Expanding our family has constantly been on my mind lately and my husband’s too. Lydia is almost 18 months now, and we both would love to give her a brother or sister. But the question of the hour is when? When is the best time? How far apart should they be? How much do we need to fund this endeavor? If we both continue to work full time how will we juggle another tiny human? What if Lydia doesn’t want a sibling? Can we love both equally? Can I go through that much time with no sleep again? Nursing???
I know that I am not the only mother of one out there with a list of concerns. So, to gain some insight, I turned to the mothers of the Instagram community to gather stories, advice and insight on what it’s like when a family expands. Hearing how other women made the adjustment, or why they are nervous to make the adjustment is helpful and inspiring. I am so excited to share with you the responses I got back from the Q&A session with these two amazing ladies. Being able to learn from each other has been something I have valued so much after entering the world of motherhood. I would love to hear your insight as well – please share in the comments section!
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make as a mother each time your family expanded?
My husband and I were ready for our first. We started trying to expand our family after three years of marriage and within the first month of trying, we conceived! We weren’t expecting it to happen that quickly, but we were so grateful and so excited for the new chapter in life. Today, I currently have 2 children and I’m pregnant with my 3rd. My current two children are 19 months apart and my 2nd from my 3rd’s due date will be 20 months apart.
I believe having my first baby, Vivienne, was the hardest adjustment. You went from little to no responsibility and from the freedom to do anything you ever wanted, to being solely responsible for this little human’s life and happiness.
The biggest adjustment was just learning how to be a parent and learning your new normal. Also not having the freedom and flexibility my husband and I once had. We loved being spontaneous. We worked hard and had long hours so when we had the free time, we liked to have fun and we certainly earned that right!
With Vivienne, we had to get use to planning everything way in advance and our life became much more scheduled. Rather than deciding to go away for the weekend the very last minute or going out to dinner and randomly deciding to stay out and rent a room at a hotel for a night, we had to start making plans in advance and not be so spur of the moment.
Now with 2 kids and one on the way, our schedule is set from the moment we wake up. Of course we still go out and go on vacations, but never last minute and we are fine with that! It was just an adjustment.
Now going from baby number 1 to baby number 2 was honestly a piece of cake! We were already in the thick of parenting and the transition wasn’t so drastic. I mean we already were parents, so what’s one more? We also were very lucky to have had easy babies (knock on wood) that slept through the night very early on and just were go with the flow type of personalities. Maybe I would have had a different perception if my children were harder, but in my experience, going from 1 to 2 was easy.
What got easier?
Parenthood. You just have your routine and schedule and start understanding how to be a parent and with each child it just gets easier. Now there are different stages in children’s lives that are newly challenging, and parenting is never “easy” but you just get more confident and start to find your parenting groove. You become a veteran and trust your gut. For me, with two kids and a third on the way, you don’t have time to sweat the little stuff. You just become more experienced and when you do have those challenging days, call a friend to come over for a glass of wine!
What fears did you have each time your family expanded and how did you overcome them?
For the first, we were more excited than worried. Then we got pregnant with my second and we were excited, but my only fear was for Vivienne, my oldest. I was worried she would feel jealous, or abandoned or just be mad. I also felt guilty that my time would now be split between two children rather than just focusing on my first.
When Eleanor was born, Vivienne was a bit nervous and apprehensive visiting me in the hospital. My mom was there and saw me tear up and said “Melissa, you just gave Vivienne the greatest gift you can ever give her. She just doesn’t know it yet.” That made me feel SO much better and within a month Vivienne couldn’t leave Eleanor’s side and we couldn’t imagine a life without our little Ellie. The second child just gets thrown into the mix, and you just do it! It was an easy transition!
The greatest joy in my life is watching my daughters’ relationship. They are now inseparable and have such a special bond. Obviously there are fights to break up, and they are learning to share or not pull hair, but I’m so happy I was able to give my two daughters a sister. Now expecting my third, I certainly am a tad nervous to officially be out numbered by our children, but I am more excited than anything else.
What advice do you have for new parents or parents thinking about having more children?
Do it! Motherhood is one of the greatest challenges in life but it’s also one of the most rewarding. I can get all sappy and go into what it means to be a mother, but I’ll leave you with some very wise words I was once told:
“This part of life is a season and this season will soon pass. Enjoy it while it’s here. The babies, the diapers, the sleepless nights, the planning and scheduling, the hectic chaos you call life. The days are long but the years are short. Enjoy today mama – it will all be over before you know it. Relish the charms of the present because this season in life will soon pass.”
So don’t wait to have kids. Don’t wait to expand. Don’t over think it. When you’re in it, you’re already in it! There is never a perfect time to have a baby. We want five kids (yes five!) and number three happened a bit quicker than we had planned but we are so excited. We are already in the thick of parenthood so what’s one more? All three kids will be three and under and we are just soaking up every second of this chapter of our life.
In short, enjoy whatever season of life you are in and stay present in the moment. If you’re thinking of expanding your family, just do it! And enjoy the childhood you have created for your little humans because pretty soon they won’t be so little anymore.
What fears do you have when you think about expanding your family?
“My worst fear is wondering if I can be there enough for my little girl. I am scared to see how she will react. You hear so much about how confused, sad and jealous they might get.”
I also fear that I can’t love another child as much as the first one. Everyone says you will, but I don’t see how that’s possible. But I do look forward to experience that feeling one more time. I also think that I will miss doing things with my little girl just her and I. It’s Funny how all of my fears are only about my daughter, but not about the possible new family member and how that will affect me!
As a mother, what do you think will be easier? What do you think will get harder?
The second time you will know how to take care of a baby, and that should be easier. When the kids become a curtain age, they will be able to entertain each other – I hope!
When one child is a handful, it’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like having two! There is a lot that goes into taking care of one baby. Adding that to toddler screaming for attention could definitely get hard!