Photo and Words by Brittany Carlson
When I was pregnant with my second son, Jacob, everyone told me that having a second baby is easier than the first. “You already know what to expect,” they said. “You’ve done this already.”
To an extent, I did know what to expect: late nights, rocking and shushing, nursing again. I knew what to do (mostly) with one baby. What I didn’t know was what it would be like to have a baby with a toddler in the house.
Confident that I could handle adding a baby to our current routine, I signed my little family up for many of the activities I had enjoyed last year: mommy groups, playdates, gymnastics. I figured they would get us out of the house, and that Jacob could just come along for the ride, nursing and sleeping on the go.
If only it were that easy.
A month after Jacob’s birth (and after the initial honeymoon phase where he did, in fact, sleep whenever and wherever), I faced the reality of a very cranky baby that didn’t like napping in the stroller or car seat (as my older son, Adam had done) and I realized how much I had overcommitted. I had to put my toddler in front of the TV four times a day while I put the baby down for naps. I had to tell him “Sorry, buddy, I can’t play with you right now. I’m trying to help your brother.” I had to make his bedtime faster and couldn’t lay down with him on nights when Jacob just wouldn’t settle. I felt so frantic, going back and forth between taking care of Adam and Jacob’s needs that I felt like I wasn’t doing a decent job of either.
And you know what? That’s when a lot of my mommy friends told me that this was completely normal, and that they struggled with the same issues after a second child. It was so encouraging to realize that I wasn’t an abnormal or subpar mom because I was struggling. It was also encouraging to hear that this is a just a season, and it won’t last forever.
So, while I’m in this crazy, frantic season with two littles who need all of me, all day (and sometimes all night), I’m trying to find the special parts of this time that are also only temporary, and won’t last. Soon, my baby won’t need me to rock him to sleep, and I’ll miss the sweet feeling of his tiny head on my shoulder, his completely relaxed little body in my arms. Soon, my toddler won’t want me to play with him all day because he will be with his friends, and I’ll miss him telling me I’m his best friend.
I cling to these thoughts as, little by little, we find our new routine. I try to let go of the guilt I feel when I let my son watch yet another episode of Daniel Tiger. I had to give up a few activities. Adam had to adjust to a little less one-on-one time, but I make a point of trying to make the time we do spend together special. And little by little, I don’t feel like such a crazy person.
I’m trying to treasure the sweetness of this season while I can.
Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and now has two sons, Adam (2.5) and Jacob (4 months). She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She and her family live in upstate NY.