What I Wish Someone had Told Me About Having a Second Child - The DGAF Mom Blog (2024)

Many parents feel like they know what to expect after having one child, while others find that having a second child is a completely different experience. No matter what, every parent will tell you that it’s worth it! Here are thirteen things I wish someone had told me before I had my second baby.

Areyou thinking about having a second child? Are you currently pregnant with your second baby and feeling the overwhelm of “what’s it going to be like” when baby #2 is born?

Here is what to expect if you are expecting your second child.

Agood friendof mine recently became pregnant with a surprise second child.

Before this, she was decidedly on the one-and-done-side of parenthood, but in talking to her, I realized that while she is certainly in for a real surprise, there are several other surprises about having a child that makes it all miraculous and beautiful in a different way.

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How Do You Know When (or IF!) You’re Ready to Have a Second Baby?

Just because you already know all about the newborn stage, doesn’t mean you’re fully prepared to completely change your current family dynamic (but it does help a lot).

If you’re asking yourself “should I have a second child?” you’ll want to, at the minimum, consider some of the facts.

Because truthfully there are many factors to consider when trying for a second baby. And the total number of children you end up going to have will eventually affect all of your family members.

Some people may feel like they are ready to have another child right away, while others may need more time to adjust to the firstborn.

Here are a few things to think about when trying to decide if you’re ready for another:

-How well do you handle being a parent? Do you feel like you could handle another child?

-Do you have enough support from your spouse, family, and friends?

-Can you afford to have another child?

-Are you physically and emotionally ready for another baby?

If you answer yes to most of these questions, then you may be ready to give your first child a new sibling. It’s important to take your time and not feel pressured at all.

2nd babies are wonderful, but they do come with challenges. Many parents experience second baby syndrome or wonder if they can really handle having another child so soon after their first.

There are so many factors to consider, but ultimately, in the end, only YOU can determine the best time for you to try for number two.

For our family, I was certain from the jump that we would have more than one child. And my husband and I spoke frequently about what that timing might be. I wanted them close in age, knowing full well that it would come with some serious challenges at first, but then get easier as they got older.

We waited until my firstborn was exactly one year old, and started trying for baby number two.

We were lucky in so many ways that what we wanted to be lined up with what we got. (And I hope it’s the same for you, friend).

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When do you start showing in second pregnancy

Every mom is of course much different, but for me I looked about 10 weeks pregnant when I was 6. That continued. At 3 months, I looked about 5 months pregnant.

My body, having recently done this, seemed to say, OH HEY GIRL HEY! We’re doing this again?

And just popped all the way back out. It was wild.

That being said, I’ve heard from some friends that the second pregnancy was easier and they didn’t show until much later. (Although that seems to be rare)

But hang onto those maternity clothes, momma. Get them all out. Odds are solid you’re gonna be showing like you’re 6 months pregnant when you’re only 3 months.

Also for many second time moms, the morning sickness is worse.

And yet still, for some it’s better! My own experience was that it was way worse with my second baby which made me think my oldest was going to have a little sister…(as a lot of moms were telling me that morning sickness was a n old wives tale of an indication it was a girl).

Our second kid ended up being a boy and they have been best friends ever since.

Lastly, your labor may be much faster this time (If you decide to go into labor).

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How will having two children affect your body?

Having a baby will most likely cause all of your stretchmarks to expand. Second babies are no exception.

My first pregnancy was easy peasy, nothing at all like the stories I had heard from friends who said they had “hard pregnancies” with not one but TWO kids in their tummies.

My second pregnancy on the other hand: I was so much more nauseous, so much more uncomfortable, and so much more irritable. I had horrible constipation and headaches. (Yup. went there). Something that worked well was taking the Magnesium supplement Calm which affected both my sleep, energy and bathroom breaks. Taking magnesium to prevent pregnancy-related constipation is actually a common practice.

In addition to treating it, you can help reduce the chances that you’ll get it by drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

Second pregnancies can be rough going in many ways compared to first pregnancies. Second pregnancies are often harder on our bodies because we’ve already stretched them out just to have one.

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How Different Is The Birth of a Second Child?

