On my eldest son’s seventh birthday I got to thinking of what it was like when we first brought him home. I thought of how that first week is such a blur—you’re exhausted, worried, elated, bored, and enthralled all at the same time. And while nothing can compare to your first week of parenthood, there’s a lot to be said for that first week as a parent of two. Whether you’re wondering what to expect with baby number two or looking for a fun walk down memory lane, here are seven ways that the first week home with baby is both the same and different the second time around:
1. There’s still worry, it’s just about different stuff.
With your first baby it’s hard not to constantly worry. You track dirty diapers obsessively and check their breath as they sleep. Mostly you worry that you’re doing your best, and it is stressful as there seem to be endless decisions to be made. With the second baby, you can fall back on those previously made decisions or learn from the ones you wish you had made differently. You’re generally much more comfortable caring for such a tiny creature. But you’ve got a whole new type of worry to contend with: siblings. You worry that your oldest feels loved and included, you worry that your youngest is going to be hugged too hard or covered in school germs. You worry about dividing your attention. Thankfully, you don’t worry about how to love them both, that comes effortlessly.
2. There’s still lack of sleep, but it’s less shocking.
You’re going to be exhausted, but not in a way you’ve never felt before. It will be familiar, which doesn’t make it a lot easier, but it does make it more emotionally manageable. With another kid at home that whole “sleep when the baby is sleeps” idea is close to impossible, although you will be more willing to skip chores and showers for extra winks the second time around.
3. There’s still lots of TV, only now instead of Bravo, it’s Sprout.
The first week with baby home involves lots of hanging around the house, feeding and holding and feeding and snuggling some more. With my first I watched a whole lot of whatever I wanted. With my second I still relied on the TV, only this time it was to occupy my oldest while I cared for his baby brother.
If having a second baby teaches you anything it’s that no two babies are the same.
4. There’s still a struggle for self-care, but you’re better prepared.
Let’s be honest, with baby number two you are spread even thinner than you were the first time around. However, you’ve learned a whole lot since then, including the importance of caring for yourself and the value in asking for help. With my second I had meals and giant pads in the freezer and friends and family recruited to watch kids while I showered or rested for a bit.
5. You’re still isolated, but you’re more likely to have mom friends.
For many of us it’s not until you bring that first baby to classes and playgroups that you find your tribe of mom friends, making that first week with baby number one extra isolating. With baby number two you’ve got even less time for adult conversations, but you’ve got more people you can text for support or a good laugh.
6. You’ve learned a lot, but you’ve got a lot more to learn.
If having a second baby teaches you anything it’s that no two babies are the same. That first week with your second child may bear very little resemblance to the first week with your first, simply because they are different babies.
7. You survived the first one, and you'll survive this one too.
With the first baby that first week is so full of unknowns, it's extra daunting. You tell yourself that it'll get easier, but you don’t fully believe it. With your second you have previous knowledge that makes the whole week not just more doable, but more enjoyable. You not only know you'll survive, you also know you'll miss it. There's something magic about that first week with a new baby and the feelings of joy are only magnified with your second baby. That second baby brings extra challenges, but they also bring extra love.