A few days ago, I was talking to Sam, and was surprised to discover that he thought adding a second child to the mix was “exponentially – not just double – the work” (his exact words). I was shocked to hear this because my experience was so different! Whenever people ask, I usually say adding a second child was not that drastic a change because I was already doing everything I needed to do with one child anyway, and I also had a lot more confidence as a second time mom. I guess he didn’t feel the same way!
When people ask, I always say the first 6 months were the hardest because our newborn obviously needed a lot of attention, but so did our first since our kids are only 2 years apart. I struggled to keep Noelle entertained while stuck to my glider nursing Jaren. She just did not have the attention span and focus that she gained once she hit 3. Looking back now, Noelle was still so young when Jaren came around. On top of that, we were re-acquainting ourselves with the second go-round of sleep deprivation. That deserves a post all its own.
Even though those first 6 months were “the hardest”, it still did not seem that bad to me – definitely not anything like the first time. I was so much more relaxed and self-assured. Everything came back to me as if it were second nature. The things that kept me up at night with my first were a non-issue with my second. What worried me the first time, I knew it would all pass. So I let it all go. I took it day-by-day until the days turned into months. The months went by in a blur, and before I knew it, a year had passed.
The reason I didn’t feel like adding a child was double (much less exponential) the work was because everything I was doing for my first, I had to do for my second anyway. Once Jaren started solids and was able to sit up, it meant I could feed and bathe them together. He needed less focused attention from us since his sister was always around to entertain him too. As for errands and activities, we just dragged him along because we needed to go with his sister anyway. He learned to sleep in the carseat and stroller because we couldn’t be tied to the house all the time when his big sister needed tending to too.
And even though Sam experienced these same things, I realize now why he thinks it was exponentially harder. With the addition of our second child, we had to divide and conquer. It was not just “one or the other”. Noelle was always a mama’s girl, so when we only had her, it was natural for me to take on the bulk of the “work”. I nursed her for a year, I prepared most of her food, I bathed her, and put her to sleep each night.
Once Jaren came along, guess who ended up doing the majority of the toddler duties? Yup. The one and only hubby. He handled the pickups and drop-offs, bathed her, fed her, put her to bed… many of the things I used to do. With the constant nursing and pumping and night feedings, it made more sense for him to take those on. I’m grateful I have such an involved husband and father who took on these duties without complaint – to the point that I had no idea he felt it was exponentially more work to add a second child to our family until 2 years after the fact!
The funny thing is, I feel like our marriage is stronger than ever now with two. I had wondered if adding a second would cause some strain on our marriage, but the opposite occurred. There were times when I felt resentful when we only had our daughter because I was doing the bulk of it. Even though he helped a lot… a lot still fell on my shoulders. I wanted to let him be a daddy, but the truth of the matter was, it was easier said than done. Noelle was an extreme mama’s girl. When she threw tantrums because she couldn’t have me when I was obviously right there, I didn’t have the heart to not be there for her. There was definitely a gate-keeping dynamic going on.
Now, it truly feels like we are a team, doing this parenting thing side-by-side, and getting better at it as we go. Because I couldn’t be as present and available once Jaren came along, he took over all of it, and him and Noelle have developed such a strong bond. She is solidly in the Daddy camp now, and I don’t mind it one bit. I love seeing their relationship blossom. So thank you, Sam, for taking on exponentially more, so that I have been able to say that it was just a little more, and not a lot more work, with two.
Did you and your husband have different perspectives on adding an additional child to the family?