Raising my second daughter is a hugely different experience to raising my first. Despite having my first daughter, a step son, and a career going on at the same time, which should make the experience altogether harder, it is in fact significantly easier.
I’ll explain why.
1) I DON’T WORRY ABOUT MILESTONES
When I first had Rose I googled everything. I knew what she should be able to do at every stage in her life, scoured the emails I got listing what she should be achieving, and I obsessed about it.
I trust my instincts far more this time. If I think something’s wrong I’ll seek advice from professionals, but I don’t need to constantly monitor every last thing she does, or doesn’t do, and because of that I’m not being told by various different internet “experts” that something’s wrong that isn’t.
They get there in the end. Sure, if she seems significantly delayed in an area I’ll get her seen, but I generally I just don’t care. She’ll get there when she’s ready.
2) I DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK
With Miss Rose I wanted to prove I could do it. I wanted to show people I could be a good mum and that meant I wanted them to think I’m a good mum, and that meant I had to do the things they thought make you a good mum.
And everyone thinks different things! Whether it’s breastfeeding, co-sleeping, what they wear, where you take them… everyone will have an opinion on what you should or should not be doing.
Now I just don’t care. I know I can do it because I’ve already done it, and what other people think just doesn’t matter. I parent my way, not their way. She’s my child, not their child.
3) I CO-SLEPT FROM THE START
With Miss Rose it took weeks of nightly misery before I eventually succumbed to co-sleeping and I felt like I was a failure. I agonised over it and swore I would put a stop to it as soon as I was able. I felt ashamed of myself.
This time? We have a c0-sleeper crib on the side of the bed. Sometimes she goes in it, sometimes she doesn’t. It gives us space on the side of the bed that she can safely roll into without the threat of falling out of bed and I just don’t worry about it. She breastfeeds all night sometimes, on and off others, and just a bit on rare ones. But whatever kind of feeding night it is I don’t have to move more than just slightly changing position to offer her the other nipple. She sleeps contentedly because she is against me, warm and safe, and never feels cold or alone or afraid. She is content and secure. She literally never cries at night.
4) SHE WEARS WHAT I WANT TO PUT HER IN
Don’t put your little girl in pink, always dress a newborn in white, never leave a baby in a onesie all day. Always dress girls like girls, babies should wear bright patterns, dressing a baby up is selfish and makes them uncomfortable.
These thoughts were banging around in my head as the words of passing strangers, family and friends all rocketed about. What am I supposed to dress her in!?!
With Baby B she wears what I fancy dressing her in. Today she’s just wearing soft cotton onesie. Other days she wears a pretty dress and flowery tights, other times dungarees or leggings. Because honestly, it just does not matter.
5) I HAVE DISTRACTIONS
With Miss Rose I gave up work, had very little to do other than raise her, and I was obsessed. I knew every little thing she did at every moment. I knew everything about her. I obsessed over her. Because nothing else was around to take my attention.
As hard as it is getting everything done whilst trying to raise and breastfeed a newborn, the constant barrage of distractions from work as well as the other children means I just do not notice or have time to worry about the small stuff. I don’t have the time to obsess that I used to.
It’s not that I care less, or even really that I worry less, it’s simply that I don’t have time to indulge in those concerns and therefore have to just assume everything’s okay. And it is!
6) I’M MORE SUPPORTED
With Miss Rose I lived out in the countryside in a beautiful big house that was extremely isolated. I had no friends with children, at least not at first, and the friends I did have worked all week so I didn’t get to see them much anyway. I lacked adult interaction, and because my husband at the time was away a lot and not very involved, I felt extremely alone.
This time my partner is very involved, I have friends, I live in town close to other people, and I have regular contact with people who help and offer kindness and understanding. And it makes a HUGE difference. I know now that it’s something I need to ensure I maintain as well, and I do.
Of course, elements do make it harder. There’s no doubt I’m completely drained with trying to keep up with everything, I have less time and attention for all of the children, and I worry that everyone suffers because of it… but for the most part adding Baby B to the family has been so much easier than I expected, and so much easier than when I had Miss Rose.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!