The Transition From One To Two Kids: The First Six Months
Remy has been in our lives now for six months and I thought it would be good to reflect on how the transition from one to two kids has gone so far.
Spoiler alert: it’s been HARD. Depending on who you ask, the transition from one to two kids is the hardest, zero to one is the hardest, or three is. Each person and family is different, and for me I can definitely say that adding another baby into the mix was harder for me than having my first one.
For me, babies are easy. They sleep, eat, and go to the bathroom. They can’t move around. I’ve also been blessed with two fairly easy babies, so I can understand parents who may not agree with me. A colicky baby who can’t communicate can easily be harder than an older child who can.
Although these first six months have been challenging (much more at the beginning than now), I want to do an update in another six months because I envision that having two toddlers will pose its own set of issues and challenges. Stay tuned!
Some things are easier
After I had Remy, and being a second time mom, there were things I made decisions about much quicker. The moment they wheeled the breast pump into my hospital room, I cried and decided that I wanted nothing to do with it. No six weeks of back and forth decisions; my mental health could not handle trying to breastfeed again and thankfully the decision to formula feed was made and I could move on.
I knew how to change her, how to put her to sleep, and essentially keep her alive. Everything was fine on the baby front; it was now the uncharted toddler territory that required more learning. I think I’ve done a good job at focusing on Miles and his development, and it almost seems like the baby duties were just done on autopilot.
There were some things that I realized after having a second baby and one of those is that I’m not a huge fan of the newborn stage. Now experiencing what a growing toddler is like, I can say I definitely prefer that. It doesn’t mean I care any less for Remy, but I’ll be happy when she’s a little older. Familiar baby smells of formula and diaper cream hit me and I was happy when she finally graduated from swaddles to a simple sleep sack that required one zipper instead of zippers and velcro and wrapping precision.
While I was able to do a lot on my own with only one baby, two kids required help. Given the intensity of my recovery, I needed help carrying, lifting, and anything that put stress on my incision. It was difficult to not be able to pick up a toddler who constantly wants you to hold him, but we got through that and I managed by sitting on the floor a lot with him.
I became much more efficient in delegating tasks to Neil because there wasn’t any time to hope that maybe he will know what needs to be done or read my mind. Directions became clear cut – “I need you to make formula” or “I need you to do bedtime tonight.” There is no glory in trying to do everything by yourself and it will quickly lead to burnout if you try.
Props to the single parents – multiple kids or even one – you’re rockstars.
My attention is split
This was one of the hardest ones for me, especially since it took so long for me to feel a connection with Remy. Since she was so small and needed to work on growing, it was advised that she basically just eat and sleep for the early days at home. On one hand this was good because it allowed me to give Miles the attention he needed with a new baby in our family, but on the other, I feel like it probably delayed our bonding even longer. I found myself preferring time with Miles because he was more interactive and learning new things every day. Once I started feeling that connection, though, I wanted to be around her more as well and didn’t harbor as much guilt.
I am not the best multitasker. I do very well with one task carried out to completion. Two kids requires all kinds of stop and go, and I’d often find containers of formula half made or a dirty diaper that I had thrown into the washing machine (and washed) instead of the trash. It’s funny in retrospect, but my mind and my stress levels don’t do very well in such a constant state of jumble. As we’ve gotten into more of a routine, things have gotten a little more organized, but there are definitely still times when things happen all at once and I feel like I may melt down with everyone else.
The needs are nonstop
Babies are great because you can do whatever you want with them — take them with you on outings or plop them in a chair when you take a shower. Most of the time, while they are still young, they just fall asleep wherever. When you have a toddler in this mix, however, things can quickly become chaos.
Toddlers have opinions. They don’t care that you’re tired from waking up to feed the baby. They need to be watched pretty closely. They want waffles and how dare you serve them PANCAKES instead. Not only do you need to worry about changing, feeding, and paying attention to a new baby, but you have to attend to the needs of your first baby as well.
Often, I would put Miles to bed, which for a couple weeks took a long time because on top of his normal bedtime routine, he would want me to hold him and sing to him before putting him back down. Once I was done with that, I would come down to a fussy baby who then needed to be fed and put to sleep herself. It felt like as soon as you had done everything for one child, you would turn around and the second needed you like clockwork.
When we brought Miles home, we both had time off from work and it was such a fun time to spend with Neil. As newborns do, he slept a lot and we binged all sorts of TV series and had a lot of quality time together. This wasn’t an option with a second because in addition to a newborn, we also had an energetic toddler. It helped that he went to daycare a couple days a week, but it still wasn’t quite the same.
I also learned about the term “out touched” after having a second baby. I wondered why after a full day with both kids that I simply wanted to be alone and have no one touch me. Hours of holding a baby, holding a toddler, having a toddler spit his food out in your hand and wipe his dirty hands on you can be a lot — especially for someone who is generally introverted like I am. As much as I love my kids, I also need time by myself to recharge, so it made things difficult when the kids would be in bed and Neil would be done with work. Some days it wouldn’t be an issue, but on others I just needed to be by myself — even if that just meant sitting on the opposite side of the couch while we watched a movie. (Side note: always communicate things like this with your partner so that they can understand what’s going on).
Much less prep + expense
This was one of the easiest parts of the transition from one to two kids. Having a second child requires much less initial expense. We reused the mini crib that Miles used as a baby, the changing table (which I don’t think I really ever changed her on), swaddles, outfits, etc. We needed very little when she came along, which was great. We already knew what worked for us from when we had Miles, so the transition of bringing her home from the hospital went smoothly and relatively stress-free.
The bond is fun to watch
When we brought Remy home from the hospital, Miles was freaked out that she moved because he was used to the baby doll we had gotten him in preparation. He didn’t really care that much about her, but he knew he did NOT want to touch her (ha). As they’ve both gotten older, he’s been such a big help with her and you can tell that he’s more and more comfortable with her. He will touch her now and play with her and I’m excited to see how their relationship evolves over this next year. I think this is one of the coolest things in the transition from one to two kids.
Mental health is a priority
I definitely struggled more mentally after Remy than I did after Miles. I felt apathetic and like I was simply going through the motions. I didn’t feel sad and I didn’t feel happy. It wasn’t that I was neutral about things; it was like I felt nothing at all. I didn’t feel like myself and I knew that given my history of depression, I needed to make sure that I kept an eye on how I was feeling. I found ways to attend to my own needs, even if it was a little at a time. I wrote. I took walks in nature. I did the things that I knew normally helped me like talked to people close to me about what was going on. I stayed on my antidepressant throughout both pregnancies, so I was already covered in that area. Eventually, the fog started to lift and I felt more like myself again.
A little advice: as with any pregnancy and delivery, make sure to pay attention to how you’re feeling. Perinatal depression is far more common than you may think and you should absolutely seek help if you need it. Pay attention to any differences you notice, because depression is not the only thing that may affect you. Things like postpartum rage and OCD also occur quite frequently after having a baby. Make sure to take care of yourself so that you can take care of those who depend on you.
If you have more than one, I’d love to know about your transition from one to two kids – or any combination. What did you find easy? Difficult?