As first-time parents, we are often riddled with anxiety about getting everything right. The second time around you are much more at ease. Here are 10 ways your parenting style changes after your first baby, once you have your second (or third child.)
1. Pregnancy photos
For the first baby, you diligently took pictures of yourself during each stage of pregnancy making sure to stand at the same spot and even wear the same outfit so that people could see that your bump was indeed growing. You shared these instantly on social media. Thereafter you logged in every hour on the hour to see the number of likes and gushing ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Aawwws’.
For baby number two, you totally forgot to take pictures to mark the pregnancy milestones. Even when you did remember, you were looking frumpy and had forgotten to wear your makeup and posh maternity clothes. This time you weren’t as enthusiastic about photos and had no desire to share these on social media. Not that you do not feel excited about the incumbent member of the family – it is just that you have been there, done that with the whole Facebook thing.
2. Baby clothes
For baby number one, you started buying clothes as soon as you got the positive pregnancy test. All clothes were carefully selected, color coordinated and disinfected. You probably look at all the baby sites for pregnant women. Clothes were stripped from the first baby and washed as soon as something spilt on them.
Baby number two’s clothes mostly consist of gently used hand me downs. Color is of absolute no concern as long as they are not torn and they do not have stains. Baby boys can wear metrosexual pink flowery tops, can’t they?
With your first baby, were shopping for pregnancy slimming pants and matching colorful maternity tops right from the first trimester. You made sure that no hair was out of place and with your lipstick and pregnancy glow, you were the envy of all your female colleagues.
The second time round, you grab anything that will fit your bulging tummy. In some pseudo-ethnic wardrobe renaissance, you now frequently sport Matronly African Kaftans. Lately, your Mum’s flowing Kitenges and Boubous you would not previously have been caught dead in are now your staples. However, nothing beats Hubby’s manly XL T-shirts and stretchy jogging pants. These are your absolute favorites. Most of the time you will have your hair in clunky braids, accessorized with a scarf or hair band to cover the fact that they needed to get re-done like two months ago.
4. Baby’s room
For baby number one, you agonized over nursery preparation. Like some nesting Gestapo you ordered the entire design team to do it and re-do it until they got it right. You spent ages at different carpentry shops looking for someone that could make that baby cot whose photos you saw on the internet. You pored laboriously over color swatches and cartoon themes and probably stitched the curtains yourself.
Baby number two did not have a room. Just a new mosquito net to go over his gently used cot passed on from baby number one, stationed in the corner of your room.
5. Sex of the baby
For the first baby, you were excited at the prospect of being a mum; the sex of the baby did not matter. You wanted it to be a surprise and shopped for baby clothes in neutral color. All you prayed for was a healthy pregnancy and baby.
The second time round, you knew the sex of the baby you wanted. You had a girl the first time round and now you wanted a boy. In fact, before you started trying to get pregnant, you went on your Facebook Mums’ group asking for tips on how to conceive a boy. You tried each concoction and acrobatic position and went and every strange food item they recommended.
Long before baby number one came home, everything around the house was scrubbed clean and then disinfected. Your watchful Nanny promptly circulated a bowl of hot water and soap for all the guests long before any refreshments were served – just in case some of them did not get the hint when you invited them to wash hands in the bathroom before touching baby. In your room and your purse, you kept a large bottle of hand sanitizer at hand for visitors wanting to hold him. Moreover, God forbid they came near him with a cough or a sniffle! No one seemed clean enough for the baby, not even your significant other.
The second time round you are glad to have someone to take baby number two off your hands for a few minutes so that you catch some sleep, get a long overdue shower or use the toilet without your firstborn banging and wailing for your attention. You also do not flinch when someone kisses him on the cheeks. It is fine as long as they do not have a cold.
With the first baby, you spend a lot of time worrying and even questioning your abilities as a mother. You wonder whether you are holding the baby right, whether you will ever understand his different cries, whether your milk is nutritious enough for him, or if you got the right brand of diapers.
The second time round, you know that you can raise your child. You trust your judgment and the choices of products that you make for your little one. In fact, you spend more time watching that the older child is not pinching or poking the baby than you do fussing over the newborn.
8. Child care
For the first baby, you interviewed, nay grilled the Nanny or Daycare provider with the thoroughness of a government CID agent. You were reluctant to hire that one who could not speak English because you were worried that your baby would grow up with a mother tongue influence on their English. Each time you left the house, you called every 30 minutes to ask if the baby was okay and if he had burped.
With baby number two, you enlisted the help of siblings, nieces and even neighbors in childcare. When you leave the house, all you do is make sure that they have a number they can reach you on in case there is a problem.
The first time round, when baby takes an unusually long nap, you are in to check on him every five minutes to see if he is breathing. In fact, if it is too long, you might start googling or logging onto MumsVillage community chats for new mothers to find out if this is normal. If the group chat response takes longer than 15 seconds, you find yourself dialing the pediatrician’s number – yes, that one which you have memorized off head.
For the veteran mum, a long nap is a miracle! When you put the baby to sleep you are actually relieved at this chance to be able to nip out to the neighborhood shop or even get your long-neglected feet done! You can also catch those few episodes of ‘Scandal’ before he gets up and starts yelling for his slave, I mean, his mother.
When baby is older, he wakes up in the middle of the night having wet his bed. You change him and replace all the bedding with clean, soft, dry ones and pat the baby back to sleep. You even take out the mattress to air and replace it with your back-up just-in-case mattress and custom mattress cover.
The second time round, when your toddlers wets his bed, you simply slip him into another trouser and then place a dry towel over the wet patch. You switch off the lights and then tell him to go back to sleep. It is the middle of the night and everyone needs the sleep. You figure nobody ever died from sleeping in a tiny ammonia stain for a couple of hours. You will change it in the morning. If you remember.