I still remember the man who approached me at the mall while I was changing my seven-month-old son. He was holding his sweet little newborn daughter with a look in his eyes that was a mixture of exhaustion, nervousness, and desperation. “How long did it take for him to sleep through the night?” he asked expectantly.
I knew what he wanted me to say. I could see he was desperate for some reassurance that he would get to sleep again one day soon. “He just started sleeping through the night now at seven months,” I said as I watched his face deflate. “Is she six weeks old?” I asked. “She’s only five-weeks,” he replied sounding sad that he had a very long road ahead of him.
I remember how nervous I was as a new mom. I was terrified to take my daughter home from the hospital. I was also exhausted and worried I wouldn’t be able to survive the seemingly endless sleep deprivation. By the time I had my second and third babies, there were certain things that were less surprising and scary.
Here are the top 10 worries you can kiss goodbye the second-time around.
1. Labor – I can still hear myself saying, “I can’t do it.” There were several moments I just didn’t think I could deliver my first child. I was in the worst pain of my life and exhausted after eleven hours of labor and an additional hour of pushing.
While my second and third labors weren’t exactly a walk in the park, I no longer worried if I could do it. Having my first baby proved just how strong I could be. And all the gross and surprising things that come with labor didn’t freak me out the second and third time around.
2. Basic Baby Care – I was terrified to take my first child home from the hospital. I had no clue what I was doing beyond the brief nursing, diapering and swaddling tutorials I got from the nurses. I almost didn’t want to leave the hospital. The second and third time I couldn’t wait to go home. I had all the basics down, though I never did fully master the swaddle.
3. Common Colds and Minor Injuries – My first born had Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at three-months-old and I was horrified watching her breathing in the vapor from her nebulizer. She looked so tiny and helpless and it felt like she would be sick forever. After that, minor colds and injuries didn’t faze me as much. I learned to save my worry for the bigger illnesses.
4. Poop – If there’s one aspect of parenting you find yourself talking or thinking about the most, it’s poop. Color, frequency, texture, you think/worry about it all. Newborn poop changes color and frequency quite often which is really unsettling for new parents. With the exception of prolonged periods of constipation I never really worried about poop with my other babies.
5. Nursing In Public – I used a cover up with all my babies, but I was really timid about nursing my first baby in public. Even when you aren’t physically exposed you still feel vulnerable. By the time my second baby was a few months old I really didn’t care if people knew what was going on beneath my cover up. I think you gain confidence in feeding your baby and you become less concerned with how someone else might react.
6. Sleep Deprivation – Don’t get me wrong, sleep deprivation is a given when you have a baby. With my first child, there was one night in particular I thought I felt my brain break from lack of sleep. I wondered whether or not I was actually going crazy. The second time around I was like, “Okay, crazy is the new normal.” I also had the experience to know that it wouldn’t last forever.
7. Sleep Training – Sleep training (if you choose to do it) feels like an exercise in torture the first time around. It’s hard to hear your baby cry while trying not to immediately rush in to comfort them. It’s still hard with subsequent children, but you realize that it’s worth a few really sucky days to have them sleep through the night for the rest of their lives. The first time, I kept my eyes glued to the video monitor, making sure my baby was physically alright.
By the second child, I knew he was physically fine even though he was unhappy about not sleeping next to me anymore. I know sleep training is not for everyone, but it gets easier once you have seen great results and know you’re the only one who will remember how tough it was.
8. Being On Time – Before you have kids you take for granted how easy it is just to grab your keys and get out of the house. Once you have kids you have to pack diapers, clothes, food, toys, a change of clothes and possibly medicine just to go on short trips. It can take far longer just to get in the car with kids let alone attempt to get to your destination on time.
Now that I have three kids, I don’t sweat being on time. I’ve figured out the trick to getting somewhere on time or early is just to assume you’re going to be late. It’s strange, but when I start the process of getting ready to go somewhere I already have it in my mind that we’re running late and it gets me out the door ahead of schedule to compensate.
9.Trying To Solve All Their Problems – With your first child, you think it’s your job to prevent every boo-boo, solve all conflicts with friends and make sure they don’t feel bad in any way. With subsequent kids, you learn to relinquish some control and discover that you need to let them find their own solutions.
Now, I simply point my kids in the right direction and let them work things out on their own. The biggest gift we can give our kids is the ability to cope with and solve their own problems.
10.The “I Hate You,” “You’re So Mean,” or “You Don’t Love Me” Rants – You never forget the first time your kid says one of the statements above. It stops your heart, you can’t breath and your blood runs cold. By the third kid, I don’t feel like I’m doing my job if I don’t hear it occasionally.
I’ve learned not to take it personally. As parents we have to make decisions our kids won’t always like, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid making them just so our kids will be happy with us. After the first kid, you recognize that they don’t mean it and it’s our job to be their parent, not their friend.
Many people say that it’s hardest going from one kid to two. I personally found it to be harder going from none to one. While the juggling and multitasking increases with multiple kids, so does your ability to go with the flow and trust your instincts.
What things got easier with your second, third or fourth child?
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.