Having my first child was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – like literally. Why? Because things were the exact opposite with my second, considering that I was being thought of as a highly ‘experienced’ mother instead of ‘her royal highness who is pregnant for the first time’. Right from pregnancy to delivery and later, things simply weren’t the same. This actually made me pay close attention to even the smallest differences that exist between having baby # 1 and baby #2. Here are a few contrasts that I’d like to mention, but before that, I need to add that I loved, and continue to love both my little ones equally – be it my first or my second, life would be incomplete without them!
Oh, and before getting started, the differences I am about to state here don’t necessarily need to apply on every single mother out there. It’s what I have noticed on a personal level, and in no way means that all other mom’s in the world feel or will feel the same. And even with all of these differences, I am not a bad mother – my children are my world and I can’t imagine a day of my life without them.
10 Difference # : Pregnant belly pictures
Difference # 1: Pregnant belly pictures
When I was pregnant with my first, I ensured taking a picture every week to mark any and all developments in my pregnancy. To work out the changes taking place in my belly, the pictures were taken in the same place, while wearing the same outfit each and every time. At times, my husband even took several pictures so we could choose the best from amongst them all – it was sheer excitement. Seriously, to me (and even my husband to be honest), taking pregnant belly pictures was more like a ritual that we were obliged to perform – we would be sinning if we missed out on our weekly picture. I was all up and excited for the picture each and every week; all dressed up like there’s nothing else more important than this in the world. I mean, that was my baby developing inside of me and I deserved those photographs – and so did the baby. I felt beautiful and that’s all that mattered!
On the other hand, when it was time to take pictures for pregnancy #2, it totally skipped my mind. When a friend of mine reminded me about it, I was already 26 weeks into my pregnancy, bloated, and huge to the point that I just didn’t feel up to it anymore. Honestly speaking, I felt ugly and with all the running about to keep things going at home, and tending to my first baby, I just didn’t have the strength required to dress up and stand there posing with my protruding belly. Why the hell would my baby want to look at his sick-looking mother trying to act pretty with a pregnant belly? Eventually, there weren’t any pictures to show off for baby # 2, and now I am left wondering what I’ll say if the little one wants to see how I looked while carrying him! ‘Sorry baby, mommy was too ‘pregnant’ to even think about pictures?’ I can imagine his little broken heart!
Advice for all you 2nd time pregnant women – don’t miss out on the photos. Once your children grow up, you can:
- - Show them the collection and rejoice as a family
- - See the pictures yourself once your children are adults and moved out of your place – revive those memories!
- - Make sure your camera has Hi-Res capabilities for great looking shots
9 Difference # : Celebrations
When I got pregnant with my first one, I was literally being ‘ celebrated’. It felt like a true celebrity pregnancy, and to all those around me, I was like the world’s first pregnant woman. My family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and their pets treated me like royalty and showered me with gifts and what not. The baby shower was so much fun what with all of my besties attending it. When the baby arrived, my hospital room was PACKED with people, with even more waiting for me at home. My mother-in-law had actually cooked this delicious meal for me, while my mother packed my freezer with frozen food that I just needed to heat up whenever I got hungry. My friends dropped in occasionally and got me everything I needed or wanted. On the whole, I was a queen all through pregnancy, delivery and after.
Photo Credit: Taplin Photo
For the second baby, I only received congratulations over the phone, or when I came face-to-face with those who were all around me through the first pregnancy. I found myself wondering where everyone had run off to. Honestly, where were my friends, my family, my caring neighbors and colleagues? Where were the gifts? I went to the hospital for the delivery with my husband, and just a handful of people dropped by- honestly, just my mum, dad, a few of my in-laws, and my best friend. Oh and let’s not forget, there wasn’t any delicious meal waiting for me to consume it when I got home after the delivery. Worst of all, my mum didn’t bother this time with the frozen foods. I remember picking up lunch at a drive-in on the way back from the hospital and having to order food for the next two weeks. You can’t honestly expect me to cook every day with a new born and his elder sibling driving me crazy all day, right?
But even with that, here’s what I have to say to all of you:
- - Enjoy every pregnancy like there’s no other
- - Show off to all those around you just how excited you are for the baby – even if you’ve been through pregnancy before, doesn’t mean you can’t be excited about your second. Your loved ones are bound to catch up in the ‘excitement’ department.
