Browse any Facebook timeline where a woman announces her second pregnancy, you'll find the standard congratulatory message , as well as redundant advice about how to help the older sibling adjusted, and my favorite making the older sibling your "helper" once baby arrives. Because you know toddlers are such great helpers (inserts side eye). But rarely do you find honest advice about the sh*tstorm that will likely hit once said baby comes, or mothers doubting that they are properly equipped to handle it. I mean after all they've totally done this before.
Even myself, when I got pregnant with my second, aside from the initial "wtf--I'm just getting the hang of this first kid moment", my main worry was robbing my daughter of precious time and attention she needed. Then I went through the standard list, childcare, living arrangements, what we really needed for the baby, time off of work etc. What was missing in the equation? Me. You know the person actually birthing the baby. Sure I knew it was going to be challenging at first, but I spent very little time thinking about what I would really need as I adjusted to the reality of being a mom to a 2yr old and a newborn.
Aside from minor pelvic issues which I did physical therapy and chiropractic alignments for I had a smooth pregnancy. My delivery was as picture perfect as they get (delivered at home by hubby). So you know I was feeling myself. This second time mom thing was a breeze. I even had the nerve to be walking a mile to attend the Purple Party just 6 days after delivery. Can we say #TeamTooMuch?
I did have enough foresight to adjust our schedules so my hubby was doing drop off at pre k and our part time nanny was working more hours. Yet, I still grossly underestimated HOW MUCH help I needed. So I went on doing my best, wrangling 2 small children alone for hours at a time. People have done this for ages, I totally could too.
Except I couldn't. Around the same time all of this was going on I was losing my grandmother (fave person in the world), transitioned from an 11 yr corprate career to just do my biz, not to mention the mental exhaustion of seeing black people being killed just for existing in America. It was tew much.
It all came to a halt, about 5 months in, I was struck by what I have since described as "the plague". It started of as a slight earache I noticed at morning drop off, to full on double ear infection, with migraine by the end of the day, and had me -(miss natural, avoid drugs at all cost)-doubled over begging for all the drugs .
I'll spare you the details but it lasted over 3 weeks, at the peak of it I had a day where I just couldn't take anymore and called my girlfriend sobbing uncontrollably because I just wanted a break. Silver lining I lost 10 lbs because I had absolutely no appetite and was breastfeeding-- you couldn't tell me nothing about how I looked in my skinny jeans!
When I look back at that time period, and the events that preceded "the plague", it's a wonder I didn't get sick sooner.
The number 1 sentiment I hear echoed and over again by moms who just had a second baby, "I didn't expect it to be this hard." Adding another baby to the mix, is not like riding a bike-- it's hard work and moms require even more help the second time around.
So what's a mama to do aside steering clear of people who tell you have the oldest be "your helper" or that you'll be "fine"?
Put yourself on the list and get real about what YOU will need. Think about your current routines, what do you absolutely dread? Where/when does your child give you the hardest time? If you had the option what would you completely take off your plate and delegate to someone else once you have a newborn to tend to? How will you handle dinner time? Bed time? Make a list, then gather your village and don't be afraid to ask for exactly what you need. Your loved ones are here to support you, and I know you've probably heard this before, but they really don't know how they can help unless you ask. So ask away, and be specific.
Also, give yourself permission to SIT DOWN. Literally, take a stadium full of seats at least for the first two weeks. My midwife always recommends 10 days of doing the bare minimum, taking care of the baby, small excercises you can literally do from bed to help you regain strength, and plenty of food and hydration. All of which are easier said than done, but so necessary. You just created a human and now have your entire life to be responsible for two (or more) little humans, but in order to do that as amazingly as you want, you first have to be really good to yourself.
Ease into it, and don't be like Stepha, ask for all the help, for literally as long as anyone is willing to offer.