After giving birth to my second baby, I was so exhausted by the process of labor and delivery that it wasn’t until a few days postpartum before I realized something was different this time around.

I knew going into second baby territory that having a new little person in the house would be a totally different experience from having a singleton. But I hadn’t realized how different it would be.

Firstly, my husband caught a nasty cold almost immediately. He and my oldest were quarantined at home (this was pre-COVID days so they were able to visit in the hospital)

Back when I had my first, my husband spent the night with us and helped with changing diapers and making sure I was comfortable.

Round two? I was on my own other than the nurses and occasional visits from friends and family (again pre-COVID!)

On the flip side, it gave me a very unique experience of bonding with this little man all on my own. Every nurse who walked in the room commented about how “sweet” he was. (He still is). I could instantly tell his personality was different than that of his brothers, and at the same time I felt that split of my heart being in two places at the same time.

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What to do with the first child during the birth of second?

Oh, honey this definitely depends on your village. Family and friends, who don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night to come over and hang with the first child while you head to the hospital? That’s the ideal.

Same if you have family and or friends who can be around while you schedule a C section.

With COVID restrictions there may be challenges to having additional visitors, even your spouse in the delivery room. So that presents another option of what to do with your first child.

I was lucky in that i went into labor in the early morning, we dropped off our first baby at daycare, and I went straight to the hospital and delivered his brother. My husband stayed with me until after “nap time” and went to get him and introduce him to his big brother. Here’s a photo from that beautiful first meeting:

It was tough to have your heart split in two though. I had a lot of anxiety and guilt about leaving him at daycare to rush off to the hospital. I felt torn between the joy of meeting his brother and spending quality time together and missing my first baby.

I do think the alone time I got with baby number 2 was so special though, without the disruptions of his brother and in some ways, even my husband!

Because you’ve been at this rodeo before you know that all the nurses and doctors are going to be so far up in your vagin* and your body that it’s almost expected.

Remember peeing for the first time in front of a nurse?

Remember having to report back about your first poop after baby?

Round two will come with a renewed confidence and a legit feeling of not giving any f*cks at who sees what. I was lucky to have two unmedicated childbirth’s and both times required me to be basically fully naked in front of a room full of strangers. Round two was easier to handle.

This is the true gift of motherhood.

The gift of less f*cks.

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Will I love my Second Child As Much?

Oh momma, you will love them all a million and one times… I promise. The good news about being a second-time mama means that you have the benefit of perspective and this isn’t your first rodeo.

That being said, I’m not gonna lie. I had a hard time “bonding” with my second for the first few months. I felt so scattered by so many new things…returning to work with two kids in daycare (Sam went into daycare a full 3 months earlier than his brother). Communicating for hours a day, having a toddler who was demonstrating new needs, and all the rest. I didn’t have that leisure time to bond as i did with my oldest. Maybe. Or maybe it just would take longer…

The good news is I can confidently say that the bond between me and baby number 2 is STRONG. In fact, in some ways, we have a much different bond than my oldest has with me. My oldest seems to have an equal affinity for both me and my husband whereas my youngest only has eyes for mommy.

But you will, friend. You will love your second baby as much as your first. It will become two parts of your heart living outside of your body. (And I imagine this to be the case for that third, fourth, and fifth baby – if you dare!).

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How Does Having a Second Child Affect Your First

Both of your babies may surprise you with their love for each other.

They are completely and totally annoyed with one another and are also so obsessed and in love with each other andboth feelings exist in the same space at the exact same time.

If you are a working parent or if you’re navigating the stress of running a home there is inevitably a growing to-do list of sh*t you need to handle which may make you feel so incredibly overwhelmed and exhausted on a mental and emotional level.

Second babies come with an increase in demands on your time and attention. Second babies need to eat more often (and they may be eating new foods) which takes up valuable minutes of the day that you might otherwise spend working or napping or whatever it is that makes you feel like a human again.

Second babies make every aspect of life harder (but equally full!) because most people don’t have a spare hour to clean up a huge spit-up mess, get the laundry done, vacuum, take out the trash, and do important work tasks all before lunch.

And that guilt of wondering if you’re a good enough mom might creep in.

