Easier or harder? Life as a mom of two

First week with two

Baby 2 is 9 days old and we’re deep in newborn territory. During my entire pregnancy, I found myself comparing Baby 1 and Baby 2, and of course, I continue to do so. I prowled pregnancy forums after Googling things like, “Gestation duration first baby vs. second,” “Linea nigra first pregnancy but not second,” etc.

I also hounded every mom of more than one kid I know to get her take on whether the second time around the block was easier than the first. (I got mixed messages, but usually “harder.”) So far I’ve found that it’s both easier and harder.

So in a quick recap of the last nine months, and the last five days, I thought I’d run down what has been harder, easier, or just wildly different about my first and second children, just in case it’s interesting fodder for another second time mom-to-be someday. (Of course, making no promises that your pregnancies or babies will be even remotely like mine.)

First Trimester


My first trimester this time around was definitely harder. I had more in the way of morning sickness (still no vomiting, fortunately, but loads more nausea) and didn’t have the luxury of as much free time, as I was chasing around a 15-month old at the time.

On the bright(?) side, I didn’t have food aversions like I did the first time around, so I had no problem eating… or packing on some early pounds.

Second Trimester


I felt pretty good during the second trimester, but having a toddler is still way more physically taxing on a pregnant body, even when you feel good. I know I spent a lot more time getting down and up from the floor with my second pregnancy than my first. And was far more worn out because of it.

Third Trimester

(Way, way harder.)

Same issues with toddler chasing and just not having as much free time to relax as I did when I was pregnant with the first baby. Because I wasn’t getting as much exercise, I avoided the hip bursitis I developed the first time around, but I also gained a little more weight, am two years older, and just generally more prone to joint pain. So by about 36 weeks with Baby 2, I felt immensely more pregnant than I did at the end of first baby’s pregnancy.

One night, after my least favorite midwife told me I had better “try spinning babies” because my baby *might* be sunny side up, I got fully stuck lying flat on my back with my feet propped up on the couch, both crying from the pain and laughing at how ridiculous I felt (and probably looked) as the husband gingerly tried to reposition me so I could get up. When my toddler threw stuff on the ground, it felt like a personal attack. Getting him down for a nap was torture.


Shorter, maybe a little easier? (Not less painful, to be clear.)

While the pain was just as unbelievably intense the second time around as the first, knowing just how hard it was going to get (and that there was an upper threshold, and that I could survive it) made labor and delivery a little easier this time around. Having a big tub of warm water to labor in was really nice, too. While my movement wasn’t restricted too much at the hospital I delivered Baby 1 at, I was grateful to have switched to the birthing center.

Also, I made clear that I didn’t want any sort of directed pushing, and letting my body guide the pace felt a lot more productive. I also avoided the tearing, as well as the burst blood vessels in my eyes and face, further indication that pushing this time around was far gentler on me than the first time.

Postpartum recovery (so far)

Easier and harder

I’m still a little achy, and having to take it easier than I’d like, but I feel pretty good overall. The Husband got me a FitBit for Christmas, and I’ve noticed if I exceed about 5,000 steps a day, I get sore and my bleeding picks back up.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep my feet up and relax with a two-year-old demanding our attention, even though The Husband is picking up all my slack these first few weeks. So while I left the hospital feeling better than I did, and other factors are considerably easier this time around, it’s way harder to rest as much as I should.


So much easier (thank heavens)

I had a really rough time with breastfeeding the first time around. I told the lactation consultant at the hospital this time that my first baby’s latch seemed infinitely stronger and more painful than Baby 2’s. She asked me if anyone had recommended chiropractic care/cranial sacral massage (no), that my first baby could have had a tight jaw from childbirth that made his latch so strong.

It was oddly disappointing to hear a potential solution for an issue that ended up causing me so much angst and pain; I wish I’d had that advice the first time around. But that’s neither here nor there now, as Baby 2 is latching perfectly, I have had no pain to speak of, and am optimistic that I’ll dodge most of the breastfeeding complications I remember from last time.



When Baby 1 wouldn’t sleep without being held, The Husband and I struggled enormously with the decision to co-sleep. It was the only way to secure more than a couple broken hours of rest each night, and when I found myself nearly falling down the stairs carrying the baby one morning because I was so tired, we finally decided to go for it, as safely as we could.

Even so, I felt terribly guilty and ashamed. We were obviously prioritizing our own comfort over the baby’s safety. I wasn’t tough enough to do things the “right” way. We lied to our pediatrician. I endlessly fretted to my mom friends. I imagined our decision had doomed us to a years-long sentence of a kid sleeping in our bed, if he survived.