8 Difference #: Ultrasound pictures
With every sonogram session, I found myself literally marveling over every single photo that I received. From working out his spine, and nose on a weekly basis (I actually researched the internet to find out all that my sonogram showed!) to imagining who he would look like, it was all so fascinating for me. Heck, I even scanned the pictures and uploaded them onto my Facebook account and framed them for both his daddy’s family and mine. I still have all the pictures set perfectly in an album in chronological order with me. Even after delivery, I remember going through the album over and over again, reliving my pregnancy and just being happy about it all. My loved ones ‘ooh-ed’ and ‘aah-ed’ over every ultrasound picture that they got to see and made sure that they were adequately decorated around their place – remember I framed them?
But, with baby two, I just didn’t have the strength to go through all that again. Instead of sharing them with my husband the moment he got home from work, I found the sonogram pictures deep within the confines of my bag, buried under packs of wipes, coloring pencils and left-over snacks. The pictures were never shared, and with that, the pictures never had the privilege of being uploaded on to my Facebook account – why would anyone want to see images of a fish cum alien cum baby looking thing and that too in a grainy image that didn’t make sense? Come to think of it, those close and dear to me had already been through it all before, so why force them into things all over again? I mean, all babies all look the same in their momma’s tummy’s right?
However, I think I went wrong and should have at least saved the sonogram pictures. If you are expecting your second baby and want to make him/her feel equally special, do this:
- - If your elder kid can help out, get him/her to frame the pictures with you – hand him/her smaller tasks so s/he will feel a part of it all
- - At least make an album and save the pictures in it!
7 Difference # : Eating
During my first pregnancy, I was extremely careful about what all I ate. All through it, I didn’t have a single drop of alcohol, stayed away from all sorts of cheese, didn’t even imagine eating sushi and cold cuts, and made sure that I only had two cans of tuna in a 10 to 12 day period. Why take the risk? To me, making sure that my baby is 100% safe was all that mattered. If I could ensure his safety by refraining from eating or drinking a certain something, I made sure I did so. I remember days when all I wanted to have was sushi and all I wanted to drink was wine, only to end up having a bowl full of salad and a bit of fresh juice. It was my baby in there and no craving in the world could get me to eat something hazardous!
Now for my second pregnancy, I bashed anyone who told me to keep an eye on what I ate, and considered all pregnancy related eating rules utter nonsense. Although I continued to remain a tad bit on the safe end, I had a little sushi every now and then, had beer (not too much!), didn’t keep track of my tuna-eating days, and consumed pasteurized cheese. All in all, I wasn’t the crazy pregnant lady who would freak out at the thought of contracting food-borne diseases. I mean seriously, what could go wrong? I know for a fact that there are countless women out there who eat and drink some of the most hazardous things to pregnancy, yet they deliver perfect babies. So, why would disasters strike solely unto me? On top of it all, at least I made sure that I acquired and fulfilled my daily nutrition requirement so things really weren’t THAT bad!
Although I binged out during my second pregnancy, the one thing similar between the two was that I ate a variety of foods to make sure that my body received adequate supplies of calcium, vitamins, zinc, and folic acid etc. – for the second, the sushi and beer just helped keep me sane!
6 Difference # : The baby’s ill!
My first child didn’t even have a simple sniffle all through the first precious year of his life. We were extremely careful with everything, and he never came in close range of anyone with even a basic flu. To begin with, we were extremely (I repeat, EXTREMELY) careful about where we took the baby, continually redirected people wanting to kiss him on the cheeks to touching his feet, turned into nags about hand washing, and regularly disinfected the entire house. To us, the only thing that mattered now was to ensure the overall health and well-being of our little one. The first winters after my delivery were like war – every single effort we ever put in was literally multiplied by a hundred just so the baby doesn’t catch a flu or something.
But my second baby was blessed to have an older sibling with severe infections and an exaggerated case of the runny nose. On top of that, there was nothing and no one in the world who could stop him from kissing his little brother over and over again. For this reason, he caught his first bout of flu in the first week of his life. Every single bit of disinfecting and hand sanitizing that we did turned fruitless somehow. What was the result? A few months later, the little guy literally threw a tantrum if he even sensed me bringing in the snot sucker. Let’s not forget, all three of us had to hold him down just to get that darned snot out!
