When you have your first baby, your entire world is turned upside down. You go from no baby to baby. That’s like going from a part-time job in the fast food industry to a full-time job as an astronaut. In orbit. Overnight. And there’s no time to adjust because you don’t know what the heck you’re adjusting for.
Once you have a second child, though, you’ve already got a pretty general idea of what to do. Maybe your first baby wasn’t interested in the cat, but your second baby is fixated on eating his tail. But your world is already upside down by the time the second one comes around, and you’re too tired to remember what it was like before that happened.
Here’s my experience with my first baby and second baby:
First Baby: Could not go on a spontaneous trip because the formula was at home.
Second Baby: Stop at Walmart to buy a container of formula and bottles on the way.
First Baby: Studied up on sleep routines for months, gradually incorporating these strategies around six to eight months.
Second Baby: Started sleep routine before we left the hospital. Just to make it a habit.
First Baby: Spend 30 minutes packing the diaper bag to go to the park around the corner of my house.
Second Baby: Changed diaper before the park. Threw snacks and sippy cup in the stroller.
First Baby: Put baby in her own crib for the first time at six months old.
Second Baby: Delivered baby into her own crib.
First Baby: Used baby monitor until baby was a year old.
Second Baby: Turned off video baby monitor when baby started sleeping through the night because: A. She was a loud sleeper and B. Monitors creep me out. Ever seen Paranormal Activity?
First Baby: Started saying, “no” around two years old, because it was so dang cute when she did everything.
Second Baby: Started saying, “no” the second she could hold her head up and look at things she wasn’t supposed to touch.
First Baby: Started solids with rice cereal, allowing at least a full week in between introducing new foods.
Second Baby: Started solids off with vegetable puree as an accent to her main entree of a chocolate cupcake.
First Baby: Encouraged walking early because it was so exciting.
Second Baby: Did not discourage. Or encourage.
First Baby: Used her stroller to grocery shop in order to avoid germs.
Second Baby: Used Target’s shopping carts and (maybe) the complimentary wet wipes.
First Baby: Constantly tried to keep all pool, bathwater, and sand out of her mouth.
Second Baby: Keep extra wipes by the sandbox and limit bath drinking to a three drink maximum.
First Baby: Rarely left the house in fear she might cry in public and I wouldn’t know what to do to stop it. Except cry.
Second Baby: Was outside within two weeks because of over-exhausted cabin fever.
First Baby: Went to the doctor for anything amiss.
Second Baby: Go to the doctor only for wellness visits and things we can’t safely pull out of noses and ears ourselves.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I remember feeling overwhelmed. I’d often wonder how I would ever get used to any of this. How would I know what to do and how to do it? Turns out that process happens on its own, without you even realizing what’s going on. Of course, that’s really how parenting works: Stuff happening without you even realizing what’s going on.