Tummy and Tot: Tips for those expecting #2

I'm dedicating this post to those I know who are expecting that second baby.

So I have had a few people ask recently about pregnancy with baby #2 and a toddler (under the age of 2) in tow. The question always seems to be the same, “how did you do it?”

I laugh when I think about this now. I still remember the day I stood there looking at the positive pregnancy test. Alex was playing on our floor somewhat happy. I looked at the pregnancy test, and I actually started to cry and so did Alex. How was I going to manage this? Alex was 7 months at the time, and I was pregnant with baby #2.

Anyone reading this who is in the same boat or even if you spaced yours a little better, knows that it’s going to be hard and you will learn many things, but in the end, you will like the decision. You might decide you wouldn’t do it again (like I have), but you will probably learn to love the close ages of your kids.

I love that while my friends with 3-year olds are just starting to have second babies, my kids are already playing together. Not always nicely or fairly, but they can play together with Legos, dress up, playdoh, house, knights, spaceman, etc. I’m done with sleepless nights, should I choose not to have more kids. I’m done with Baby Bjorns, strollers for the most part and bottles. There are definitely pros to having kids close. And aren’t your old maternity clothes still in style?

Pregnancy is tough enough, but with a baby under one it can be a bit tricky. Here are a few suggestions for those taking the plunge:

Surround yourself with other moms who have 2 or more kids. Find someone a bit ahead of you in this game. You’d be surprised how many people out there have kids this close (under 2). They will be your best source for info. They are happy to provide you with tips on getting people out of the house or feeding the crew.

Find some kind of “child care” for your older child. No, I’m not talking about signing him up for daycare, but I won’t tell you how many days I longed to just go to work and let someone else deal with this. Find a mother’s morning out program, a preschool program for an 18-month year old, a gym with good child care or even a part time nanny. You don’t get a medal for doing this all yourself so get some assistance. Even a few hours a week to collect your sanity is worth it. Your older child will enjoy having a new face and other children to play with and you’ll enjoy the break. Do this early and introduce your older child to the situation before the baby comes.

Get a second crib. Borrow one, buy one used or whatever. If your child isn’t in a big bed, don’t push it. Cribs provide a safe place for your toddler. Cribs better ensure that naptime continues when new baby comes. Cribs mean you can put your child in there to read/play while you nurse or deal with a diaper change. If you can make it work financially, get another crib. You can always sell it later to another mom in need.

Gear can be overwhelming so wait and see what you need before you buy. I will tell you the one big thing that saved my life the first few weeks was the sling. The Baby Bjorn I used later, but with a sling I could feed the baby then she’d nap and then just hang out. All right there with me while I had hands for Alex. If I knew then what I know now, I would have invested in a great double stroller. Even after dropping $350 for my Mountain Buggy (my husband wants me to write Ode to the Mountain Buggy) I still wished I would have sold it and bought a Phil and Ted E3.

Get some extra help for the first few days/weeks after baby comes. I’m talking mom, sister, aunt, hired babysitter, etc. Those first few weeks are so hard feeding and dealing with a toddler who doesn’t understand this new life that has invaded on his territory. Most babies just eat and sleep, but you might be doing a lot of nursing and that can be hard when your hardly walking toddler needs something. Give yourself time to recover because you’ll need the energy and see if relatives or friends can pitch in with dinners or babysitting.

If your child isn’t on a nap/sleep schedule, get him on one. It will make things easier if you know you count on a nap and a good bedtime. I had friends that struggled with this and realized too late they should have done this before the new baby came.

If your child looks ready to potty train and shows interest, go ahead and do it. You may have some regression when the new baby comes, but at least the hard part is over. Trust me. It’s much easier doing this with only one child to focus on.

Take a vacation. This may sound like a crazy thing to do. We took a trip to Syria when Alex was 10 months old and I was 4 months pregnant. It was nice to get away from Qatar and see some sights. It was over a year before we could do this again. If you have a chance to take a long weekend—with or without your toddler—I recommend doing it. It’s a lot easier to travel with one than two.

At the hospital, let them take your new bundle the nursery to sleep. If you’re like me, I insisted my first born stay in the room the whole time. Poor Anna, I sent her away the second night just so I could sleep and get caught up for the next day when we went home. It was the best thing I did for myself.

I'd love to hear what other tips moms might have for those embarking on this great adventure.


kim said...

I'm totally waffling on the double stroller question... The one thing that bugs me about the Phil & Teds is the baby configuration (big kid on top, baby hidden away underneath) - it just seems so odd! (And of course, you'd have to keep moving baby from seat to stroller and back again.) It's a toss up between that and the Joovy Caboose right now... did your kids ever do a sit-n-stand? Did they like it?

Tracy said...

Linda, I didn't know you lived in Qatar! My sister and husband lived there and I visited them there in the spring of 2001. We also went to Jordan, which was great. When did you live there?

Carol Amie said...

I think your advice is right on: I didn't really need the double stroller until later...when I've got two mobile kids and need to get *anywher*e quickly. It's much easier to strap them in and just go than to try to drag an independent, limp toddler off the floor while carrying his squirmy 20 lb little sister out the door in the other arm. On the plus side, the screaming, crying jag that is always coming from at least one of them parts crowds and on-lookers like the Red Sea and makes for easier passage. You just have to learn to ignore all of the comments and observations they make about your parenting skills (not quite under their breath) and smile.
As for the sling, I love, love, love my sling. It is the absolute most important piece of equipment I ever purchased and I might need it more than my own appendages at this point. I started using it for my son when the baby belly was getting in the way of holding him in my arms and I still use it to lug my daughter around at 14 months when I need a spare hand, need to run errands during her morning nap (does the 2nd child's sleep ever really get the respect it ought to?) or just keep her away from the touchy, feely boredom of her brother.
And we're all about the 2nd crib. Did I feel a little bad that my 1st had a $1000 piece of beautiful furniture hand-picked by his loving grandparents while my 2nd sleeps in a hand-me-down cheapy? For a few weeks...then I realized that I didn't mind so much if she was going to chew up, spit on or otherwise destroy her bed and now I think that's the way to go. Afterall, you need to save that money for all the stuff you won't be receiving as gifts the second time around but need 2 of due to their spacing.

Cara Fox said...

kim - I have a SitnStand and love it (my kids are 17 months apart). In fact, I wish I'd skipped my double stroller altogether (I had the double Peg Perego Aria) and gone straight to SitNStand when my 2nd was born. It has a bar so you can use it with infant seats if you need to. It is affordable and fairly lightweight, and does the job great for me.

soccer girl said...

Great information! We recently delivered baby #3 just 2 weeks ago. We are lucky because child #1 is 14 and #2 is 2 years old. The double stroller may be something we invest in after the holidays. Our oldest is a great big help but I try not to ask him to do too much because I don't think it is fair to him. However, I did take my friends up on their willingness to help me out.