A PSA to all friends, family and strangers who feel like commenting about the fact that I’m about to have my second (or third, or sixth) baby:
Having another child is not all doomsday. You make it sound like it will be when the first thing out of your mouth is warnings and unsolicited advice. The correct response to my telling you I’m pregnant again is, “Congratulations! How are you feeling?”
Stop reminding me how my schedule will change. Stop telling me to ”enjoy the time with my first now because it’s all about to change.” I don’t need your reminders of all the hard or bad stuff about having a second kid. I remember what having a newborn is like and I already assume it will be tougher in some ways because I have a toddler this time. I’ve already researched it all. I already know!
Instead, encourage me.
I’m already worried and kind of doubting myself, wondering if I remember how to take care of a newborn when I’ve been so used to a toddler. I need you to tell me how you knew me as a mom of one and you remember me as a mom to a newborn. Tell me you could see how I rocked it then and you’re sure I’ll rock it again as a mom of two.
Help me recall those sweet baby cuddles and how they’re great for releasing endorphins. Assure me those cuddles, as well as my toddler’s one-on-one cuddles, will uplift me when I get down.
I need you to point out how my older kid may have a hard time adjusting but once they do (because they all do, eventually), they will become the best little helpers. Focus on that part; don’t dwell on the ‘hard adjustment’ period. Say that my toddler won’t always hinder but will usually help me. And sure, our relationship will change but in so many ways, point out how it’s changing for the better.
Tell me, and then tell me again, that my love for my first won’t be halved to share with a second child, but will instead double in capacity.
Assure me there will still be time spent alone with my husband, even though there are two more needy hands added to our family. Again, you can point out that our relationship might change or evolve but isn’t that what every healthy, long-term marriage is supposed to do? So don’t make it sound like our adjusting and growing in capacity is somehow a bad thing.
Don’t raise your eyebrows and give a long, drawn out “wow” when I tell you I’m sure there will be more kids after this second one. Understand that what I think is a joy (a big family) might be different than your joy, and our differences are perfectly fine!
DO offer your help, without the appendage of, “You’ll probably need it.” And then follow through when I’m too proud, stubborn or just plain embarrassed to ask you for that help later.
Bring all the meals—if I’ve already made dinner for that night, I’ll use it tomorrow. Or I’ll freeze it for later; for when people inevitably stop offering to bring food, as if I should have figured out how to balance everything a mere 3 weeks after pushing a human being out of my body. (And bring the food in disposable containers so I’m not obligated to wash and return your dish, pretty please.)
Ask to pick my oldest up for a play date, even if you don’t have kids of your own. Hanging out with a kid brings out joy in yourself that, throughout your grownup responsibilities, you’ve forgotten is there. It’s amazing how going to a park with a 4 year old can cheer you up and make you remember what enjoying life on the simplest terms can feel like.
Ding dong ditch my favorite candy bar (but don’t actually ring my bell; a knock that won’t wake my kids or set my dog off barking is preferred). Chances are, especially in those early days of adjusting to life with two kids, I won’t want to invite you in for a long catch-up chat. I probably won’t even be dressed or have showered that week. But the random treat I’ll find is the perfect small act of kindness; a tender mercy I won’t have realized I really needed.
I’m about to have my second child and not too far underneath all of that excitement is actual terror. Believe me when I say I’ve thought of every way in which my life will become more difficult in this following year. Most of what will be hard I won’t be able to prepare for and I’ll have to learn as I go. So because I am painfully aware of this, I don’t need to hear every passerby remind me of it. Instead, I need to hear the good, since there’s plenty of that, too.