After 15 months of virtually no sleep, my friend D and his wife decided to call in the big guns: a sleep trainer had been appointed, and finally, rest returned to the sleep deprived family.
I an attempt to be funny, I suggested to the panda-eyed father that now would be a good time to get #2 going – only to be almost knocked over by his answer, yes, the question was definitely out there. With a pleading look in his eyes he asked me “how hard can it really get?”
Well, dear D, the answer is VERY HARD.
We have been unlucky in the way that the Pea has been ill for the first three months, not sleeping and not feeding properly. But in the grand scheme of things, we have been incredibly lucky, of course. A spot of undiagnosed reflux is annoying but a far stretch from being a serious problem. And as soon as she was on the meds, we all started to get better.
Still, having number two was so much harder than I could have ever imagined. Emotionally, I found it much easier to adjust to adding another child to the family than the adjustment from no child to one child; but I haven’t been prepared for a long list of side effects nobody seems to tell you about. Like:
- There might be moments you are resenting your firstborn, who so far has been the one and only apple of your eye. E.g. when she screams and shouts while her baby sister is trying to feed/fall asleep
- Your firstborn might fall in love with her baby sister, but she might have moments she is resenting you for not being there for her exclusively (cue sobbing mother, wailing “she doesn’t love me anymore”)
- If you’ve been so far spared from mother’s guilt, now is your time to shine. Guilty will be your new middle name. Let the baby cry a little to finish the puzzle with firstborn? Guilt! Tell the firstborn to play alone (again!) to feed the baby in peace? Guilt! And so it goes on and on
- The physical exhaustion is undreamed-of. Looking after a baby plus chasing after an active toddler is unbelievably tiring. Like being hit by a bus, then a tractor, then a lorry, a van, a 4×4, same bloody bus again… You get the drift
- The mess. Oh. My. God. The. Mess. Two children don’t double the mess one child makes. They raise it to the power of infinity
- The concept of time to yourself completely flies out of the window. Whereas I used to write when L was sleeping, I now find myself spending quality time with her. And if I don’t, I clean up the perpetual mess (see above)
What would you add to the list?