It’s So Much Different the Second Time Around

Shew!!! In case you haven’t noticed, half the SmartyPants bloggers have been busy giving birth over the past few weeks. I’m not promising to be officially back from “maternity leave”, but I thought I’d gift the world with a short sloppy post about all the ways I’ve decided to change my style between baby #1 and baby #2, two and a half years later.

Just a note, I don’t claim that I know what I’m talking about in any way, shape, or form.  There’s nothing like having a newborn in the house to remind you how little you know about anything!  If this post is of any value at all to you, perhaps it will be to help you develop a postpartum plan.  We put so much thought and effort into birth plans, but I’d argue that what happens in the three months AFTER birth should require much more attention.  You can’t plan everything, but thinking about your style, what sacrifices you may or may not be willing to make, and the unique circumstances you may be facing in that first couple months before “normal” sets in, can go a long way in making life with your newborn GOBS less stressful!

Feeding on Demand and Crying it Out
With #1 we did our darndest to get our baby on a feeding “routine”. Practically every pediatrician and lactation consultant will tell you that nursing on a schedule is a bad idea, but the fear of the inevitable life changes had us clinging to scheduling method that PROMISED us a baby that would sleep through the night by 8-12 weeks. Several close friends we love and respect swore by this method, but 11 months later, our kid still had never slept through the night!

This time, I’m just going on the assumption that out kid won’t sleep through the night for a year or more and I’m sticking some sort of food in his mouth almost any time he fusses! Ironically, his feedings have turned out to be far more predictable than our first son’s ever were! I track them with the iBaby Feed app for iPhone, and he seems to nurse like clockwork throughout the day!

Rocking, Wearing, Soothing
With #1, we were taught “Fed and dry?  Let him cry!”  Oh goodness!  Some folks would say that’s just plain cruel, others say it’s the first step to proactive parenting.  Either way, it was probably way harder on us than it was on our baby!  This time, we’re just not up for being punished!  Having a newborn is hard, being a newborn is hard…  But it’s all much, much easier when we just keep everyone happy.  It’s still inevitable, especially with two children, that the baby will cry himself to sleep on occasion, and while that’s not my preference until #2 is older, it feels like a good balance that my baby has the opportunity to cry and learn to put himself to sleep when our toddler has a more urgent need.

But on the whole, I’m spoiling this kid rotten! Pacifiers, rocking chairs, and when all else fails, the Moby Wrap! And plenty of that skin to skin contact that gets the oxytocin hormone flowing! Not only does oxytocin help with the bonding process, but I try to hold the baby close to my face and chest every time I start to feel that weepy anxiety we call the baby blues! So far they’ve been far less severe than they were with #1!  (Word of warning though, the skin-to-skin contact was SO effective at first that holding my infant felt like holding some sort of poisonous tree frog or something!  Every time I’d pick him up or stroke his face I was met with instant, horrible contractions!  Good for healing, but YOWZA did they hurt!)

Bottles! Quick!
Call me crazy, but I’m way more paranoid about getting a baby that won’t take a bottle than getting a baby with nipple confusion! I remember all too well the three week mark when we finally allowed my husband to give #1 his very first bottle! Freedom! I could go places alone, again! If something were to happen to me, my child would still be capable of eating! It seems like a silly thing, but this tiny bit of independence means so much to me that I’ve had kiddo switching back and forth between breast and bottle since 1 week old! No problems yet!

Slow Down!
With my first, I had this drive to jump right back into life ASAP. With this one, I’m at least TRYING to take it slow and steady! I begged my parents to stay for two weeks, and they did. I’m happily accepting prepared meals from friends at church. (Cooking is my least favorite chore!)  I’m being a horrible daughter-in-law by asking my husband’s parents to wait till Thanksgiving to meet the baby.  (Thank goodness for FaceTime!)  And, generally, I plan to do the minimum of my responsibilities for at least the first six weeks.  Right now, my days aren’t really starting till noon, when the coffee’s had time to take full effect.

Other Random Stuff
For having already gotten one child to survive into toddlerhood, you’d think I’d know what I’m doing with a baby, but there’s still just so much I’m learning for the first time!

Kangaroo care, for example, is this thing they did at birth with #2 that they didn’t do with #1.  As soon as the baby was born, they slipped him into a “pocket” they had formed with my hospital gown, so that his first hour was spent skin to skin on my chest.  All examinations and pricks and eyedrops were done right there on my chest, and frankly, it was a really pleasant bonding experience.  My poor husband, however, went two or three hours before he got his chance to hold the baby!  I didn’t even realize it!

The umbilical stump is another great example.  I’m totally freaked out and grossed out by this part.  With my first, I applied rubbing alcohol around the base with every diaper change.  With my second, when I asked where my alcohol swabs were, the nurses said, “Just don’t touch it!  It will take care of itself!”  Man!  Newborn diaper changes are complicated enough (especially with a circumcision)!  I wish I would have known I could skip the umbilical stuff with #1!  It seems like such a small thing, but any tiny bit to reduce our stress level is invaluable right now!

And nursing?  I’ve found the kiddo latches on better when I support him with my arm and not the Boppy pillow!  Oh, I still use the Boppy, but we’d better get him hooked on good beforehand or I’m just asking for soreness!  Also, skipping the lanolin cream has helped me heal up from soreness faster!  It’s weird, but I guess what I needed was more air circulation!  Also, I’m keeping all the information for local lactation support close at hand this time around!

So, there you go!  If you’ve had more than one, what changes did you make the second time around?  Were you able to make those newborn days easier with a little experience under your belt?  Do you have any tricks and tips to share?

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