Then there’s also this weird balancing act of trying to allow for the same circ*mstances that your first baby had: It’s impossibly hard not to compare the two of them, even harder not to feel guilty about these comparisons.

My second ate far more sugary sweets than my oldest ever did at his age.

He also watches far more TV than his big brother ever did at this age.

On the flip side (and bonus side) my younger baby was far more advanced in his language development before he even turned three.

In fact, when he was two he was already saying 5-6 word sentences riding scooters and school tricycles and could throw a ball with a semi-perfect aim.

We believe that having the example of an older brother pushes him to experience more than his peers. This little boy is also the one who is encouraging his older brother to lift the seat when he goes potty. So it goes back and forth.

What it Costs to Have and Raise a Baby (And or/a Second Baby)

Spoiler alert: Having babies ain’t cheap.

And unfortunately, here in thee US we don’t have endless maternity leave, or free childcare (yet!)but I’m holding out hope that future generations will benefit from the hard work of advocating for these types of things (along with more affordable slash free health care)

But in the meantime, if you’re considering haveing a second baby you have to consider the actually legitimate financial burden you and your family will be taking on.

WebMD has done some of the heavy lifting for you, but here’s a quick reference of how much you’re looking at for having one child and then more.

One Baby: 3K or more

Twins $15k Or more

One time baby supplies (lucky you you probably already have these if you’re trying for number 2) – 23K or more. Plus first two years: 25,360

Twins first year: $25,880

Total expenses for raising a child: $233,610

Twins: $490,680.

Read more about how this is impacted with a second child.

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Is Having a Second Child Worth It?

I obviously answered this question for myself by having a second baby. It’s definitely been worth it and we would do it all over again if given the chance.

There isn’t enough time in my day to discuss how amazing and beautiful I feel when the four of us are all together.

It’s like I’ve created this perfect little family that is exactly the way it should be – and it feels amazing! Second babies are worth every second of pain, discomfort or nausea that you might feel during that second pregnancy.

Second children are also worth every tear shed over feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or hormonal. Second babies are worth it because they add something amazing to your life and they give you a whole new perspective on the world. Second babies are worth it because they make you better in ways that you can’t even imagine!

Second babies are worth it and if you aren’t sure, then maybe now is not the right time for you to have another child with your current family.

There is no chance to put them back if you have second baby remorse. Unfortunately.

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Time With Your Second Baby Will Speed Up So Much Faster

Suddenly baby #2 will lift her head and roll over, and you won’t even know she was trying to do it because you were too busy with everything else.

Gone are the days of staring at your new baby studying every single curve and inch of skin and all the sweet movements and sounds they make.

You will do this. But it will not be as leisurely (or dare I say it, enjoyable) because you’ll have a giant to-do list.

The exception to this is if your kids are spaced out in such a way where one is in school for a big chunk of the day, soyou have hours to bond with baby #2 without the distraction of someone needing a snack, or having to thoroughly entertain another kid.

I was lucky that my baby’s teachers and caretakers never told me if he did something “for the first time” in daycare (I think they’re trained to do this).

I wanted to live in the suspended reality that I never missed any of his firsts (and I’m grateful that when I did get to witness something for the “first” time, like when he pulled himself up to stand, they never corrected me or gave any hints that he’d done it before.

I’m pretty sure he may have, but I loved believing he saved it for his family.

Baby hasn’t bathed in a week? I DGAF.

Did you leave the house without three changes of clothing and an extra burp cloth? No biggie, you can improvise.

This has a weird downside because all the milestones will come and go so quickly andwhat used to be documented in effigy all over social media may come and go, and you’ll be lucky if you post a “baby is seven months old” picture on time.

Because you’ve been at this rodeo before you know that all the nurses and doctors are going to be so far up in your vagin* and your body that it’s almost expected.

Remember peeing for the first time in front of a nurse?

Remember having to report back about your first poop after baby?

Round two will come with a renewed confidence and a legit feeling of not giving any f*cks at who sees what. I was lucky to have two unmedicated childbirth’s and both times required me to be basically fully naked in front of a room full of strangers. Round two was easier to handle.

This is the true gift of motherhood.

