Six Things I Will Do Differently with My Second Child

By Polly Conner
April 10, 2013

Six things I will do differently with my second child

As I write this post, I am 26 days away from my due date. By the time I actually share this post, it will be even closer. As baby boy gets closer and closer to joining our family, I have been reflecting on what it was like to have a newborn. Looking back, there was so much I wish I could have told myself. However, most of the the lessons I learned through being a first-time mom are those that can only be taught by experience. I had great advice coming from every direction but didn’t realize how wise some of it was until I had learned it for myself.

In an effort to prepare myself for a newborn, I have been evaluating what I’d like to do different this second time around. I’m a little hesitant to post about this because I am 100% positive there will be things I mention that people won’t agree with. I hope that readers have the maturity to understand that I am speaking out of MY personal experience and am aware that I am not sharing as an expert in these areas. I just know what worked and didn’t work for us and am taking a risk by sharing that.

That being said, here is what I plan to do a little differently with our second child:

1) Buy Less Clothes

Lets start off with an easy one, shall we? With my first baby, I was so eager to prepare and excited about the idea of a baby that I bought a lot of clothes (mostly at garage sales). Even though they were cheap, there was no reason to have the amount of clothing that I did for one child. We would have been just fine on HALF of the clothing that we had. In that first year, babies grow so fast. There really isn’t a need to have a ton of clothing for each size. This baby boy is probably going to have half the amount of clothing that my daughter did. Sorry dude. You’re going to be dressed in second-hand for a while.

2) Embrace Sleep Deprivation

From day one, we found out that our little lady just isn’t big on sleeping. We spent many nights up and down trying to figure out how to get this child to go back to sleep in the middle of the night. I remember some nights having an internal panic attack about how little sleep I was getting. I would have thoughts like, “How am I going to get through tomorrow?” or “I can’t survive on this little sleep!” or “I can’t do this any more!!” It didn’t help that she would only take 45 minute naps until she was about 6 months old. However, after a few months I realized that sleep deprivation was not going to kill me. Seriously. I had to say that to myself and embrace that I was not going to die on the nights that I got very little sleep. Yes, the next day would be unpleasant but once I learned to simply embrace the tiredness and not panic about it, I was able to relax and go with the flow a bit more.

Since having a newborn, I have found myself not so worried about the amount of hours of sleep I get. In fact, through my current pregnancy, I have found myself up in the middle of the night, wide awake. This used to freak me out but it just doesn’t any more. Being tired is not the worst thing that can happen. Once I embraced that and learned to be ok with tiredness, motherhood got a lot easier.

3) Not Get so Stressed About Sleep Issues

Speaking of sleep, I don’t plan to worry too much about sleep training (sleeping through the night or falling asleep without help) until this baby is 3-4 months old. This was such an area of stress for me with our first child. I thought she should learn how to go to sleep on her own at two weeks old (bless my heart). We tried all sorts of cry-it-out methods and simply floundered in this area. Honestly, I still feel guilty sometimes about those first few months. I was so stressed out about naps and hours of sleep she was getting and tried even harder to control that area. Looking back, it seems so clear to me and almost silly that I got so worked up over short naps and the process of her falling asleep.

I don’t plan to swing 100% the opposite way and make her dependent on ME to fall asleep or to just let the sleep issue be a free-for-all but I for sure plan to be way more laid back about it. I don’t plan on using the Babywise method. It simply didn’t work and made me feel like I was always doing something wrong. I wish I would have read this post, When Babywise Fails, in the midst of those first few months. I know it works wonderfully for certain moms and babies and I don’t resent that or think it’s wrong. It just didn’t work for my baby and I never gave myself the freedom to accept that.

4) Talk to Other Moms and Use Google Less

I was struggling so much in the beginning that I reached out to almost every mom I knew. While I am so grateful for their time and wisdom to council me, I grew almost paralyzed with the amount of advice I received. Everyone does things differently and I was so confused that we were trying different methods (mainly relating to sleep) every few days. In my confusion, I would turn to the internet and find even MORE confusing advice. I’d get so stressed about the stories I read and problems other moms ran into. Again, the amount of information was just paralyzing to me. I didn’t know what to believe or what to do.

While I don’t anticipate having as many unknowns with the second child, I plan to seek out only a few trusted moms who are one step ahead of me kid rearing. I think it is SO important to ask for help and advice in the beginning. There is so much that can be learned from others so I for sure plan on hunting down my trusted mom friends. I just plan to pull the reigns a bit on how much I do it.

5) Line Up Some Good Books

I remember being amazed at the amount of down time there was in the beginning- primarily spent nursing. I was eager to get moving again so it was hard for me to sit still for so long so many times a day! I ended up watching stupid, mindless TV shows and just staring into space a lot. This time I want to be productive with that down time. It will probably look differently since I will have a toddler to entertain but I’m sure there will be plenty of time to read. I’ve already gotten two books on my Kindle and am gathering ideas for other good books to read. In fact, I just joined Goodreads which is a site/iphone app in which people share their book recommendations and keep track of books they want to read in the future. I love book recommendations so I’m excited about joining this!

