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5 Ways Life Has Changed Since Having My Second Kid

Recently, I went from being a mother of one to a mother of two. The first few weeks of having two children had its challenges. Everyone was short on sleep and I was constantly occupied by the newest member of the family—my infant son. But Dad stepped it up, giving big sister a ton of love and attention and I was actually quite satisfied to be clutched by this new baby round the clock. I was happy to spend my days (and nights) getting to know the tiny person who’d already occupied my body for the better part of a year.

While there was undoubtedly more on my to-do list, overall, things didn’t seem that much harder. I even told a friend who inquired about how my life was different that it really wasn’t. While, yes, there was new baby who cried in the evenings, we were still doing the same things we’d always been doing.

Now five months into having two kids, I take it all back. I’m no longer high off birth hormones and newborn fumes. The acid trip has worn off and real life with two kids—one preschooler and one infant—has set in. Though I’m overjoyed to be reveling in what I feel is my “complete family,” I can now say with complete confidence that having two kids is no freaking joke. I’ll be the first one to fully acknowledge that having one child can be tremendously challenging, as well, but here’s how my life has changed since I gained one more.

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On imaginary bunnies and other lies we tell

When you’re a parent, holidays mean a lot more than eggnog and bloody marys all day. Don’t get me wrong, they can mean that, too. But they also mean one thing for sure- that you will most definitely lie your ass off to your kids for the sake of holiday spirit. Or tradition. Or some other reason. I’m really not quite clear on it yet.

This past weekend was Easter and though I didn’t go all out giving gifts or hiding eggs everywhere or making bunny crafts (don’t worry the obscene number of grandparents and great-grandparents my daughter has tend to take care of all that anyway) I did get her a good old chocolate Easter bunny who appeared in her basket Sunday morning. (Okay, so it was some time around 10 am when she came up from watching cartoons and I remembered it was Easter and popped it on the kitchen table with a handful of plastic grass. Give me a break, I’m more and more pregnant all the time).

So she walked in and I casually said, “oh looks like the Easter bunny left you a little something.” She was ecstatic and joyous and carried the chocolate bunny around like she had just won first prize in a dawdling contest (or something else my daughter would equally rock at). But it wasn’t long before her questions started rolling in. She wanted to know how the Easter bunny got into our house, where he got the green plastic grass and also how he made it. She asked why he brought it to her in the first place and who else was he going around giving chocolate bunnies to and she also seemed to find it very unfair that he had left nothing for her father and I. Though she got over feeling sorry for us quickly when she realized we had already eaten half the reeses peanut butter cups and peanut m&m’s her grandfather gave her. Okay, fine. I ate them.

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I answered her questions to the best of my ability, trying to keep it a bit vague and also not blurt out “it’s all a lie! We’re lying to you, there’s no bunny! Get with the program!” But the questions kept coming. She didn’t want to let me off the hook. She was too intrigued by this mysterious bunny going into people’s homes and leaving chocolate because let’s face it- that’s pretty freaking weird and also mildly terrifying, no?

The same was true at Christmas this past year, the first year she even really bothered paying much attention to the whole Santa thing. Like, what the hell was this guy’s deal and how do reindeer fly and are you really, really sure about all this? Like “for real? Not really, though, right?” or “Let me get this straight…” was how she liked to put it.

If I’m being honest (ha) the whole thing is totally weird to me and I don’t know why I keep up with these lies. My daughter has enough imagination to fuel the world without me making up freaky bunnies and bearded men. I kind of can’t wait until the day (which at this rate, I’m guessing is rapidly approaching) when I can say, “yeah… I’m the Easter bunny. And Santa. And your goldfish did not turn into a mermaid when we flushed him down the toilet. He’s dead as a doornail but his life was complete and utter crap swimming around in that mucky water that I never bothered to clean so, it’s all good. But, please don’t hate me.”

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5 Girly toys I don’t hate

Once in a while, someone gives my kid a gift that makes me cringe. I’m instantly wondering how long we’re going to have to keep it and what covert operation I’m going to have to pull off to sneak it out of the house. My biggest pet peeves are things that are super gender-specific, electronics and things that come with a million-trillion pieces (except on the extremely rare occasions when the awesomeness of the toy outweighs one of those traits).

