What It’s REALLY Like Transitioning From One Child to Two

August 13, 2018

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After I became pregnant with Charlie, I spent the next 9 months fretting and worrying about how little sister’s arrival would affect her big sister. I worried about jealousy, sibling rivalry, would Emma think we loved her less, would she been mean to her little sister, etc, etc, etc? Some days Emma was excited to be a big sister. Others, she was insisting that she wanted to be the little sister. She wanted to be a baby. My constant concern was about Emma’s well-being. I had heard that going from one to two is hard . . . harder than going from none to one . . . and even harder than going from two to three! But still, I wondered and worried solely about Emma.

a sleeping newborn, resting on a boppy pillow, with a toddler girl laying beside her, looking at the baby

Then Charlie made her appearance. In the hospital, Emma was kind of hot and cold. Fascinated by the baby, but upset that she couldn’t stay with us and that we couldn’t go home with her. But once we got home, any worry I had about Emma’s reaction to her sister faded. She adored her little sister and was quick to kiss her, hug her, and help me take care of her. I used to say that my only complaint was that she loved her a little too much. Never leaving her side or giving her space.

You’d think that with such a fantastic reaction from big sister, the transition would be a breeze. But it wasn’t. In all that time I spent worrying about Emma, I never really stopped to consider how adding a second child would affect me.

It was hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be.

a newborn and a toddler girl lying next to eachother, on a blanket, on the grass, looking at the camera

Emma was 3 when Charlie was born, and overnight fell into the Terrible Threes. “Isn’t it the Terrible Twos?” you ask. No. No, it is not. It’s the Terrible Threes. All the emotions with no idea how to control them. Old enough to be independent and want to do everything themselves, but still too young to do much without help. Now I had two tiny humans that were solely reliant on me for their every need. Neither of them could get themselves food. Neither of them could change their own diapers. And, apparently, neither of them could entertain themselves. It felt like they both always needed something from me . . . and always at the same time!

an exhausted mother taking a selfie, wearing an infant wrapped to her front and a toddler girl straped to her back

Their nap schedules were different too, so I never had any time alone, without someone crying or calling for me. Then, hubby and I had the bright idea to start potty training Emma (which took 9 long months and was a total nightmare, but that’s another story). Imagine trying to feed a newborn, while sitting on the edge of the tub, holding your toddlers hand, while they spend 45 minutes screaming and crying about using the potty. Sound like fun? It’s not.

Add to that the fact that I was exclusively pumping for Charlie and was suffering from (at the time) undiagnosed postpartum depression . . . saying that it was chaos would be putting it mildly. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a hurricane.

a toddler girl sitting on a boppy pillow behind her infant sister

More than once, I cried myself to sleep at night, wondering “What have I done??” I was sure that I’d ruined our lives by bringing another child into it. It wasn’t that I didn’t love her, because I did, but life seemed exponentially more difficult . . . too difficult . . . and I wasn’t sure I could handle it. There were days where I cried. Days where I screamed. Days when I all I wanted to do was run away and not come home.

But, slowly, the panic and stress and uncertainty started to fade. I’m not sure when it happened, or how. Maybe it was when we finally developed some sort of routine. Maybe it was when I was able to drop a couple pumps, and be more present with my family. Or maybe it was when I went back to work, and didn’t have to spend every second of every day being torn in two different directions by my demanding brood. I just don’t know.

a smiling family, with two little girls, standing in front of cacti

(Photo Credit: Melissa Young Photography)

What I do know, is that ultimately I found myself on the other side. I was able to breath again. We found a rhythm that worked for us. I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore.

By no means do I think I have this whole mom of 2 thing down. I doubt I ever will. Parenting is hard. Things get loud and messy and chaotic, but I no longer feel like I’m standing in the middle of a hurricane. The storm has faded and I can finally feel the sun on my face.

And it feels great.


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