But you know what? It worked out fine for us. I got rest, we maintained an excellent breastfeeding relationship, and before Baby 1 was a year old, he was sleeping in his own crib, in his own room, just fine.

So this time around, after the first night in the hospital when The Husband and I took two-hour shifts holding Baby 2 while the other slept, because he wouldn’t stay asleep in his bassinet, I unceremoniously brought him to our (again, set up as safely as possible) bed. Every night since, I’ve averaged (again, thanks to FitBit data) at least 6.5 hours of sleep each night. It’s way harder to “sleep when the baby sleeps” with a toddler in the house, so this has been vital for my well-being (and thus my ability to care for both kids).

I’m not saying cosleeping is right for everyone. If your baby sleeps fine alone, and/or you function all right on very little sleep, the bassinet is probably the better choice. But bedsharing is working out for our family, and I’m not remotely ashamed of our decision this time around.

Keeping Up with Milestones and Traditions

Harder, of course

With Baby 1, I diligently took week-by-week photos, had already half filled out his baby book, and was glued to his side watching for every first (first smile! first diaper blowout!) I also had knitted a baby blanket that was finished by the time I hit my third trimester. I had birth announcements pre-designed and plenty of time to set up a photo shoot in the week after we came home.

Of course, this time around, I finished the baby blanket the day I went into labor (and frankly, I cut it off a little early so it’s more of a wide baby scarf), the baby book remains untouched, and my monitoring of firsts is far less precise. My house is too messy to take photos for a birth announcement I have considered only in theory.

That’s just how it goes when there are two kids. And while I’m getting in as much snuggle time as I can with Baby 2, I am often simultaneously building with blocks or reading books to The Toddler. My days are fuller, and while I honestly couldn’t conceive of it before Baby 2 arrived, my heart is fuller, too. Things are harder, but I’m happier.

Easier or harder? Life as a mom of two

Ask A New Mom: Part 2 with Melissa at I Crashed the Web

Last week I kicked off a series of interviews with old friend, new mom (and fellow blogger, though fellow implies we are equals and she is way better and more prolific than I am in this sense) Melissa.

Melissa and I (and two of our other new-mom friends)  have been texting back and forth about new mom problems (#momprobs?) the past week or two, and they have centered mainly around sleep. Yes, the thing that is incredibly boring for people to read about if they’re not in it, but the thing that has more power over your life than almost any other element of parenthood. Of the four babies I know, one is still a newborn with erratic and unpredictable sleep (Melissa’s); the only girl of the pack, formerly a through-the-night unicorn who merely flirted with daytime naps, is now waking up to “chill” several times a night at five months old; one has been successfully Ferberized and wakes up a few times a night to eat but goes down easy — and naps up to four times a day still at almost eight months; and one, my one, is sleeping 11-12 hours a night and has decided this week that one nap is plenty for him, thanks.

Or at least, this is what I decided is happening yesterday after reading from my own personal advice column/bible Advice Smackdown on AlphaMom.

Here’s an adorable picture I took of how he sleeps now. You know, once a day, if I’m lucky. Everyone keep your fingers crossed I find time to shower today!

Child's pose
Child’s pose… *that’s* why they call it that.

Anyway, here are a few more Q&As from her present, my distant past, on newborn life.

Here’s part two, with Melissa from I Crashed the Web.

Melissa, her husband B, and baby FW enjoying Cleveland Pride at Public Square.


Part Two: The Newborn Life

Development/growing check-in: How old is FW right now, and what’s he up to?

FW is 6 weeks!

[Update: He’s like 9 weeks now. I hope Melissa will update us in the comments with what 9 weeks is like, but I wanted to commemorate the 6-week-old FW in this post since that’s still very newborn.]

He’s probably in the middle of another growth spurt (he’s eating, sleeping and crying a lot) but when he’s awake and not cranky he is enjoying his playmat and his bouncy chair. He likes his pacifier and most of the time likes when I sing to him. He has started smiling, which is a ton of fun (and don’t tell me it’s just gas) and he loves looking in the mirror.

You’re in the middle of maternity leave. How are you feeling? What are you thinking about as going back to work draws nearer?

It is a bittersweet feeling – I’m finally feeling like FW and I are bonding and we’re getting in the groove of things together but now we’re more than halfway through! I know that going back to work will be good for both of us, but it’s something I can’t think about now without getting a little choked up. I am just trying to enjoy every minute of my days with FW!

Newborns are scary! What was hardest for you to get the hang of: Diapers, clothes changes, baths, breastfeeding…?

