Here’s what you should keep in mind ahead of having your second child

From the mother you were to the mother you will be: a few words from the heart before a second birth.

 Baby foot (Illustrative) (photo credit: Negative Space)
Baby foot (Illustrative)
(photo credit: Negative Space)

It won’t look the same and you may even acknowledge that you feel a bit guilty, but it's time to recognize that the second time you give birth will be different. 

There are a lot of differences between a first and second baby. Already during pregnancy you feel different; you have less time to think about how the fetus is developing each week and you’re too tired to take care of your young child. 

The first few months after the second birth, you'll find it's really tough to be a mom of two. 

Yes, you chose to be a mother for the second time. Yes, you have been through all the things for the first time and it may be that "technically" all of this is easy for you, but the emotional coping is different. Here are some things you should say to yourself in difficult moments.

It's okay not to get equally excited at first

And even more - it's okay not to wait for the baby to be born, and to secretly hope in your heart that it will stay longer inside you. So, the first time around, you were eager to meet the little one and tell anyone who asked your due date, yet the second time you may be happy to postpone the end and may not know exactly how much time you have left. Why? Because dealing with two is complex, mentally and physically, which doesn’t mean you like or want the new baby less.

You really don’t have to buy everything new 

If you advocate an ecological approach it's even important that you don’t. For the first baby, you bought lots of things and designed a nursery, while the second baby gets a lot of secondhand stuff. You realize that the new baby will probably enjoy playing with a pack of wipes, so you won’t run out and buy lots of new developmental toys. If your first was a girl and the second is a boy, the second baby can wear clothes that are less "boy" in their essence, and vice versa. A blanket with pink rabbits can also warm up a boy.

You’ll make an effort to divide your attention between the two

This won’t be easy. The new baby is totally dependent and will require a lot from you, and the other child will need specific things from you too and you’ll find yourself torn between the two in certain situations. 

Sometimes you’ll feel guilty about this or that. Accept these feelings of guilt and don’t ignore them, but don’t let them dominate you. Remember that even if it seems to you that you’re less for the new baby in relation to the same period with the first baby, that is all the baby knows and it’s enough.

Your expanding family will enjoy both magical and complex moments

There will be moments when you look at your family and rejoice, and there will be moments when you won’t understand how you did this to your eldest child (and perhaps to yourself and your relationship). The transition between these moments can be very fast even at intervals of a few hours on the same day. Let this rollercoaster continue to ride, and dedicate yourself to riding it. Sometime later things will balance out more and the ride will become more relaxed.

It is possible that the new baby will recognize things that the first didn’t know.

The first baby didn’t hear you raise your voice or speak in an educating tone. Now there’s a toddler in the house, an older sibling who you need to reprimand, give instructions to and will have disagreements with. This isn’t a problem for the baby to hear as long as you try to maintain a pleasant environment. Even if a baby joins a world where anger is sometimes heard as well, unlike an older sibling, they have nothing to compare it to. The memory and comparison, in the end, are yours.

In conclusion, take a deep breath, lovingly accept yourself and your whole range of emotions and be sure that you’ll be the best mother for your two children. If there are things you feel you need to fix, do so, but don’t sink into feelings of guilt and sorrow that you aren’t who you were when the first child was born. You’ve developed and grown, and so has your parenting and thanks to your first experience, you’re now moving towards another one.

This article was written in cooperation with the JAMA parenting app.