One of the biggest questions we get asked by readers with kids is, “What is it like going from one child to two?” For example, Amal, who is expecting her second daughter, recently said the idea of handling both a toddler and a newborn overwhelms her. I felt the same way (big time), and I was surprised what it was like transitioning from one to two kids…
To be honest, for the first few months, Alex and I were like WHAT HAVE WE DONE. It was a literal shit show. Anton was adorable, but we were completely exhausted, breastfeeding hurt, and in a small apartment, it felt like there was baby paraphernalia everywhere and a child was always awake and thirsty. (As Jenny Rosenstrach once wrote, “Sometimes it feels like all I accomplish in a single day is quenching my children’s thirst.”)
We were losing our minds a little bit, but, as with all things parenting, it passed. The newborn days are no joke, I’m sure, no matter how many kids you have, right? It got easier.
The funny thing is, once the newborn craziness was over, having two kids got doable. I couldn’t believe it. Here are six things we experienced:
* You fit the child into your life. As parents of one child, we were already waking up early and going to the playground on Saturday afternoons, so it wasn’t that different taking a second kid along.
* We were more chill parents overall. When Toby was a baby, we took him to the emergency room multiple times for essentially NO REASON (“Does his breathing seem fast?!” “Is this red mark a rash?!!”) but with Anton, we had learned to take things in stride. (Remember this funny comparison of first and second children?)
* Nothing is sweeter than seeing your children play. Or hold hands. Or share a bath, omg.
* Before Anton was born, I worried I might lose my special bond with Toby. But I continued putting Toby to bed every night by myself, so we could have alone time. And, after about eight or nine months, I started taking Toby on mother/son dates.
* The boys themselves were so different. Even though that seems obvious, it was a real surprise to me. When we had a second boy, I thought, ‘Oh, I got this’ — I figured I knew what would make him laugh, which toys he’d like, which discipline would work, the whole shebang. But Anton and Toby were such opposites, and it was fascinating to experience a very different child.
* Your heart grows to love your children exponentially. At first, I felt guilty that I didn’t bond enough with Anton right away. I loved my sweet newborn — but did I love him with all my heart and soul, like I loved Toby? Not yet. I had known Toby for three beautiful years and had played with him and laughed with him and cuddled him every day, and I knew everything about him. With Anton, he was brand new. It was like asking if you’re in madly love with someone on the first date. But as he grew, we fell for each other, and now both children are the great joys of my life.
Looking back, funnily enough, I found the transition harder going from no kids to one kid, versus one to two kids. When Toby was born, we had to make more life changes (no more hungover brunches!), learn more (breastfeeding, I’m looking at you), and organize more things (cribs, childcare), and when Anton arrived, we just fit him into the mix.
How many children do you hope to have? (Or none?) Are you expecting or trying for a child right now? I’m so curious to hear from other parents with multiple kids, too: What was your experience going from one to two? What things did you find hard or joyful? Please share below…
(Photos by Amelia Fullarton.)