The first child: When we were expecting our first child, people celebrated me as though no woman had ever had a baby before. I was showered with gifts and attention by family, friends, family friends and friends of family friends’ dogs. Upon arrival of the baby, visitors crowded the waiting room and lined up around the block. You have never seen so many homemade lasagnas in your life.
The next one: Umm…where did everybody go?
Your first child: Photo documentation began before my pregnant belly was even visible and continued weekly (more like daily) throughout the first two years of our daughter’s life on the outside.
The next one: Any pictures that captured my second pregnancy were inadvertent until near the end, when we decided we had better take a few shots on purpose just to prove it happened.
The first child: The baby was sniffle free her whole first year of life.
The next one: Due to the infectiousness of her older sibling, now in preschool, the baby has had a runny nose since the week after her birth. She can see us coming with the snot sucker from across the room and it takes all three of us to hold her down to use it.
4. Time Management
The first child: There was no time to do anything but care for the baby. Outings were carefully timed so as not to anger the gods of Nap. I could not commit to any plans without a caveat regarding the likelihood of my cancelling them, because one day’s schedule could not predict the next.
The next one: I cannot conceive how I ever felt busy caring for only one child and though I continue to respect naps, it would be impossible for me to make the world stop spinning in order to always accommodate the baby at the exact moment she is ready. (By ‘the world’ I mean my preschooler, by ‘spinning’ I mean spinning.)
The first child: I had great big hopes that my breasts would rebound post nursing.
The next one: All hope is lost. But I’m still pulling for pelvic realignment.
The first child: We rushed to respond to night time crying for the baby’s sake.
The next one: We rush to respond to night time crying so that she won’t wake up her sister.
The first child: The baby got a complete wardrobe change upon receiving the tiniest drop of spit up.
The next one: Wipe slobber and spit up off with other parts of the clothes she is wearing, the clothes I am wearing, rub it off (or rather in) with my thumb, dangle her so she launches it onto the ground. In short, use whatever method of cleanup is most handy and carry on. Spit up and slobber are nothing compared to what her sister uses to dirty clothes. Exponential laundry increase is one of the great shocks of having a second child.
The first child: We encouraged motor skill and ambulatory development. Praised all accomplishments.
The next one: Have strapped to the floor with duct tape knowing what difficulties baby mobility brings. I try every day but still cannot physically move in two opposing directions at once. Once the baby starts running around, I will have to decide which child to sacrifice in order to chase after the other.
The first child: Any baby proofing done was to protect from the dangers of the house.
The next one: How could anyone think a house is dangerous compared to a three year old? This baby climbs the stairs by herself on the way to her daily sibling self defense class.
The first child: I wanted to hold her all the time, she was my first. Her sleeping on me was bliss and I had the leisure to doze at random with her at any point during the day.
The next one: I want to hold her all the time, she is my last. Her sleeping on me is rare because her sister does not recognize my right to be still.
The first child: On the weekends the family ran errands together. It seemed we had all the time in the world and every trip was novel. There were two of us and one of her…nothing could impede our progress.
The next one: Divide and conquer. This took a few trips to figure out. Inevitably, one of us would have to make an emergent potty run into a store with the toddler, while the other sat in the parked car nursing the newborn. This left no one to accomplish the errand. (To ease your suspense, it was me in the car.) As I write this I realize that during the week, I run the errands by myself with both girls. Hey wait a minute, that’s not fair…
The first child: The house became increasingly scattered with baby gear and toys. I was excited when she grew out of all those clunky baby gadgets such as the activity mat, exersaucer and high chair, until I realized bigger kids have bigger stuff.
The next one: Minimal adult possessions remain. However many attractive receptacles I can find, they are not enough.
The first child: Had the benefit of all my attention. Good thing because I had no idea what I was doing.
The next one: Has the benefit of my experience. Good thing because I am busy explaining to her sister why she doesn’t get all of the attention anymore.
14. Life Impact
The first child: The shock of parenthood was tremendous and the realization that I couldn’t turn back was scary like I swallowed a boulder and jumped off a bridge.
The next one: Times two.
The first child: Brought the most powerful of all love into my life for the first time.
The next one: Brought the most powerful of all love into my life for the first time, again. (My apologies if the sentiment makes you throw up in your mouth, that is just the way it is.)