The gift of less f*cks.

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Your First Born Baby May Become Quite Jealous of your Second Child

I like to warn parents who are expecting a second child that the firsttwo weeks with a new baby are like a honeymoon phase for baby #1.

And then it sets in that this is real life and this baby isn’t going back in Mommy’s belly, and the acting out begins. Whatever age your oldest child is, expect some major resistance to set in when your second baby is about two weeks to a month old.

If they’re potty trained, that means accidents.

If they’re sleeping through the night, sorry. More wake-ups for the whole family.

If they’re relatively mild-mannered and follow directions, you may get some notes from the teachers that they’re acting out in behavior ways at school.

They will be more clingy. They will be more emotional.

Their entire world view of their parents is shifting. They don’t get all of you all of the time and never will ever again.

That’s a huge transition for them, and it’s worth being gentle with them about it.

This is all supernormal (and super expected).

The trick is to lean into it and offer as many hugs, and as much attention as your exhausted body can muster (but not too much as to create a new expectation).

My hubby and I used to call it the “jealousy juggle” where my oldest would suddenly desperately need me, and so I’d pass off his baby brother to my husband (and then the opposite would happen, and we’d pass them back again).

Because I formula fed both my babies this was much easier. If you do too, check out this formula feeding hack that’ll make you life so much easier.

If you’ve got a little one attached at the boob it’s going to be harder to give them your undivided attention while you’re nursing.

I’ve heard from some moms that setting up a “big sister /big brother” game or toy that’s specific to when you’re nursing could have some benefits/potential to distract them from their overwhelming feelings.

I did enroll Sam in a mommy and me class (just as I had for Jack), but he was done with it after about six weeks because I was heading back to work and didn’t have the luxury of time like I once had.

Where sh*t gets real is when both kids want to participate in extracurricular activities. At daycare. At school. Anywhere.

Or both kids want to sign up for the new art class or dance class or sports class or gardening class. I love the enrichment it provides. My wallet is not a big fan of the financial burden. But we make exceptions and we do things for our kids to make them grow up to be cultured, functioning, well adjusted humans right?

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Why is the Second Child More Difficult?

Is it true that the second child has certain different characteristics as the first?

According to this article in Psychology Today, the order in which children are born is (not surprisingly) directly related to emotional, physical, and mental developments that are long-lasting.

“Explain to your secondborn that he cannot do the same things as his older sibling because he is younger. His sister could not ride a two-wheeler when she was his age. Over time his legs will get longer, and he will be able to ride a two-wheeler, too.

Praise his abilities and celebrate his successes, even when he wins a soccer trophy and it is the second time around for the family.

“Help your younger child to assert himself with his older sibling and monitor their relationship. Make sure that the older child does not dominate him and that the younger one gets an equal chance to choose the game they will play and be first.”

Whenit comes to your first child adjusting to not being the only one receiving all of mom and dad’s attention:

“Avoid pressuring your firstborn to be perfect and show her unconditional love. (98% is really good enough.)

Reassure her that you have enough love for her and your new baby.

Show her pictures and videos of all the care you provided for herjust as you do for the new baby.

Help her to obtain privacy whenshe needs to play with a friend, by arranging a play date or a special activity for the younger child.

Encourage your oldest to speak about any anger or jealousy she has about her younger sibling(s). These are normal emotions and it is better for her not to keep them inside.”

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Your Babies Are, and Will Always Be Entertainment For Each Other (and it will be Awesome)

When Sam was about 20 months old, my husband and I looked up at each other and realized we’d been eating dinner together for a solid 15 minutes, while the boys had quietly been playing together.

This continues in a monumental way and being able to do all my chores while my babies entertain each other is incredible.

I wrote part of this blog post while they covered my floor with all of the sea life pieces from a 75 piece bucket, effectively turning my office into an underwater oasis.

There will also be lots of fights, but there’s something about the built-in ability to learn how to deal with conflict at this age that only having a sibling can provide.

I believe my role is more of a mediator than a referee (although I do need to do both from time to time).

I encourage them to work out their disagreements with each other first. If they can’t, then I can help mediate.

