After the birth of baby number two – The biggest surprise

childno2gainsandlossesI was nervous having my second baby. I remembered all too well the challenges of a newborn and couldn’t work out how I would do it again, but this time with a toddler in the mix.

Certain things seemed incomprehensible, like how manage the broken nights without naps during the day or even how to deal with putting a trolley back at the supermarket with a baby and a wandering toddler. I have no idea why the later of these two concerned me so much at the time because it was never really a problem, but that was just one of a few things that I could not imagine how I would manage with child number two.

The biggest surprise to me, however, was nothing to do with the practical complications but actually something that never even crossed my mind. I knew that I was gaining a baby (a bit obvious) and that would add some complications to my life. I knew that I would fall in love with this new little person and that my life would be immeasurably enriched by him. But what completely came out of the blue for me was an unexpected feeling that I had lost something.

I was mystified. Hadn’t I just got what I wanted?

Once I was home from the hospital I got on with all the things I had to do, realising that I was actually a lot more confident and capable the second time round. I had forgotten how tough the nights really were but knew that I would get through them. Things felt like they were going to plan, as much as can be expected in those first few days, but I found a strange sense of loss creeping up on me. I was mystified. Hadn’t I just got what I wanted?

Surely I had gained a baby, so loss, where had that come from? But the feeling kept resurfacing at odd quiet times. It genuinely felt like I had lost something and I knew that something was my eldest son. It made no sense to me in that moment.

My eldest boy was right there, well actually he was playing downstairs whilst I was putting the newest edition of the family to bed whilst pondering this unexplained state of affairs.

Don’t get me wrong it was not the only feeling I had, it was in the mix with all the other emotions that come with having a new baby. But it still persisted, a quiet whisper that came into my dreams and my waking thoughts. Then one day I realised that I had actually lost something. I had lost that unique one-to-one relationship that I had with my eldest son. Up until then it had just been me and him much of the time (with Daddy at weekends). We were a team, a pair, exploring the world together and now that was gone. There was another person there, needing my time and attention.

We had gained a son/brother but lost the undivided time and attention that we could lavish on each other.

A quiet whisper that came into my dreams and my waking thoughts

Once I knew what the feeling was, it slowly dissipated. I had to accept that the status quo had changed and that it would take time to adjust. I guess I was caught unaware because all I had realised with a new baby on the way was that I was gaining something. And of course in the long run we all gained. I had another son to love. My eldest had a brother who he adored (although he was angry with me for quite a while afterwards; he felt the loss too) and I am so pleased we had another child.

The majority of the women I interviewed for my book were first time mothers and so I could not ask them if they had experienced this. I have met women who did, like me, feel a temporary sense of loss with the birth of their second child. I would love to know what you found? Does it ring any bells with you?

So what is next?

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39 thoughts on “After the birth of baby number two – The biggest surprise

  1. I remember missing time with my toddler when my second one was born. For me the most challenging thing was a practical thing; how to manage to eat when trying to first feed both kiddies and then having them constantly need my attention. I don’t think I had a warm meal for months!

    1. Thanks Urban Mumble. It is lovely to hear from you. Yes I really get that the practicalities of another baby mean that our own needs seem to drop even lower in the ranking and it can be a challenge to work out how to get even those simple needs of having decent food and drink back again, for a while anyway. I personally have no memory of food but I do remember going out and realising that I had not drunk, on a regular basis. In the end I put a stash of juice cartons in the car for me. The majority of mums that I interviewed were really surprised at how the most simple things become a challenge.

      ‘missing time with my toddler’ so echoes that feeling that something has been gained but something lost too. How long did it take for you to adjust to having less time with your older child?

  2. I felt exactly the same when I had my second. I really felt that I had lost that special bond with my eldest. I tried so hard to recapture that one on one time when his little brother was having his nap but it wasn’t the same.
    Now I have 4 and never get the chance to give any of them one on one time!
    Sam recently posted…Big Boy Growing UpMy Profile

    1. Hi Sam. Thanks for your comment. I am pleased it rang true. It was such a shock at the time. Now it is no problem and I am really glad I had another child of course. I honestly can’t imagine how much work you have to do with 4 children.

  3. Such an interesting read! My toddler and I are thick as thieves and the above thought in the second child conundrum hadn’t even crossed my mind – thanks so much for sharing! #sundaystars

    1. Hi Talya, Thanks for your comment. It didn’t cross my mind once either. Having said that though, I am so glad I have my other son now, not just for me but his older brother too. They are great pals (mostly).

  4. I am trying for baby number two so I am always on the look out for posts about what it’s like, when the second child is born.
    I must say I have not come across what you write about, the sense of loss. Though it makes sense. I am sure it will be very strange for me as well to lose that relationship with my firstborn, and I will never have such one on one relationship with baby number two.
    Joanna @mumbalance recently posted…Exactly how much do you save by using dried beans?My Profile

    1. Hi Joanna, Thanks for your comment. It is a wonderful thing to have baby 2, without a doubt. It is great that this has reached you because it is not that it is so overwhelming but rather that myself and some other mothers were very surprised by it because it is not talked about. I hope it helps by knowing that it does happen and it might just make it quicker for you to identify the feeling. Good luck with getting pregnant again.

  5. This was interesting to read and I’m surprised to say that despite being the worlds biggest shoe gazer I never felt this way. Perhaps because no.2 slept a lot during the day so I had lots of time with my toddler. Maybe because I had worked full time until I started my mat leave so the new baby meant I was at home with my toddler again- probably the latter.