After seeing his brother fall ill so bad, my toddler learnt a bit of a lesson. With time, he got about to making sure that he wiped his nose with a towel instead of his bare hands ( but not every child out there will learn this easily so keep an eye out on your toddler!). To make him follow this rule, we actually gave him small treats as a reward. This included healthy snacks of his choice in our case, but can be anything in the world – whatever can help with positive reinforcement. Also, we taught him not to sneeze on his brother’s face and wash his hands and feet thoroughly before even coming near him. I’m left to wonder why he didn’t listen right in the beginning!
5 Difference # : Nursing the baby
Oh yes, nursing was a dream with my first son. The best part is that I had great hopes that my breasts are going to go back to normal once we get past the nursing stage. I had all the time in the world, so it was never a rush job. To me, nursing my baby literally equaled heaven as it helped me bond with him, and well, it got me to fill up his teensy little stomach – that was cute! Once again, I was doing all of it with the simple hope that my breasts are going to get back to normal once all this is done with. Such disappointment awaited!
With all my hopes of having my ‘normal’ breasts back shattered, nursing was something I dreaded with baby # 2. The worst part is that with the elder one yelling on top of his voice for his meals, or that he needs to go to the loo, nursing was always a rush job! Seriously speaking, I believe this was a case of severe sibling rivalry as each time that the younger one needed to feed, my elder son just had to have this tantrum-throwing episode. From the way he was acting, it was clear that he didn’t want my attention focused solely on his brother. This clearly came as a surprise to me because me and my husband had already explained things to him before the delivery. He knew that he had a younger brother coming his way who would sleep and ‘eat’ a lot and cry too. But this change of attitude was a shocker and I barely knew how to deal with it. Each time the little one nursed, I just wanted him to get over it so I could see to my elder son.
Now, if you are going through a similar situation, here’s what you can do to make nursing times ‘bonding’ times with your toddler – things I should have done:
- - Allow your toddler to snuggle up with you by holding the new born in the football (clutch) position
- - Read to him
- - Watch cartoons together while the baby feeds
Having snacks at hand (your toddler’s favorites) that s/he can consume – both would actually be ‘feeding’ at the same time!
4 Difference # : The attention factor
Upon having our first baby, we were extremely concerned about his safety. The moment he started crying at night, both of us ran to the nursery for the sake of the baby – we didn’t want him to get scared. My mom scared me further into it by telling horror stories of how waking up to an alone room without his parents around can cause psychological issues to our baby, all of which gave us even more reasons to be extra careful with his night time (perfectly timed!) feedings – I couldn’t imagine causing such trouble for my sweet child!
With the second, things took a drastic (yes, drastic) turn, and the moment he cried, we found ourselves rushing to the nursery to make sure his crying doesn’t wake up his elder brother! Who has the strength to put up with night-time tantrums? This is because in case his sleep got disturbed, the elder one turned into a ball of tantrums where he ‘hated’ everything, and nothing in the world could make him happy. Moreover, his crying and tantrums in turn woke up the younger one, thereby turning a peaceful night into a night of pure horror. With time, however, we managed to get our infant into a routine that got him to sleep through the night (most nights to be honest). This included:
- - Giving the baby a bit of time to sleep on his own – instead of rocking or nursing at about six weeks old, we just put him down when he was sleepy so he didn’t associate sleeping with nursing or rocking
- - Establishing regular nap times to regulated his sleep pattern
- - Making nighttime as peaceful as possible
- - Playing lots of active games during the day with the evenings being more peaceful
- - Giving him consistent nighttime bedroom conditions so he wouldn’t get surprised even if he did wake up for a bit
- - Giving him a soother when he needed it
For my first child, I really didn’t bother with all of this stuff and as much as I hate to admit it, he used to nurse to sleep. But things took a 360 degree turn with a toddler around, and now, we were focused on making sure that the younger one slept through the night so the elder one doesn’t wake up.
