When I had my first baby, it felt like I was rushing through every moment. I couldn’t wait until she no longer had to sleep in a swaddle, I looked ahead to when she’d be done breastfeeding, and like many other parents, I eagerly awaited her first steps.
Looking back, it was a total blur.
My hope has always been to have two kids. So when I was going through all the newborn experiences with my first baby, I already knew in the back of my head that I’d get another chance to do it all again. I thought about this during the challenging moments, like the sleepless nights and while navigating motherhood anxieties, and in those moments, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d do it again. I also thought about it when going through the sweet parts of new parenthood, like having a baby sleep on your chest and getting to hear the first giggles.
In these moments, I did my best to enjoy them, but a part of me almost skipped over them as I started to think about having another baby.
Fortunately, as I had hoped, I had a second baby just shy of two years after my first. Every moment with the second baby has seemed extra precious, as there’s a good chance it will be our last baby. I won’t say for certain there won’t be a third, but the second felt like a given if things went according to plan.
I’m not the first mom to mourn the end of babyhood. I absolutely understand why some moms cry as they pack away (or donate) the newborn onesies. As I give away a lot of our baby gear (and save a bit just in case), I can’t help but try to hold on to every moment with my second baby. With my first, I counted down until we’d hit each exciting milestone. This time around, I feel a mix of excitement and sadness as each milestone passes.
In an attempt to enjoy babyhood, these are the things I’m enjoying to their fullest with my second baby.
1. Sleepless Nights
Before you call me crazy, hear me out. Sleepless nights are limited. And yes, they are incredibly hard when you’re going through them, but there’s something special about picking up your crying baby and seeing their tears instantly stop as soon as their head hits your chest.
Mothers of older kids have warned me that little babies equal little problems and big kids equal big problems. Though the newborn stage is hard, things don’t necessarily all get easier as your kids get older. I know there will be a time in the not-so-distant future where a hold or hug from mom will not soothe my child. While I don’t wish limited sleep on any moms (including myself!), I am trying to enjoy those middle-of-the-night cuddle sessions that instantly bring peace to my baby.
2. Breastfeeding (or Bottle Feeding)
It’s normal to have a complicated relationship with how you feed your babies. As an exclusive breastfeeder, I often find the act to be a nuisance. Your wardrobe is limited (only things that allow you to whip your boob out at a moment’s notice), your body feels like it belongs to someone else, and you find yourself breastfeeding or pumping at all hours of the day and night. Honestly, it’s kind of annoying.
On the other hand, when I’m feeding my baby, it gives us a moment just to ourselves to be quiet and calm. Whether you’re breastfeeding or feeding with a bottle, those intimate moments are just for parent and baby and allow you to slow down. Though I find it annoying some of the time, I know I’ll miss it when it’s over.
3. Baby Wearing
Looking back on my time with my first baby, I did not baby wear nearly enough. With two under 2, baby wearing is actually a necessity. It’s often the only way to safely care for both kids at the same time and to get anything done. I wear my second baby as much as possible. Initially, it was because it was the only way to survive a day with my baby and toddler, but now, it’s because I love it so much. There’s nothing better than my little baby in tow and his cute head inches away for a kiss. As my toddler runs around like a crazy kid, I hold my baby just a little bit tighter.
If with baby #1 I was eagerly encouraging her to hit every milestone as early as possible, with the second, it’s the opposite. You haven’t rolled over yet? That’s fine! You’re not crawling yet? Amazing! Of course it’s important to hit milestones and of course I want my baby to be on the right timeline developmentally, but I’m not rushing things and I’m enjoying the moments before those milestones are hit. I wanted to brag about how early my first baby learned to walk, but this time around, I’m happy to wait.
5. The Exhaustion
Motherhood to me feels like saying “we’re really in the thick of it” every single day of every single week. That’s truly how it feels. It’s really hard and really exhausting. But man, are these the days. I know I’ll look back on this incredibly full season of life and think about it with a lot of love. It feels really hard and exhausting right now but in the most amazing way possible.
I know I’ll look back on this incredibly full season of life and think about it with a lot of love.
Often, I’ll be carrying my baby down the stairs and my toddler will ask me to carry her as well. I rarely say no. Every time I carry them both down the stairs together, my toddler happily announces, “two babies!” And though my arms are tired, it might just be the best moment of my day.
6. The Togetherness
My first baby wasn’t even 1 year old when the pandemic hit. We spent a lot of time together. And by a lot of time, I literally mean all of the time. The pandemic is a downright terrible thing, but it did have the silver lining of me getting to spend extra time with my baby hunkered down at home. I wanted her to get a chance to be around other kids and to go to school, and fortunately she’s now able to attend an in-person preschool. She happily jumps out of the car each morning and I’m so happy to see her excited for school. There’s a tiny piece of me that can’t believe how old she is and that she isn’t with me all day.
I wonder: What does she talk about on the playground? Is she making friends? And what is this song she’s singing that I certainly didn’t teach her? In a way, it’s heartbreaking to think that this is the beginning of more and more time we’ll spend apart, but I know that’s life as kids grow up. So for the time being, I will relish in every single second that my baby is with me before he too heads off to preschool.
Before having my own kids, I never really understood mothers who wanted their kids to “never grow up.” I always thought, don’t you want them to grow up and see the exciting milestones and changes? But now I get it. While, of course, we want our babies to grow up, it’s bittersweet to say the least. And though I may be in the thick of it, I’m happy to hold on to the fleeting moments of babyhood, both the good and the bad, for as long as I can.