    If we do go for number three I can imagine a definite feeling of loss though as the relationship I have with the girls is very grown up now.
    Morna recently posted…You didn’t just say that…….did you?My Profile

    1. Thank you for this. Yes I can see that a good sleeper would help and the timing of maternity leave. This is great food for thought. It shows how all our varying circumstances effect us. I am so curious if number 3 will bring on that feeling, if you decide to go for it.

    1. Hi Christine, I would not make a decision based on this. It is more that I wanted mums to understand that it can happen. The women I spoke to about this we so relieved to hear that it was not just them who had these feelings. It is rarely spoken about. I am so pleased I had my other son. It just took some adjustment. And by no means all women experience it.

    1. Thanks for your comment Laura. I was struck by a memory of leaving my eldest at pre school and having to walk away with his brother. It was so hard to do. Having said that, older siblings learn so much. They learn responsibility, independence and how to consider other peoples feelings. These are good life skills. Now my boys are older I make sure I take time with them individually every so often, which helps. In fact I would say at this stage the eldest gets more one to one time with me as his bed time is later.

  6. Beautifully written and so very relatable. I too experienced this and sometimes still battle with it because I wish I could give my eldest more one on one time like I used to. But I guess the distance and the independence she has is also a lot to do with her growing up. I really enjoyed reading your post x

    1. Thanks for your comment Tanita. I can really relate. It is the challenge of more than one child. Whilst I would not have it differently and am so glad I had two, there is that feeling of not being quite so able to meet the needs of everyone, especially with regards to one to one time. But you are so right, there is a great amount of learning that comes with having a sibling and that does benefit our kids in the long run.

  7. I’m 6 days into being a Mum of 2 and I know what you mean, my little boy is being so good with his sister but I feel quite emotional at times when I see him vying for my attention but I can’t fully give it to him if I’m feeding, changing etc. It’s amazing how my heart burst with love for them both though, amazing feeling.

    Helen – #twinklytuesday
    Helen Gandy recently posted…Glossybox April (Hollywood Edition) – ReviewMy Profile

    1. Your comment has really touched me. I think it is the fact that you are in that place right now. It is amazing to love our children, the most incredible kind of love. Wishing you all the best with your new baby and little boy.

  8. When I was pregnant with my second I was worried what I was doing to my first child but once I saw them together I knew I had made her life so much better, never mind my own. I now have four children and to watch the relationship between them all is amazing. I try everyday to ensure they all get some special time with me #sharewithme
    Mummy Fever recently posted…Money saving tips for families: part nineMy Profile

    1. Thank you for this. I agree with you in that I have no regrets about having another child. I was surprised by that feeling of loss but it was about adjusting. Like you I find the relationship my boys have with each other so reassuring. It is fantastic to see them love another person so much and have so much companionship.

  9. I’m just about to have Baby 2 and this sense of loss is something I’m already anticipating. I keep looking at Tin Box Tot and feeling apologetic that I’m going to have to split my time between her and her new sister when she arrives. I really hope that being aware of this feeling will help me cope with it a bit better when it all happens. I also felt a horrible feeling of loss when I finished work this time. I love my job and the period between going on maternity leave and starting a new chapter in my life seemed like a bit of a void at first. Hormones!! Such a helpful post, thank you #Sharewithme
    Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Suits you #WickedWednesdaysMy Profile

    1. I genuinely believe that being aware will help you. I just wasn’t expecting it and so it surprised me. I had only thought about gaining a new baby. Once I had worked out what the feeling was, it naturally got better. It is an adjustment having baby number 2 but a great one overall. I am so pleased that my boys have each other. I really wish you all the best with Baby 2.

    1. I am sorry to hear that it has been tough. You will come through it and enjoy being a mum again. It takes time, being kind to yourself and a bit of dedication. I am actually writing the chapter in my book on PND now and am busy recalling how tough it is to feel so bad with little ones to care for. Glad to hear you are coming through it. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Three under five must be hard work. It is truly a challenge to find the time for our kids but worth it. thanks for your comment.

  10. Oh yes I felt the same and it’s hard when number two comes along and you have a baby and a toddler and two different stages to help with their needs. In the end we make do don’t we? lol It’s all worth it but boy are those first few months of two hard. lol Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…5 Tips to teaching your child about moneyMy Profile

    1. Thanks for your comment. We do make it work, yes. I am amazed as mums how much we can do and make things work. Thanks for your comment.

  11. I can imagine this feeling. And I am sure it is very common too. I didn’t have this as both of my babies came at once!! Twins was a different dynamic altogether and I actually have guilty feelings that I don’t have enough time for just one. Great post and thanks for linking up #sundaystars
    mummyofboygirltwins recently posted…My summer essentialsMy Profile

    1. Thanks for your comment Vicki. Family can be the best thing with kids when they are willing and able to help. Thanks for hosting.

  12. I remember feeling like this when i had my second child , i felt like i pushing my oldest out that i was not giving her as much attention as i should and i missed it being just me and her. When i had my third my second child was only 14 months old so i feel like i have never had a chance to spend proper one on one time with any of them which makes me sad, but being a family is amazing and i wouldn’t change it for the world x #sharewithme
    Lindsay @ Newcastle Family Life recently posted…The DreamSnatcher By Abi Elphinstone : Book ReviewMy Profile

    1. Hi Lindsay. There is no perfect set up is there. An only child has lots of time and attention but no siblings an eldest child has a sibling but has to adapt to sharing his/her parents and so on. But you are right, having kids is amazing and multiple children does, as we know, bring some loss and guilt with it but a whole heap of joy too. It is par for the course but I would never change it either. Thanks for your lovely comment.

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