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The Biggest (and Best) Difference Between Baby #1 and Baby #2

When I worry about parenting, life, and a million other little things, I see how in-love my oldest is with her little sister and I know that for the rest of their lives they will both know an amazing sense of love, safety and connection -- and that calms me down.
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I started writing this article in my hospital bed -- tired, hungry, sore and with a massive headache -- as I watched my newborn girl sleeping in her bassinet.

Despite the exhaustion and pain, this time felt very different from the first. I was happy... relaxed... and less scared. I'd even found the time to do something other than sleep.

I started to think about all the things I had read and heard about having a second child... the things that worried me:

  • Work increases exponentially

  • No longer 'cute couple plus baby,' but 'clan'
  • Strained relationship
  • Less romance
  • More expenses
  • No time
  • More organization required
  • Less novelty and no baby-moon phase
  • And so on...

    So I wondered to myself "why?"

    "Why does it feel much better this time around?"

    Yes, I've done it before.

    Yes, labor and delivery was easier.

    Yes, I know what I'm doing (somewhat at least).

    But this time I'm doing and spending more time on my own as my husband is taking care of our toddler.

    This time I know that I will have double the work and less time for myself.

    This time I am not caught up in the newborn euphoria because I know the hard realities of parenthood.

    So why did I feel so much more hopeful and relaxed?

    Before I had a chance to finish my train of thought, the door opened and my older daughter ran in -- eyes bright, big smile -- jumped on the bed and gave me a giant hug. Babyyyy!! She said. Then "Sister!!!" a new word she'd apparently picked up at nursery.

    And that's when it hit me.

    It's so different and much better second time around because this time I know it's worth it.

    The effort... the stress... the difficulties...

    It's all worth it

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    When my newborn wakes me up every two hours at night, I think of my 2-year-old running to me with arms wide open, and I know every sleepless night will be worth it.

    When I am sore and tired, I just have to listen to my toddler make up sentences or laugh hysterically and I know I can tolerate the physical exhaustion of parenting.

    When I am overwhelmed with the number of things I have to do, I watch my older girl kissing her baby sister, and I know that even among all the "to-do's," I have so many precious moments to look forward to.

    When I worry about parenting, life, and a million other little things, I see how in-love my oldest is with her little sister and I know that for the rest of their lives they will both know an amazing sense of love, safety and connection -- and that calms me down.

    So while I'm not under the illusion that every day (let alone every minute) with my two daughters will be easy or blissful, I know now that the highs of parenting more than make up for its lows.

    It's not because we see parenting through a "rosy glass" or are "deluded" into thinking that it's easy and a recipe for happiness. It's because we see clearly that parenting is hard, but that there are moments of joy -- enough of them -- to make it worth it.