6) Gear Up for the Fourth Trimester

The fourth trimester?

Yep. It’s real.

Baby Blues?

Yep. They are real too.

You think you are done with the craziness of pregnancy once that baby enters into the world, right? Nope. Your body is still out of whack, your hormones are going crazy, and you have to quickly adjust to a new normal that isn’t so pleasant for a while. I’m aware that everyone has a different experience in those first few post-partum weeks. Mine was not something I want to relive. To give you a taste of it, here is a little excerpt from a blog I wrote two weeks post-baby:

…after my sister left, things went a bit downhill. Austin took Adelyn over to the grandparents house and I opted to come home to take a nap and have some alone time for the first time in almost two weeks. Well the alone time spiraled into a whirlwind of hormones, pity, sadness, and guilt for feeling all these things. I’m well aware that my body is chemically unbalanced right now but that doesn’t make the emotions any less real. I’ve never felt like that before. I’ve never been one to struggle with depression and I think I am getting a small taste of what someone who is depressed goes though. I’m thankful it’s a small taste and that this season will likely pass soon but it is still so hard.

People, I struggled. It was so hard. My husband even told me (a few months after all of it) that he had never seen me like I was. I’ll be honest, I fear the baby blues. However, this time around I am making a plan of action to gear up for waves of gloom if they choose to make a visit after this baby. Here are a few action steps I plan to take:

  • First of all, I accept that I am vulnerable. I think since I had never struggled with depression, I wasn’t worried about it. Pride comes before the fall, huh? I will be able to recognize the blues for what they are and not be in denial.
  • I can learn from the patterns I saw: my hardest time of the day was always in the late afternoon. I plan to prepare for this by scheduling visits during that time or even an outing- even if it’s only a walk. The worse thing for me is to just stay in the house when the storm moves in.
  • I also plan to be more spiritually prepared. I have a list of verses that I plan to have ready for battle. Again, here is a small excerpt from a post from two years ago:

When I recognized my thoughts and emotions were spiraling downward I knew I needed to get into the Word. I needed some perspective. Some truth. Some hope. I haven’t felt that intense need for the Word of God in a long time. I was thankful to be brought to such a humble place to so desperately need scripture to speak to my heart and mind. My time in the Word in addition to some much needed encouragement from Austin and close friends got me through this afternoon. Then as quickly as the blues came on, they left. I feel like myself again

 I know that sometimes the body reacts entirely differently from one pregnancy to another so hopefully I won’t even have to deal with the Baby Blues this time around. However, if I do I pray that I will be faithful to God and my family and really trust and lean into the promises of God during those hard days.

Gosh, there are still a lot more things I could go on and on about doing differently this time around. I guess that’s part of the process of being a mom. We are continually learning how to love and serve God by loving and serving our kids. We are always in the process of refinement and part of that is looking back and learning from the mistakes. I’m thankful for a graceful God who is a PERFECT father to my children. My mistakes are only evidence of my need for him and my children’s need for him.

 Want to know how these six claims worked out after having my second kiddo? Check out my follow up to this post

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9 replies
  1. Emma says:

    This is so well written & can relate to it so much.

    My son is now nearly four months old but the first 3 months were truly hard.
    My little boy is my second child (i have a 3 year old girl ) and he also just wouldn’t let me put him down and was a terrible sleeper and has acid reflux.
    But i personally was in a really bad place . By the grace of God, i had a good husband, family & freinds to help me through that 4th trimester.

    My little guy now sleeps well at night and although is still a catnapper by day, everything so much more managable. But the big difference is me – i truly belived that when i prayed the prayer of “god if you cant change the circumstances, then please change me” he really was merciful to me in that way.

    Nothing is perfect but im learning to see joy again and really be in love with my little boy. And i truly thank God for that.

    Thank you so much Polly for sharing.
    Em 🙂

    • Polly says:

      So great to hear. Thanks for sharing your heart! There are so many moms out there who need to know they aren’t alone. Especially when things are tough.

  2. Sally says:

    Wow! Number 2, about embracing sleep deprivation, is something I’ve really tried hard to explain to people about my mothering journey, and never been able to do – AWESOME work explaining that 🙂 Thank you for posting this, I know it is hard to open up about some of these topics, but the whole article was encouraging to me, especially your plan of attack for battling depression.

  3. Kathy says:

    Good advice, Polly. I, too, was totally worried about sleep with my first baby. With the next three, I embraced the 2 am feedings as a special snuggle time with my infant without other little people seeking my attention. Yes, I was drowsy but it wasn’t that bad.

  4. polly says:

    Liz- I remember a piece of advice you gave me that was really helpful. You pretty much told me to chill out and realize there are people out there doing a lot worse job than I was… haha.

  5. Liz Horn says:

    Love it Polly! We also struggled with “sleep issues” with Char and not fitting into the perfect baby wise mold. I learned to take any and all advice with a grain of sand. There just can’t be one right way to teach all kids to sleep, and likewise I’ve had to learn the same about discipline. Not sure about the having time to read part though 😉