far (though there certainly have been a few!) But again, this is just my personal opinion (after only a month with 2!) I would love to know everyone else’s thoughts on the matter, so please weigh in! (And if you’ve got more than 2, I’d love to hear that perspective as well!)