Baths. They scare me. In fact, I haven’t given FW one yet- no, he’s not a stinky baby, it’s just become “father-son bonding time” (really so I don’t have to do it. I hope B isn’t reading this and catching on…).

Thanks again to to Melissa for letting me grill her. Don’t forget to head over to her blog to see my own answers to some of these questions (and then go find out WTF Freekeh is and make yourself some curry!) And tune in next Friday for the final part of this interview series – Part Three: Parenting philosophy and self reflection.

Ask A New Mom: Part 2 with Melissa at I Crashed the Web

Impulse parenting! Or, my big sleep training mistake and the subsequent crushing guilt

I am writing this on my phone from underneath a baby who will. Not. Sleep. Unless he is latched on and nursing. It is nap.one of the day, following a bedtime that pulled the rug out from under him and left the entire household wrecked.

As I mentioned, The Baby is rocketing through milestones quicker than a greased weasel down a waterslide  (that idiom could use some work, sorry). Anyway, his naps have been shit and I am usually a defeated husk of my former self by Thursday afternoon when I don’t get naptime reprieves. Yesterday I listened to the Sleep Training episode of One Bad Mother, and while I’ve in the past concluded my baby is a tension increaser, crying it out feels cruel and I want to help him gradually transition to sleeping in his own crib, this episode filled husk-me with new hope. Jodi Mindell sounded so reassuring, so convincing. And the host described a sleep training experience of a night or two of brief crying followed by blissful crib sleeping forever and ever, amen.

I didn’t realize it, but the reptile brain that had taken control of me decided, “Hey, you haven’t had time to look further into this or hatch a plan or even let The Husband know you’re considering this, and The Baby is obviously going through sleep regression that makes things 100 times harder than usual, but maybe you should JUST DO IT.” I think the last vestiges of logic snapped when I saw The Baby on the video monitor, standing in his crib about to trip in his sleep sack. His development was outpacing my plan for gradual adjustments.

After a few minutes of him crying (while The Husband looked at me with a look of confusion and concern), I went in his room, shut the door behind me, stripped him out of his sleep sack, spent a minute rocking him, then put him in his crib and settled in to try to help him cry himself to sleep.

I had no clock with me. No plan. I just tried to keep repeating comforting words (“Night night, baby. Shhhh, shhhh. I love you. I’m here. Time for night night.”)  While rubbing his back or tummy. I’m sure he couldn’t hear me, though, because his cries turned into wails and shrieks and coughs. He kept standing and reaching for me and I kept trying to lie him back down and help him settle.

There were a couple times it seemed like he was winding down, but he always wound back up. Yet the more he cried the more on the hook I felt: If I didn’t see this through and help him fall asleep in his crib, I would just have let him cry himself into hysterics before reinforcing the sleep associations I was trying to break. I would have tortured him for nothing.

At one point, poor The Husband cracked open the door to try to figure out what in the hell I was doing and I waved him off angrily.

Finally, after what ended up being about an hour and fifteen minutes of sobbing that still was nowhere near subsiding, I took a quick bathroom break to gather my thoughts and see if my absence did anything to quiet Baby down. It did not. And The Husband was outside the bathroom door with a look on his face that made me feel terrible. I told him I was going in to “end this.”

Which meant I went back in, picked up my tear-soaked kid, rocked him in my arms and put him down asleep, or at least 99% of the way there. I had tortured him for nothing.

Feeling so defeated, I tried to explain my extremely half-baked idea to The Husband. He was upset and yet far more forgiving than I would have been if he’d unilaterally and impulsively tried to do what I had done. I had been high on the hope that this experiment would work.

Or at least that the crying jag would have worn The Baby out and he’d sleep a few hours. But no, after less than an hour he was back up, as usual. The Husband rocked him back to sleep, and when he woke up 10 minutes later I took him to bed and hoped he could absorb my apology through osmosis. We both slept soundly.

I know my biggest mistake was not going in with a plan. And I know there are tons of proponents of the “gradual extinction” method of sleep training who will tell me to climb back on this horse but to saddle up better first.

BUT GUYS. There are so many theories about babies and sleep! About cortisol and negative sleep associations and SIDS! Experts contradict one another at every turn of the page. I’m so tired and so full to the brim with mom guilt I can’t rationally evaluate all the options. Everything sounds hopeful, bit when I’m face to sopping wet face with my difficult sleeper, words on a page don’t feel like they have any power at all.

Ugh. I don’t have a tidy conclusion, let alone a solution, to this episode of The Baby’s Sleep Saga. I need some time to regroup. I need to strategize with The Husband. I need to take a nap myself.

Impulse parenting! Or, my big sleep training mistake and the subsequent crushing guilt