So, amazingly on 1st December 2015 we became a family of four with the arrival a wonderful, beautiful little boy called Arlo. He is bloomin’ marvellous and from the moment he squeezed out, our hearts instantly swelled. We obviously expected such instant love and happiness, but perhaps what we naively didn’t expect, having already had a child and after so many words of parental wisdom from people we know, is just how different and sometimes difficult it is with a second baby.
During my wife Georgia’s pregnancy we spoke with friends, work colleagues and random ladies at the checkouts in Waitrose who all merrily told us ‘oh it’s so much easier with number two’, ‘second baby is much calmer’, ‘everyone just mucks in’, ‘you’ll be so much more relaxed second time round’ and ‘you’ll be in and out of hospital before you know it’ – you get the idea. It’s easy with a second baby right? Hmm, maybe not.
From day one we’ve found things different to what we anticipated. Again, naively on our part, having done it once already with our daughter Edie, we wrongly assumed we knew what we were doing and what we could expect. From everything as big as the labour process to a simple burping technique, it’s been different. I’m not talking about apocalyptic struggles that question our parenting existence, just day to day differences that have surprised us a little.
For example, the labour couldn’t have been more different - Edie’s birth was rushed, panicky and stressful, whereas Arlo’s was long and drawn out – we were so bored we’d eaten all the food in the hospital bag before we’d even been seen by a midwife! I thought second births were supposed to be quicker (muscle memory and all that mumbo jumbo)?
Another huge difference is Arlo is a very sicky baby. He loves his milk, but 99.9% of it comes straight back up, giving his and our clothing a good coating of creamy puke. Lovely. Arlo gets through more outfits in a day than a Kardashian and our washing machine is probably the main contributor to climate change right now. I can’t emphasise just how different this is to Edie whose stomach must be lined with lead as she was never sick. This of course isn’t much of a stress as we’re wise enough to know babies are sick, that’s a fact, but the difficulty comes when you’re covered in puke, you can’t find that retched muslin you literally just had and your older child is whining because Netflix won’t work!
Then we come to the monster of all new born baby struggles; sleep, or should I say lack of it, especially for my poor wife Georgia. Like his sister, Arlo isn’t really one for sleeping so we kind of expected our darkened eyes, but, what is also difficult is getting a tiny baby to rest and then keeping him quiet whilst his older sister sleeps in her bedroom next door. A few times now Edie has been awoken in the night by Arlo’s cries – two children to deal with at 3am is not good!
Getting out of the house is a triumph in itself. The arsenal of equipment a new born requires just to venture past the doorstep amazes me. Add our 3-year-old dictator and a couple of dogs to the mix and leaving the house requires military planning!
Another consideration, and this one we did actually anticipate, is Edie’s jealousy. To be fair, this has been nowhere near as bad as it could have been and to even label it as ‘jealously’ is a little unfair on her as she’s been absolutely incredible. We’ve seen patience, kindness and obvious love for her little brother, but also have witnessed a couple of severe meltdowns, and when I say severe, I mean SEVERE! It’s fine considering the changes that have happened to her in the past few weeks – suddenly she’s not centre of our attention 100% of the time and that must be tricky for a small mind to deal with. Well done Edie! It could have been a lot worse and I salute other parents who may have dealt with larger bouts of this sibling struggle.
The logistics of having a second tiny human to care for has perhaps been the hardest challenge though. Keeping two children happy and content, fed, clean and entertained whilst also managing a house and a job, whilst trying to retain some level of affectionate marriage, I’m sure pushes even the best of us.
But despite the chaos and stress, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been a bit tricky here and there but perhaps we were foolish really for thinking it would be any easier second time round. We just count ourselves incredibly lucky to have two beautiful, healthy children.
To be fair, there are definitely some obvious differences this time which perhaps do make life easier – you worry less about minor issues and daily occurrences such as nappy changing, bath time and getting Arlo dressed are quick and easy, whereas with Edie we were complete novices in a world of yellow poo and fiddly baby-grow poppers! We also know that the sleep deprivation eventually goes and the incessant crying for no obvious reason won’t last forever. And thankfully we know, there will come a time when we can relax – it might be 21 years away yet, but it will come!
So, if you are planning on a second child, I can tell you, in my opinion, it might be a little harder than you anticipate – just because you’ve done it once before, doesn’t mean second time round is going to be any easier. But, and it’s a big but, it’s definitely 100% worth it, it’s bloody amazing in fact! I know in a few weeks’ time, when my memory is a little blurred, I’ll be that that apparent expert parent telling an expectant mum or dad just how easy it is second time round – yeah, actually, maybe I won’t.
Now, who’s going to tell me number three is a walk in the park?