Everyone loves a first baby. They send you Facebook congrats. They throw you a shower, complete with a cake, the remnants of which you devoured some midnight, because, well, pregnant. They showed up at your hospital room with tiny bears and handmade hats. Meal trains were formed. Pictures were cooed over. You felt like you’d finally been admitted to the secret club of parenthood.
Then you had another baby, and no one gave a flying fuck. Okay, they did. But only to ask if it was planned.
Second babies get no love. They get no shower because everyone assumes you already have all the stuff you need, even if what you need is more cake. They get no hospital visitors except their older sibling. They get no tiny bears and no crocheted hats. All that silver crap you got for baby No. 1, the spoons and banks and picture frames? Baby No. 2 gets no silver. You already know you will have to explain this to him when he’s older. Worst of all, Baby No. 2 gets no meal train, and that’s when you really need all the casseroles.
I’ll say it: Second-time mothers need more love than first-time moms. Sure, newbie moms need to be initiated into the mommy mysteries (pee-pee teepees are stupid as hell, and you will get poop on your hands) and need rest and support. But second-time moms need the love. They need the help. They need all hands on deck because, holy shit, all of a sudden there are two of them.
Bring a present for the baby — and a big brother/sister present.
Some people think this is spoiling because your older child should know they aren’t as special as their mewling replacement. But big brother or sister is going through a huge transition and has some big feelings. They love the baby, but they feel like the baby has taken their place, and they resent that. They’re worried people won’t love them as much now that this squawky squishy thing has come along. When you only bring presents for babykins and coo over them and hold them and ignore the big sibling, you’re just reinforcing all their fears. So bring a damn big boy/girl present.
Start a meal train.
New moms certainly could use a meal train, but they can always set the baby in the rock ‘n’ play, or whatever baby jail they favor, and whip up some mac and cheese for the whole fam, which is 1) her and 2) her spouse because the baby doesn’t have teeth yet. The second-time mom is juggling a baby and another child, possibly a toddler, possibly an angry toddler, and she only has two hands. Barring a baby carrier, this leaves her with exactly zero hands to cook. Or it means her spouse has to cook, which means she has to wrangle two children while she’s bleeding like a stuck pig from her hoo-ha. And one of them is nursing. And the other is flinging blocks at her head. Second-time mom needs some serious meal help.
Clean her bathroom.
She will weep with gratitude. Seriously, hands-on-face, raccoon-mascara weep. Then watch both the kids while she takes the second shower she’s had since that one in the hospital — you know, the shitty one with the tiny towel. Maybe give her some time to paint her nails and put on makeup. Doesn’t matter if she doesn’t go anywhere. Mascara can make a girl feel like a new woman.
Show her how to use a baby carrier.
Doesn’t matter which one. Wraps are great — stretchy or woven. So are bei dais and good old soft-structured carriers, like Ergos (just make sure you don’t get a knockoff). If you don’t know how to use one, accompany mom and kids to a babywearing meeting and help her wrangle the older child while she learns how to wear a baby and hopefully how to feed in a carrier. There are people there to help her. They’ve been in the trenches. Use them.
Take the baby for an hour while she and her older child go on a special trip.
Make sure the babe is all fed, changed, and happy, then send her on her merry way. She might protest. She might say she’s not ready to leave the little one yet. But her oldest child will practically drag her out the door to the park, the ice cream parlor, or their fave fast food joint. Or just to freaking Target because small children, like moms, love Target. Starbucks, popcorn, and toys, my friend. Starbucks, popcorn, and toys.
Help her make her first postpartum Target run with two kids.
What she won’t tell you is that she’s terrified to take both kids out at once. Who knows what could happen? Will the older one run for the road when the baby needs to nurse? How will she get them both out of the car at same time? What if the baby cries? What if the older one throws a tantrum? The small things that moms of multiple children deal with daily are terrifying to her because she’s never held a baby in one arm while dragging a screaming toddler from the toy aisle. Go with her this time. Help her buy some toilet paper without worrying. Hopefully it’ll give her the self-confidence to do it again — alone.
Most of all, make a giant fuss.
Buy a huge-ass baby card. Crochet a hat, and buy one of those overpriced baby outfits no self-respecting mom will ever purchase on her own. Maybe spring for some of that overpriced silver crap. Stick all of it in a brightly colored bag. Hand it to her while big brother/sister is distracted by their present. Tell her she doesn’t have to open it right now because she’s probably feeding the baby. She will be feeding the baby 24/7 for the next three months.
Then steal the baby, turn on some toddler TV crack, and make her take a nap.
She hasn’t slept for more than two hours at a stretch since that baby came, however it popped out or arrived or was delivered by stork or whatever. She will appear reluctant. Tell her to STFU and push her toward her bed. She’ll thank you later.