But if they come to me first without talking to their brother about what’s upsetting, then I suggest they start there.

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You Will Be More Tired Having a Second Baby

Everyone will tell you that you’re going to be tired because it’s the most obvious statement of the century but no, seriously.

You will be so dang tired.

I’m sorry I can’t fake this or make you feel like you can handle it, but you will handle it because you are a badass, momma. But know. It’s gonna suck. Probably.

I look at pictures of me when I only had one child, vs. pictures of me a year into two and I look as if I’ve aged ten years, in one year.

Much of this is because of the close-together-in-age thing so neither of my babies were sleeping super well, and the oldest was potty training so the stress of navigatingthat bested me in my best nights.

Oh, and they loved to play a game I like to call “Mommy Doesn’t Get to Sleep” by tag-teaming me to be awake when I least expect it.

If you have kids who are close in age like mine, the odds are good you’re going to be blessed with the two of them trading off as to which one will sleep in, and which one will be up off and on all night every few hours.

If by some force of sheer will and luck, they end up sleeping through an entire night, never speak of it to anyone.

I’ve learned the fastest way to ruin a good thing with your sleep, and your children’s sleep is to start talking about how good it is.

As if the sleep gods won’t allow a good word.

If you’re wondering, “should I have a second baby?” because you’re littlest is super young and you can access everything you know about having a newborn and a teething baby…guess again.

Even though my babies were only 21 months apart, I was shocked at how much I had forgotten from simple things like how much does a 2-month-old eat (and how often) to when they should be rolling over and doing developmental milestones.

The one thing you will never forget is when they start to sleep through the night.

Or in the case of the dreaded four months sleep regression, when they stop. (And also hey, there’s an eight-month, and a 12-month sleep regression so don’t get too comfy momma!)

I am legit writing this piece about three years after my second was born, and I’ve forgotten what I’ve forgotten.

It’s a weird time/space/continuum feedback loop I’m in, but I remember that I forgot everything and then had to relearn it again and felt strangely silly that I couldn’t remember.

So that you forget everything and then have another because you’re so blissfully unaware of how stressful and overwhelming it can be at times, enjoy it while it’s all hazy momma.

You will need two hands and the only way to get two hands with a baby and a toddler, or slightly older child is to wear baby #2 like a champ.

And honestly if wearing your baby isn’t a thing for you, it may become a thing. It’s hella convenient, and there are as many types of babywearing contraptions as there are strollers and other baby gear. You can find something that is so easy to throw on, is supportive of your back, and also totally gorgeous.

I was a big fan of two baby wraps – The Baby K’Tan, and the Beco Gemini because my husband could wear it too andit was weirdly supportive of my back.

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Leaving the House with Two Kids Becomes a Win

You need two of everything whenyou leave the house with a baby and a toddler.

If you have a young one not potty trained yet then you’re gonna wanna get a bigger diaper bag.

Wipes, diapers, formula and bottles (if you formula feed) and water, changes of clothes for everyone who could sh*t themselves or spit up all over themselves.

Extra bibs and burp cloths. Is there a chill in the air? Extra sweaters for both just in case. And so on.

The stroller, the babywearing carrier, hats? Sunscreen.

If you’re a working mom with kids in daycare, pile onto that everythingthey need for daycare(bottles, wipes, diapers), as well as your own work bag/laptop, etc.

It can be overwhelming and make you feel like you never want to leave the house ever again. And honestly, I wouldn’t blame you.

But you will become a master of this.

They say that necessity is the master of invention and you will become a master inventor of how to get everyone and everything the f*ck out of your house.

Your multitasking mastery plusyour invention of systems to get going will be on another level, andthey will stay that way until your kids can get themselves dressed, put on their own shoes, and wipe their own buts.

And then you’ll be leveling up on other things like homework assignments and notes for your teachers.

So in other words, it’s gonna be a minute before you can have a lovely leisurely morning before getting ready for work or going out for the day.

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You Will Become a Minimalist Mom (Even if you Didn’t mean to!)

Because you’re packing for two now, being selective about what you bring on that 20-minute walk around the block (only what is absolutely needed) becomes a thing.

Same for a quick pop to the store.

