Recently, there have been two new babies born in my family; one is the couple’s first child, and the other is a second child. Between watching loved ones become parents for the first time and reliving all the memories that come flooding back…and seeing another loved one go at it again with a toddler in tow, I’ve been thinking a lot about how things went with my first baby, and dreaming about someday with a second one.
I’ve realized a number of things I’d like to do differently from my first baby. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned from baby number 1 and how I think I’ll apply it to baby number 2.
What I’d Do Differently
#1: Be extra
Before I had my daughter, I scoured the Internet. I waded through endless blogs and vlogs about what you need when you have a baby. So many of them would say things like, “Honestly, you’re not going to use those cute baby outfits; they’re just going to live in zip-up sleepers for the first few weeks anyway, so don’t waste your money on useless things.” This attitude was so prevalent across the board that I developed kind of a snobby approach to it, in my opinion. I don’t remember buying a single real outfit for my daughter, only sleepers and onesies. Adorable sleepers and onesies, don’t get me wrong, but still—jammies. I didn’t buy a single pair of newborn shoes. And now, as an aunt…I want to buy all the adorable outfits and shoes. So you know what? Who cares if they’re a little extra? Who cares if baby shoes are completely useless? They’re adorable and I’m doing it and I don’t care who judges me.
#2: Dedicate one nighttime feed to my husband
I’m all for breastfeeding if you can do it. Things didn’t go so well with my first. For more on that, check out My Postpartum Depression Story. I firmly believe that with a few modifications, I could have breastfed long-term. But because of all the information out there that makes moms feel like they have to do everything 100%, no exceptions, I burned out quickly, and all the pressure just added fuel to the PPD fire. Next time around, one way I’ll make breastfeeding a more achievable goal is by dedicating one nighttime feed to my husband, so I can get one longer stretch of sleep each night.
#3: Think of formula as a good backup, not something to shun
If my pediatrician suggests supplementing with formula, I will probably do it and not look back. I had such a shameful view of formula when my daughter was born that watching her eat it all the time in the NICU was difficult, and having to switch to it a few weeks later was unbearable. But my baby wasn’t gaining as she should, I was strung out and starting to be overcome by postpartum depression, and everything improved when we switched. I wish I had just supplemented when our pediatrician first suggested it, because maybe it would’ve been enough of a life raft to get us through the most difficult days without needing to give up breastfeeding entirely for the sake of my health. If my second child could benefit from supplementing, I won’t hesitate to try it because sometimes, it can be the boost you need to keep breastfeeding and actually succeed long-term.
Related reading: My NICU Story
#4: Anticipate my own healthcare needs
PPD hit me hard, and I thought I knew what to watch out for. This time around, knowing myself better, I’ll have a better idea what to be on the lookout for. My family will prepared. I’ll have discussions with my OB/GYN near the end of my pregnancy regarding how we’ll handle it; we’ll have a game plan ready. I’ll start getting treatment straight away if I feel my mental health slipping. It’s not a guarantee I’ll develop it again, but there is a good chance, so I’ll be prepared this time. If I can nip PPD in the bud as soon as it starts rearing its ugly head, maybe the whole fourth trimester will see some relief.
#5: Try putting the baby in the crib sleepy, but awake
When Lydia was in the NICU, we’d change and feed her, hang out, maybe do skin-to-skin, swaddle her, put her in the bassinet and leave to let her sleep. It never once occurred to me to rock her to sleep, though she often did nod off in our arms. I’m not sure when we started rocking her to sleep, but it was a habit we had to dissolve when we needed her to go down on her own around 4 months old. Looking back, I realized the way she got to sleep in the NICU wasn’t such a bad idea, and I’d like to try putting my next baby down sleepy but awake from the get-go. Obviously not all the time—because baby cuddles—but a good percentage of the time.
That’s where my thoughts are now, with a two and a half year old! Maybe someday when I have baby number 2, I’ll write a follow-up post on how these changes went.
What would you do differently with your second child? Comment below!