Pop, fizz, clink (the non-alcoholic champagne glass) because you just found out you’re expecting again! December and January are statistically some of the most popular times of the year to conceive, so I know there are a few of you out there in the same boat that I was in at this exact time last year. I had just confirmed I was expecting my second baby, due to arrive in early October. My husband and I were both very excited, but also experienced some new feelings, ones we didn’t have the first time around. Would our first child feel left out? Would we be able to love the new baby as much as we loved our daughter? Would we be lucky enough to have a second perfectly healthy baby when we had already been blessed with one? Could we live through the sleep deprivation, diaper blow outs, witching hours, and newborn craziness all over again? We had nearly ten months to come up with new fears and concerns, but we also had this time to prepare both ourselves and our daughter for the exciting change that was to come.
I am a list maker by nature and love the feeling of crossing off each item as I go, giving me a true sense of accomplishment, so the first thing I did after seeing those two pink lines on my pregnancy test was to create a Pre Baby #2 Bucket List. This included both things I wanted to do with my daughter, my husband, and on my own before baby’s arrival and also included things that needed to be done in order to be prepared for his entrance into the world.
Here are the top five things on my list that helped me prepare both mentally and physically for Baby #2.
1. Room Ready
This can mean many things, depending on your living situation, but for me it meant creating a comfortable space for both my first born and the new baby. Having an updated space for my first born was important to me so that she could easily transition from the crib into a bed and into a room that suited her growing personality as opposed to the decor chosen for her prior to her birth. This made her excited for being a big sister and not resentful about giving things up for the new baby. Next, I prepared the nursery for baby #2. While this isn’t mandatory since baby likely won’t be sleeping there for several months, I now know from experience that trying to decorate/clean out/organize a room is very difficult once baby is here. Having both of their rooms in order made me feel more prepared for our new arrival and gave a sense of maturity and independence to our daughter, who was well on her way to feeling like a BIG sister.
2. Taking Time
It was important to me to spend as much one on one time with my daughter as possible before the arrival of our newbie for several reasons. I wanted her to always know how much we love her and that our love would never be replaced our lessened once the baby arrived. I also wanted to hold on tightly to the feeling and the memories we had made as just us and was slightly grieving the loss of our alone time. I took an early maternity leave, using up the last of my vacation days and starting leave early to ensure that I would get that time with her on a full time basis. I loved every minute of it and so did she.
3. Gather the Gear
For the second time around, you are wiser and you know what is necessary and what is not. And you typically already have a lot of stuff tucked into all the nooks and crannies of your house just waiting until you have more children. I knew that gathering all the toys, clothes, bouncers, diapers, blankets, and gadgets I had and auditing their necessity in my life was a must do task. This process allowed me to purge much of what I never used or knew I didn’t need, organize the items we would use again, and purchase anything that was missing or sure to be “the perfect item for baby that was not invented the first time around.”
4. Schedule Sanity
Everyone knows that a newborn knows no schedule, but your toddler has grown very accustomed to the schedule that you have painstakingly created for them and it is important to maintain some form of routine. In order to make this happen for me, I figured out who I could rely on to help keep some order in our lives. I took the help when offered for meals so that we could maintain a family dinner time, even in the very early days. I leaned on the support of my mom who was willing to do school/daycare drop off and pick up so that routine was never interrupted and that I didn’t have to get three people ready to get out the door in the morning. Planning how these every day tasks would be accomplished once baby arrived was a big piece of keeping my sanity and helped assure me that caring for two could be done, especially if I was willing to accept help.
5. Baby Talk
Talking about the baby, what he or she would be like, what things would change or stay the same, and what we would do once the baby arrived was so important for our family. Children tend to be creatures of their expectations so when they get an idea in their minds, it is often hard to accept when the reality is not what was expected. Setting the scene for our daughter and talking about the baby on a daily basis made it feel real for her and also prepared her for what life may be like. Talking about different roles and expectations with my husband ahead of baby’s arrival was also very helpful as I knew that different tasks and emotions would fall on each of us and we needed to be prepared to work together. There were still some rude awakenings for all of us once he was born, but we were at least braced for the changes.
The bottom line is, this is not your first rodeo. You know more about raising a baby than you did the first time around and are more aware of what it takes to be a parent and raise a child. Most importantly though, you know that all the planning will never truly prepare you, that your list will likely never be complete in time, but in the end, you will figure it out, day by day, and it will be all be ok. So cheers to you and baby #2, because you’ve got this!
Katie is a new mom of two and will be sharing her experiences in parenting a toddler and a newborn though this series “New with Two”.