Or making a quick run to pick up big brother at school.

I was lucky to be able to keep my oldest in daycare for the three months I had before returning to work.

I was incredibly grateful for it because for several hours every day it was just me and my newborn and once he started smiling and engaging back, I was able to enjoy our time together.

There will be far less “sleep when the baby sleep” type naps because you’llhave an older child who has been patiently waiting for your attention.

Gone are the days of long leisurely walks whenever you want to with your baby because you’re juggling two different nap schedules(if they’re young) oran older toddler who may refuse to be in a stroller.

While it’s undoubtedly a fantastic time for your newly expanded family to connect and get to know each other, it will be a far cry from your first time at home with your baby (and in some ways, it will be so much more lovely. Just slightly more tiring).

I did laundry and dishes nearly every single day for all three months of my maternity leave.

If you feel like sharing that sentence about the laundry and the dishes with your childless co-workers before you take off to have baby #2, I thinkit will go a long way toward them changing their tune about how “maternity leave must be so nice! Like a vacation!”

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Things That are Easier the Second Time Around About Having a Second Child

You will be a more confident mother whenit comes to taking care of a newborn.

You also know precisely what baby gear you need and what baby gear isn’t necessary and luckily you have most of it already.

You’re more attuned to your mommy gut feelings about sickness, developmental issues, and any of those nagging worries that keep you wondering if the baby is “okay.”

You’ll also be keen to know exactly what baby needs whether it be to eat, to be burped, to sleep, or just to be held.

Your mommy instincts have matured, and your first baby gave you the great gift of teaching you everything you need to know to be able to do this all over again.

Extra bonus? Your partner will likely also be a pro at this point and can take over in most any facet: changing the diaper, making a bottle (if you bottle feed or formula feed), rocking to sleep, whatever.

And even better? You’ll be less likely to question their every move or even need to give them too many instructions because they’ve been there done that at this point.

If you have an older sibling they will revel in being your helper.

My toddler used to spend 30 minutes sorting and organizing all the bottles, lids, nipples, and caps that came out of the dishwasher for his baby brother and we did this daily for weeks (to his absolute sheer delight).

If you have two of the same gender, then you’re set for a while on clothes (especially if you haven’t donated or given most of them away yet!)

I had significant trouble breastfeeding my firstborn and even though I didn’t think it was possible every Lactation Lucy on the block told me that it would be easier the second time and the famous catchphrase of “every baby is different.”

This second part is very true, but whenit came to feeding my baby breastmilk,I had the same issues with a different baby.

For the breastfeeding goddesses out there, I’ve heard stories of everything from baby #2 being a champion breastfeeder when their older siblings weren’t, to baby #2 having horrible acid reflux and being allergic to everything under the sun.

I’m a big believer in the phrase “happy mom, happy family,” and if mom is struggling emotionally or physically and breastfeeding is a big part of that, then please consider the wonderful alternatives of combo feeding, pumping, and straight up formula feeding.

I loved loved loved that my oldest could feed his brother (and he loved it too) and it became a special time for the entire family to be able to contribute to this.

How do you feel about your second baby? Shoot me an email or subscribe to my mailing list. I’ve got more for you about this new chapter in your motherhood journey you’re gonna want to know.

I was lucky (and considered it a good idea at the itme) to be able to keep my oldest in daycare for the three months I had before returning to work.

I was incredibly grateful for it because for several hours every day it was just me and my newborn and once he started smiling and engaging back, I was able to enjoy our time together.

Not all moms get this luxury, so I recognize that maternity leave will probably be a hot hot mess of sorts (in a beautiful way).

There will be far less “sleep when the baby sleep” type naps because you’ll have an older child who has been patiently waiting for your attention.

Gone are the days of long leisurely walks whenever you want to with your baby because you’re juggling two different nap schedules (if they’re young) or an older toddler who may refuse to be in a stroller.

Welcome are the days of new challenges and the inevitable sibling rivalry.

While it’s undoubtedly a fantastic time for your newly expanded family to connect and get to know each other, it will be a far cry from your first time at home with your baby (and in some ways, it will be so much more lovely. Just slightly more tiring).

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