When you’re pregnant with your first baby, everyone tells you how much your relationship will change when you become a parent. “No more impromptu trips to the pub for you!” they joke. “Gone are the days when you can waltz out for dinner at a moments’ notice” they say with a certain amount of glee. Everywhere you turn it seems there’s someone ready and waiting to tell you to “make the most of your freedom” before your baby comes along, because life will never be the same again.
And they’re all right, of course. But what they all fail to mention (or, in my case at least) is that a second baby puts just as much – if not more – pressure on a relationship. And it’s not just your relationship with your partner that’s squeezed, it’s your relationship with your older child too.
I first realised how much our family dynamic had shifted a couple of weeks ago when, at midnight, my four year old got sick. In times of old, before I was a mum to a new baby again, I’d have put my daughter in bed with me while her dad would have been turfed out. Sick days were definitely “Mummy Days”, and Frog wanted me and me alone to look after her.
This night, however, I couldn’t do any of that. I had a baby to feed so I couldn’t stay in Frog’s bedroom with her. And she couldn’t come into our room, in case she made her baby sister sick too. So it was up to the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine to take on sick duty, while I looked after the baby.
The following morning I woke up to find Frog and her dad fast asleep on a makeshift bed on the floor, with a sick covered duvet by the washing machine and her stripped mattress drying out on her bed. When they both woke up the NLM told me how he’d stayed up with Frog through the night while she vomited every half an hour. He told me how he’d held her hair back and brought her fresh water to drink between each sicky episode. He told me how she cried because it hurt, but she was brave and didn’t ask for me once.
And that’s when I saw my husband in a whole new light (again). I appreciated (again) what a good dad he is. And I realised (again) how close he is to our eldest daughter. In fact, since baby girl arrived 15 weeks ago, he’s closer to Frog than ever before. They have more “in” jokes together, regularly do things just the two of them – even if it’s just a trip to the supermarket – and are a proper little team in a way that they weren’t before we were a family of four.
That’s not the only relationship that’s changed since baby number 2 arrived though. My own relationship with Frog has shifted too. She’s no longer my “baby”, but is now my big girl. Without even realising it I speak to her in a more grown up way – it’s like she’s become a little friend and helper. And when we do get time alone, just the two of us, she laps it up in a way that she didn’t before, when it was taken for granted. We have our own “in” jokes and she thrives on being the “big girl” now she’s got a little sister.
And then there’s my relationship with the NLM. There have been days when the baby is screaming, Frog is throwing a tantrum, the house is a tip and the weekend chores list is as long as my arm. Add to that the fact we’re both existing on minimal sleep at the moment due to a nocturnal baby and it’s a recipe for a row.
But although there have been snappy occasions, there have been far more funny ones. Like when I tried to communicate with the NLM via the baby monitor and he thought we had a ghost. Or when the baby did a wee all down his newly washed jeans. Or when Frog pronounced me “a stress head” and reminded me to chill the hell out about the mess, sounding more and more like her dad every day.
Our family dynamic has completely shifted. Sometimes it feels like we’re all getting to know each other all over again, as we see each other in a new light. But, far from that being a bad thing, it’s actually pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing how things alter even more once baby girl is a walking talking little person, ready to join in and add her own unique slant to things.Follow
Kirsty Wyatt says
What a lovely post. When I first read the title I was a bit apprehensive about reading it with baby no.2’s impending arrival as there’s no going back for us now but I’m so glad I did.
You’ve got such an exciting time ahead of you. I promise, it’s brilliant (apart from the baby wee down leg). x
Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks says
What a lovely post, its made me more excited about #2 arriving! And NLM and Frog on the sick night, oh that made me well up (hormones!)
Look forward to reading more on your adventure xx
You should be excited – it’s brilliant! Obviously there are tough bits and there’ve been days where I’ve felt like I’m drowning, but on the whole life with two is very special (and fun). x
Magical, insightful and full of warmth. Love this post Molly
Ah thank you Melody. What a lovely comment. Brightened up my Monday! x
another brilliant post molly!! I def think number two changes things a hell of a lot more than number one ever did. It’s easy (er) to get someone to look after one but TWO children?! I wouldn’t even ask!! Also, one comes with you to everything, and even gets chucked in running buggy for 20 mile runs, but two?? Er no. Everything is way harder in every single way!!! But totally amazing too
Oh yes – babysitting two children is a whole new ballgame! And 20 mile runs? That never happened in my house pre-kids, let alone with two. I’m in awe of you!
Really heartwarming, honest and funny. I’m sharing this one thank you!
Ah thank you Eleanor. I’m glad it made sense – was written on approximately 57 minutes sleep in 24 hours!
Ah I had my son when my girl had just turned two and everything went crazy. I remember weeping as I was potty training and he was a new born and I was hormonal. It really is a change from one to two. It took me about a year or so to finally get the hang of it. My son is two now and they actually play with each other. Which is fan ruddy tastic! x
I’ve got to admit the thought of a toddler and a newborn terrifies me! Mind you, my eldest was by no means a “low maintenance” toddler!
Clara Wiggins says
I definitely found going from one to two was a bigger jump than I’d expected. And yes the family dynamic changed. My eldest daughter formed a strong bond with my husband that remains to this day (they’re now 9 and 7). In the meantime the youngest and I became a unit. Yep it definitely all changes!
It does change, something I was kind of worried about before but now I see I needn’t have worried!
My daughter is also 15 weeks, and my son turns two next month, and I can honestly say I smile everyday, it’s so wonderful having two. Hard worth, but worth it.
Your man sounds like a wonderful dad! I love your posts.
Ah thank you! Your two sound lovely – bet you have some entertaining times in your house as they interact!
Call me mummy Tola says
What a beautiful post! This is something I’m getting ready for myself and I’m scared silly about it! I lovely my baby girl silly but I know when her sibling arrives things will change! I’m just hoping we’ll all rise to the occasion and it’ll make us all stronger as a family unit! Hubby keeps saying I’m worrying over nothing and I’m sure I am but i just can’t help it! Reading this from you is definitely reassuring so thanks for putting it out there… X
I was worried about the change in dynamic too. I genuinely worried about my eldest feeling left out etc. Of course there’ve been times when I haven’t been able to jump to her straight away because I’ve had my hands full with the baby, but she’s been very understanding and loves to “help” when she can!
Aww that’s a lovely post; I think second (and third) babies do force you to step back and let the Dad’s be the main parent for the eldest for a bit and it’s so lovely to watch that relationship develop. H always says Kitty swung over to him the day Elma was born and hasn’t looked back since and he’s probably right, but I know he treasures the closeness he has with her because my hands were tied up with Elma and now Pip.
Very similar situation here – I think Frog has found a new admiration for her daddy since her little sister came along.
Adele @ Circus Queen says
There’s lots familiar here. We’re seeing another dynamic emerging with Laurence bonding lots more with Our second now she’s that bit bigger and not as dependent on me. Crazy how big the first looks compared to the second. I still have to remind myself that Talitha is only little and that Ophelia is growing up too.
I remember the relationship changing between Frog and the NLM when she got big enough to start talking to him and playing properly. Such a lovely thing to witness.
This got me all emotional (damn those pregnancy hormones haha), what a fantastic post. This has made me even more excited to be having number 2 xx
It’s lovely to see the relationships develop – you should definitely be excited!