Is A Second Baby A Second Chance?

When you decide to have a second baby, are you actually giving yourself a do-over?

So often people with multiple kids mention how different their children were as babies: one was shy, the other wild; one ate anything, the other was very picky. Likewise, I’m told that no two pregnancies are the same, that morning sickness your first pregnancy doesn’t mean morning sickness your second, but that a smooth first pregnancy doesn’t ensure an easy second one either.

Though I hear these things, and believe them, part of me can’t shake wondering if a second baby is also a second chance. I am not pregnant, but I consider having a second child often. When I reflect on my first pregnancy and my first baby, it’s hard not to think of these experiences as a learning curve. Would I parent differently? Buy different gadgets? Get or skip different tests? If I did do things differently, what would that mean?

I know circumstances could change things drastically, things like income and where we are living. I also know another baby could be entirely different. My daughter had no health issues, but was a terrible sleeper. She never took to a soother or bottle, but wasn’t picky about solids when she started them. She skipped crawling, spoke early, never had a transitional object and did well in larger daycare centres.

These things aren’t true of other kids I know, and the likelihood a second baby would be cooperative and difficult in the same ways is low.

But, suspend this known reality for a moment, and consider: if everything went the same way as the first time, what decisions would I make?

I might get an obstetrician rather than a midwife. I might opt to stay in the hospital longer after my baby was born than I did the first time. Neither of those I’m sure on. I would definitely opt for pain killing drugs, which I didn’t have the first time. I would want to do a mixture of bottle and breastfeeding. I’m torn on the soother issue. I would set up a crib much, much later.

Before we have kids, most of us think we know what we’ll be like as parents. The age old “when I have kids…” is thrown out on any number of topics; whether that’s about screen time, or sugar intake, teaching or avoiding competition, or any other number of things. Once I had Anna, I was struck not only with how much of that stuff changed, but how often I found myself thinking, “if I do this again…”

So much of early parenthood is trial and error: which brands fit my baby best? Does cloth diapering work for us? Should we co-sleep if the baby isn’t sleeping? How do the bottles with the bags compare to the glass ones? The stroller I researched diligently was awful. The one I got as a hand-me-down was considerably better. The natural disposable diapers I thought were the best option for us economically and environmentally leaked. There were things on my baby shower list that I could have used four more of, and others that collected dust in the end.

It’s not that I second guess the decisions I made with Anna, but it’s hard not to wonder, now that I have first-hand experience with all the things there are to wonder about.

A big difference, if I were to have another baby, is that it would be growing up with a sibling from the get-go, which, of course, Anna did not. Not being a first-time parent will change things considerably, but it will still be the first time I am the mother of two. All the wondering aside, I’m likely to change my mind to accommodate our particular needs once the baby is no longer hypothetical.

And then, there are all the decisions hormones make—I had Anna’s first and middle name chosen since before I was pregnant, but in those first minutes after she was born, I almost changed my plan entirely. 

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