What It Like Having 2 Under 2?
2 under 2. The phrase famously associated with being totally exhausted, drained, and somewhat brave. But is it really as hard as it sounds? I mean, you've gone through pregnancy and a newborn before, it's all the same, right? Or is it totally different? (Full disclosure: I didn't actually have 2 under 2. When my daughter was born, my son was almost 26 months old.)
First off, everyone's situation is different, and everyone's pregnancy is different. Even if you've been pregnant before, your second pregnancy is likely to be different than your first.
(Rather watch than read? Check out my video here! Otherwise, read on!)
THINGS THAT WERE THE SAME
The first thing that comes to mind is that the risk factors were the same and
the timelines and the struggles and successes with conception were also the same. For us, it took the same amount of effort and struggles in order to get pregnant, but that's different for everybody. Your situation is going to be different than mine, and the person next to you. The only thing is that now I was over the age of 35, which means I was classified as a "geriatric pregnancy."
When I say risk factors, I mean, things like, I had gestational diabetes in both of my pregnancies. For both of my pregnancies, I was induced, and the process, and how long that took, and how difficult it was, was similar. Also, some
of the difficulties from my first pregnancy came back in my second pregnancy. For example, I had a muscle tear in my ribs that made it really difficult to breathe and to push. The same pelvic floor issues during pregnancy and post-partum were similar and something that I'm sure is similar for all pregnancies is that I had major difficulties sleeping.
THINGS THAT WERE THE DIFFERENT
For me, the #1 difference was: symptoms. My pregnancy symptoms were so different. In my first pregnancy I had no cravings whatsoever. None. My husband was so excited to go out in the middle of the night to get poutine
for me, and that just did not happen. However, in my second pregnancy, I definitely had midnight and random food cravings. So. Much. Bubble tea! In my first pregnancy I was nauseous for 5 months straight. For my second
pregnancy, I was only nauseous for half of the first trimester. Active labour was also very different for the two pregnancies. For the first, as expected, active labour and pushing took a lot longer (I think something like 2 hours straight of pushing) whereas for the second, I was pushing for 15 minutes. No one wants to talk about tearing, but let's face it, if you're planning on having a vaginal birth, you have to be open to it. I'm not going to go into detail, but let's just say I did not tear the same way for my two pregnancies. Another thing that was different
for me was the need for assisted delivery options. My son required a vaccuum to get his big head out, my daughter did not.
I think the biggest difference is that, going into my second delivery, I was way more prepared. For my first delivery, I was actually terrified of giving birth, whereas the second time around, I kind of knew how this was going to go, I was more educated about the different options that I had, and I knew what I wanted. Because I'd just given birth two my son two years earlier, I actually didn't feel the need to attend any prenatal classes, or get a refresher. Also, I realized, you really don't need that much at the hospital, and I packed way less stuff. Less clothing, more snacks! How to take care of a newborn was still pretty fresh in my mind so those first few days in the hospital and at home were a lot easier.
WHAT'S THE BEST AGE GAP BETWEEN TWO KIDS?
A question I see a lot on mom boards is, "what's the best age gap between your two kids?" To be honest, there's positives and negatives with any age gap, but I'll talk to you from my experience. Some of the good things about
having them this close in age is that my son really wasn't old enough to understand jealousy in those early days. So bringing baby home wasn't really a big deal. What's also kind of nice is that they're close enough in age that even at this young stage - my daughter's 9 months old and my son's almost 3 - they can actually laugh with each other. They actually play with each other. My son is an active, running, non-stop talking, non-stop moving toddler. You can imagine how challenging things like breastfeeding were my 2-year-old running around.
One of the major things we deal with is sound in the house. There's almost always somebody trying to take a nap at any time during the day. A lot of the time I find myself trying to make sure the baby crying doesn't wake up my son, or that my son playing doesn't wake up the baby. Now, while my son is almost 3 years old and he does have some level of independence - he wants to do everything himself, he's also not yet old enough that I can give him major tasks to help me or to keep him preoccupied while I'm doing something with the baby. At around almost 3, he's just learning what it means to clean up and not leave his tiny toys around where she can eat them. He is learning how to put himself to bed, but he's not yet old enough that he can do all of these tasks by himself.
To be honest, the main reason that I decided to have my kids this close together was that I didn't want to have any further interruptions to my health or my career. In addition, I wanted them to be close enough that they could play with
each other when they're older and not feel that there's a gigantic maturity gap. Also, little side note, it took me a really long to recover from pregnancy and I felt like if I was older that it would take me even longer with each subsequent pregnancy.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A SECOND PREGNANCY?
What about baby's stuff? Do you need more stuff? The answer is, mostly no. You should have a lot the same equipment and clothing. It's great if you're a parent who doesn't really care about gender specific clothing, because then your kids can wear the same stuff.
You might think that if you're going to have two kids that you need to have a double stroller. If your toddler is anything like mine, at 2 years old, he does not want to stay still. He wants to be running, walking, and does not want to sit in a stroller. We had every intention of turning our stroller into a double stroller, however what we've realized is we really don't need to because my son will walk, or run most of the time - wait a minute. Let's be real, my son runs everywhere. In hindsight we really didn't need to get the stroller that could be adapted into a double.
What we really did need to buy was furniture for my son's new room. My daughter was in out room for the first few months, but then shortly after she moved into the nursery. Before that, we set up my son's new room, which meant we needed new furniture - a new bed, shelves, everything. And I do recommend that if you're going to move your toddler out of his room that you do it well before baby arrives so that he doesn't understand that baby is taking his place. But other than that, you really don't need to buy more stuff. As always, my recommendation is to see what you already have and then supplement as you go. With the ease of today's e-commerce platforms, if you should need something, you'll be able to get it.
LASTLY, WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE HAVING 2 UNDER 2?
Not gonna lie. Some days are hard. At any given time, some one is trying to nap and it's nearly impossible to synchronize their schedules so that they nap at the same time. Also, in those early days they will often not eat at the same time. There's a little bit of a dance trying to figure out do I feed the baby first, or get my son ready at the table? With my son we never really used a sound machine, but we found that for my daughter we really needed it in order to drown out the sounds of my son playing.
Also it goes without saying that some days, I'm just really, really tired. Whether it's trying to entertain the 2 year old, or trying to juggle my time between the two children. My husband and I often have a divide-and-conquer strategy. Naturally one parent sort of ends up taking care of one, and the other watches the other. In those early days, I spent a lot more time with my baby, and my husband spent a lot more time with my toddler.
If you have a partner, I do recommend having refreshed conversations about things like, night-time care, and being relieved during the day, and managing time for self-care. For example, one adjustment that we made was that I would almost entirely deal with the night feeds so that my husband could deal with my son when he woke up.
The last thing I want to touch on is second-child guilt. Leading up to the birth of my daughter, I felt really guilty and I felt like I was robbing my son of time with me. I felt like I was not giving my daughter the opportunity to have the same childhood that my son had. I kept thinking, "there is no way I can love another child as much as I love my son."
I read somewhere once that parents worry that they won't have room in their heart for another child and that you shouldn't worry because your heart actually expands. And it's true - I don't know that I'm describing it well, but all I can say is that once you actually get there, you realize that you didn't have to worry about anything.
So there you go, those are my reflections on my two pregnancies - the similarities, the differences, and trying to answer some questions I know I had when I was pregnant with my second. At the end of the day, everyoneis different, everyone's situation is different, and really every pregnancy can be very, very different. If you have any feedback, I want to know! Was your experience similar to mine or do you have advice for other moms?