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Published September 20, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Dad learns to stress less with baby No. 2

Since the birth of our son, Owen, in early August, my husband has been sharing a bit of parental wisdom with his buddies, even those who don’t have children.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

Since the birth of our son, Owen, in early August, my husband has been sharing a bit of parental wisdom with his buddies, even those who don’t have children.

“If you’re going to have one kid, you may as well have two, because the second one is a breeze,” he says.

Plus, you get to reuse all that baby gear, meaning a better return on your investment.

It’s true for us that this second turn at parenthood has been much easier than the first. We always thought Eve, now age 3, was a laid-back newborn. We were convinced we’d have a colicky baby the second time around; no way would we luck out twice. But almost 2-month-old Owen has made Eve seem like a diva baby. All he does is eat, sleep and poop (“and cough and hiccup,” his big sister adds).

During this pregnancy, I was fascinated by how different that second experience was from my first gestation. But somehow it didn’t occur to me how different the second child would be.

Of course, it’s impossible to know whether the difference is really him or us.

At Owen’s 2-week checkup, I told his pediatrician how he didn’t need to be held a lot, as Eve had. She pointed out that Eve probably didn’t need to be held as much as we thought. We were first-time parents who didn’t know any better.

Now we know a little crying isn’t going to hurt anyone. I wait longer to change his diaper because I know he’s just going to poop again in another minute. I nurse when I can tell he’s hungry instead of counting down the minutes to make sure he’s fed exactly every two hours.

My friend Jenny, a mom of two, forwarded me an email a few months ago that joked about some of the other differences when you have more than one kid.

For instance, with the firstborn, all the baby’s clothes are neatly folded and sorted by color. With the second, you’re lucky if they’re clean. Instead of sterilizing the pacifier that fell on the floor, you wipe it on your shirt.

Craig and I especially noted these truths as we watched our friends Keith and Tammy become parents for the first time 10 days after Owen was born. We see in them ourselves three years removed – exhausted and fretful over the baby’s weight and sleep schedules.

I wonder if I were somehow able to go back and tell New Mom Sherri to relax if it would make a difference. But I don’t think it would work, even if time travel were possible, just like nothing I can say to Tammy now would make her any less fretful or exhausted. You have to go through it.

The transition into parenthood for the first time is such a life-altering experience that words can’t prepare you for it. It changes your daily routines, your priorities, your lifestyle. Once you’ve made that leap, adding a second kid isn’t such a big thing.

After all, you’re already equipped. And I don’t just mean with the crib and high chair.

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