While we don’t have a strict no-technology rule in our house (we watch TV and movies, although at a minimum), we prefer to keep electronics out of everyday play items for our daughter so that she can spend her time being creative with her toys. The truth is that she much prefers it this way. A toy that can do many things is much more fun than a toy that only does one thing (i.e., go beep-beep-boop and drive Mama crazy). So I really have come to appreciate it when people give her gifts that don’t pigeonhole her and that also let her explore her creativity. I also love it when I don’t have to stand over her, supervising her every move.

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We recently celebrated Christmas and my daughter’s birthday (two weeks later — yes, shoot me). It was major toy overload, as expected, but we made it out alive and luckily picked up some pretty different and creative stuff.

Here are some of my daughter’s favorite new (mom-approved) toys!

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Hopes and fears

I’m seriously sleep-deprived today. I’m twenty-two weeks pregnant and starting to get round. My husband was in and out of sleep all night with a fever and when he was actually sleeping, he was snoring or grunting uncomfortably. My four year old was having a restless night and came in nearly every hour. I know I slept once, for a few minutes, maybe, only because I woke up mumbling something about a train and my daughter said “what train?” I didn’t know. Probably my getaway train.

My body is wrecked. My head hurts. Everyone is home today and I just want to run away to the place where sleep is. But days like this are inevitable. It’s par for the course and I know that. I’ve almost come to terms with it, almost. Still, I can’t help being mildly bitter at my husband, even though I know it’s unfair. It’s not his fault he’s sick and helpless. It’s not his fault he kept me up all night. It’s not his fault he’s in bed and I’m down here listening to the pulse in my brain and wondering how it’s only 10 am and I’m already checked out.

But I’m still mad. I’m mad that I was sick as a dog for three months and still had to go on with my days with no one to help me while he was at work and I was throwing up or so fatigued I thought I would die. Some days my daughter got so angry at me for being sick she’d hit me or throw herself on the ground and all I could do what cry and throw up again. I’m mad that I’m pregnant and tired and have a sick husband and a cranky child who’s likely on the verge of being sick, too and home for the rest of the week. I’m just mad.

Days like this make me terrified for my second child to come. This exhaustion is so familiar, not that I’ve ever been too far from it. My daughter still wakes several times most nights, either to potty or to snuggle or sometimes just to cry for no reason. But those early breastfeeding days are not far off now. And what will I do with two children who are crying in the night and swinging open doors? Hope tells me I’ll roll with it. Fear tells me I’ll lose my shit.

It’s not just the exhaustion I’m afraid of. It’s the shifting of everything that’s bound to happen once again and this time I’m not the only one has to adjust. I decided to have a second baby because I wanted a family of four. I didn’t think our family was quite done and I wanted one more child. But more than any of it, I wanted my daughter to have a sibling. Now, I’m terrified of what she’ll truly feel once it all comes. Will she feel love instantly or will she be completely beside herself with jealousy? Will she be angry and hate me for nursing the baby all the time and expecting more independence from the child who was just my baby seconds ago? Will she cry when I can’t get down and play and will I be so overwhelmed with nursing and sleepless nights and an angry child that I just can’t take it?

Am I completely alone in these fears or are they typical of adding babies to your brood? I don’t know. Somebody please tell me. Everyone says it’ll be fine. It’ll be great, she’ll adjust, don’t worry. And then parents tell me that it’s a fucking mountain and I believe them. They tell me I have no idea, that it’s so much harder than one child in every way and I believe them.

Most days I’m happy to accept it all. Roll with the punches. Whatever will be will be, ya know. But not today. Today I’m hoping for the best and fearing the worst. I’m hoping for one of those magic sleeping babies that I never understood. I’m hoping for flawless breastfeeding, easy latching, superior production, all that. I’m hoping for a joyous daughter and an easy going son who laughs a lot. I’m hoping for new opportunities for my husband, ones that mean he’s home more and I get to work sometimes. And all the while I know I’m hoping for too much and fearing too much at the same time.

But today the mountain seems too big and I’m too small. Too small and too tired and too pregnant.

And there’s no one else. It’s just me.