There are pros and cons for the second and subsequent child. On the “pro” side, Mom has a better idea of what she’s doing. When I had my second, the breastfeeding challenges I experienced with my first were merely a memory. When my second cried, I knew how to soothe her. She got a better mom than her sister did just 18 months prior. What she didn’t get, however, was the same fanfare. While I agreed none of it made sense at the time, I instantly missed it the moment she was born.
With my first, we had four baby showers. Four! It was excessive, no doubt, but we had that many groups of people wanting to celebrate the birth of our baby. With my second, we had none. We just moved to another state, were not near family and hadn’t made many friends, and didn’t need anything. Still, I really wanted one.
It wasn’t about gifts or attention. I just felt like this new little life was just as important to me as the first one we created and I wanted to rejoice. Even the nurses at the hospital had a “she’s been there, done that, and she’s fine” attitude. My sadness about it all was deep and almost immediate.
Looking back, there were things I wish I had done differently to keep myself from feeling like my second child got the raw deal.
1. Do the things you did with your first baby.
Did you do a maternity photo shoot or make a belly cast? Do those things or similar things with your second or subsequent pregnancy. During my first, I kept a detailed journal. During my second, I kept a spotty journal, at best. My excuse was valid. I didn’t have as much time. But the truth was that I didn’t pay as much attention to that second pregnancy. Sometimes, especially during the second trimester, I would almost forget.
2. Go through all the motions.
Take a hospital tour with your partner. Read books. Take belly shots. Write a birth plan. Whatever you do, don’t skate through it. This whole deal is as magical the second time around. Sometimes it just takes us slowing down to remember that.
3. Host a shower, sprinkle, or sip n’ see.
I’m just going to say the things you’re not supposed to say. If someone offers to throw you a party, take them up on it. If not, host one for your addition. Keep the focus off gifts and more on the joy of this new little life. For those scratching their heads, a “sprinkle” is a party for subsequent children that’s typically held before the birth but is smaller than a shower. Necessities, such as diapers and wipes, are given as gifts. A “sip n’ see” is a party, often hosted in the parents’ home, after the baby is born for the purpose of having visitors come during one “open house” time frame. Guests often contribute food to share and gifts are not typical.
4. Get new things.
It’s very practical to buy loads of gender-neutral items so they can be used again. It’s makes good sense to reuse everything you can from your first child. The problem is that doing so diminishes how special everything is. Even if it’s just a few things or if the items are just new to you, get them. You’ll treasure how they are unique to your new little one.
5. Take pictures all. the. time.
I likely have less than half the number of photos of my second child compared to my first. That’s completely not cool, but quite typical. With our phones no less than two feet from us at all times, there is no excuse!
6. Carve out time to just enjoy the new baby.
Everyone concentrates on making sure the older child feels loved and not left out, understandably. The older child is going through a major life change and sometimes they cling to anything familiar. I took advice I got at the time. Spend time with the older child because the little one doesn’t know the difference yet. While I still think that’s a good tactic for helping the older one adjust, I think it’s just as important to focus on the baby. Sometimes that happens in the middle of the night during a feeding, or other time when Big Brother/Sister is not around. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you deliberately enjoy it.
They grow up so fast. Whether this is your second, third, fourth or more child, intentionally enjoy every minute you possibly can!
Do you have more tips for making sure your second child’s birth is special?