The second time around

I’m only 8 weeks in, but I find parenting much easier the second time around.

Of course, having a preschooler to take care of adds to the burden and we don’t have as much down time as we used to. There is always something to do and someone asking for your attention. But we are also much more relaxed and we seem to be avoiding some of the mistakes we made with our son.

For instance, the fact that we came home from the hospital right after the birth definitely allowed us to be more rested in the first few days, which can be so daunting. Our daughter has been much easier to deal with at night than our son, and a big part of it is probably temperament, but we could talk about nature vs nurture all night – the fact that we have experience may have made things easier too. I have not been as exhausted as I was with my son, when I had trouble opening my eyes at night to pick him up for a feed.

We also have more realistic expectations… With my first child, I was hoping he would be one of the easy ones who sleep through the night really young. He wasn’t. This time, I was just hoping I would survive the sleepless night. And so far, I have been getting enough sleep to function properly. My rating system has changed, and my frustration with the situation is thus lessened.

We also don’t sweat the small stuff as much. With our son, I remember panicking when his skin started peeling in the first week. We wondered if our soap was to blame and tried different ones. But it was just normal adjustment from living in water to living on dry land. When my son fussed at the breast, taking a few sips, then spitting out the nipple and screaming, I used to worry: do I have enough milk? Too much? Does it taste wrong? Does he have gas? This time, when our daughter does the same thing, we understand that she’s just tired and we put her to sleep.

When our daughter started refusing to nap unless we vigorously bounced her around the house in her carrier, we had our experience behind us and we decided there was no way we could do that for the next several months. We understood that if something is not sustainable, it should be avoided if at all possible. We started working harder on having her nap in her crib at least once a day, and lo and behold, it worked! We can even sometimes put her down when she’s only partially asleep, which we were not able to do with our son until he was much, much older.

I’m not saying everything is easy. We still get those moments of “Is something wrong with her – or us?” Like this morning, when I was trying to put her to sleep and she had a huge fit, crying her eyes out and trying to wriggle out of my arms. I started questioning myself… Maybe she’s not really tired? Well, five minutes later, she was in bed, passed out, and she slept for over an hour.

In the first few weeks after our son was born, I remember wondering how people could do this with a toddler to take care of. Now I know the answer: they do it differently. And it works just fine.

Now we’ll see if I still think the same in a few months. But so far, so good!

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