3 Difference # : Development & milestones
Reaching a development milestone was something we actually celebrated for baby #1. For this, we continually encouraged the development of his motor skills. Every single accomplishment was highly praised and recorded in a baby book. Let’s not forget, just about every single milestone was actually recorded on camera so we could go ‘awwww’ at it later on too. For instance, the first time he said ‘mama’, not only was it caught on camera, I actually called up all my loved ones to tell them about it – and they were equally excited!
For my second baby, I found myself wanting to strap him to the floor. Why? Because I hadn’t yet mastered the art of moving in two opposing directions at a time! Seriously, by the time the younger one started running around, I was forced into deciding which child I was comfortable with in terms of getting hurt! With the second baby, milestones and developments barely received attention – we had already seen all that happening with the first, so just knowing that he has reached a said milestone – such as managing to support his head or enjoying tummy time – was more than enough; he was progressing well. Oh while we are at it, there were no more calls to family members and friends – why bother them with something they have already heard like a million times with our first?
2 Difference # : Benefits received by the two
My first child received every single bit of my attention. Considering I had no idea what all I was up to, I made sure that he got even the last drop of my attention. The times when he was awake, it was necessary for me to be around him. I knew all of his cues, kept a regular check on his diaper, make sure he was changed and cleaned up frequently, and basically just made sure every single one of his necessities were fulfilled. He was frequently showered with gestures of love, care and devotion as he was all that mattered.
For the second, I was a highly experienced mother, but he didn’t receive all my attention. Why? Well, because I was too busy explaining to his elder brother why he doesn’t receive all my attention anymore – such an intense case of sibling rivalry I was dealing with! Each time that my younger son needed attention, his elder brother would have something extremely important that needed my complete focus right away. My toddler wasn’t the center of my universe anymore and this pissed him off big time. And as his father was at work, things got excruciatingly tough for me.
My toddler was clearly having a hard tough sharing me with his younger brother. If this is the sort of situation you are in right now, here’s what you should do to get through such trying times:
- - Don’t snap back at your elder child if he throws a tantrum because you didn’t respond to him right away, or is overly zealous around the baby, or extremely loud. Instead, empathize, and respond by saying things like how much you want to be with him right now, but could he just hold on a second?
- - Don’t let him/her disconnect from you – if your toddler is feeling frustrated, hurt or disappointed, s/he is going to disconnect from you. Try not to let this happen, but if it does, reconnect with a big hug or a joke s/he really likes
- - Give the toddler a bit of special time – let your toddler take the lead for a while (such as when your younger one is asleep) and just have a bit of fun time with him/her, play a game. This can work wonders in maintaining a bit of a balance in your relationship with him/her.
1 Difference # : The closeness we shared
The moment I delivered my first baby, I wanted to hold him close to myself every single second of the day. I found it blissful when he slept on me each time and taking undisturbed naps with him was such a pleasure. To me, the bond that I shared with my son was the strongest connections that I had ever established with anyone in the world. Most of all, I knew this was the sort of romance that I have got hooked for life and nothing in the world could take it away. In my arms I held the baby that I had carried for a full nine months, and I was willing to take any step necessary to maintain this closeness with him.
With my second son, well, I continued to enjoy holding him close to myself, but I said goodbye to those nap times. Why? Because the moment he dozed off, his elder brother had something really very important that needed to be done (such as having to poop!). Honestly speaking, the minute I thought I could relax was the same minute that my elder son needed me to do or help him with something that was of utmost importance. I felt horrible that I couldn’t enjoy those nap times with my younger son as those moments were just so special to me. But with a toddler around, you really can’t have your hopes high in this department can you?
In order to maintain my closeness with both my kids, here’s what I did. To begin with, I held my newborn as close to me, and as long as possible. However, I held him in such a way that there was always space on my free lap for his elder brother so he didn’t feel left out. At times when my younger son was busy playing, such as tummy time, I made sure that his elder brother joined in on the fun too with his toys that I played with alongside him – I literally turned into a toddler to make sure he knows I am there for him. What you basically need to do is divide things and chores in such a manner that both children maintain adequate closeness with you without one having to feel ignored. Like carrying your baby with you in a carrier while you do dishes.
No matter how different both these situations were, I continued to love my children and that’s something nothing and no one in the world could have taken away from me!