Becoming A First Time Mom... All Over Again

Why comparing your first baby, with your second baby, with your third baby is an exercise in futility


It was an epiphany! I’ve realized that every time you have a baby, you become a first time mother again. As anyone who has more than one child knows, no two babies are alike.

I’ve spent the last two years, saying, “That never happened with Rowan,” and, “Rowan never did that!” And, “I don’t know why he won’t sleep. Rowan was such a good sleeper.” And, “With Rowan, I just did (fill in the blank) and it worked! Why isn’t it working now?”

All this time I’ve been comparing what Holt does (or doesn’t do) to what my first baby did (or didn’t do.)

And then it hit me! Like no two snowflakes are alike, no two babies are alike. I know this sounds ridiculous. You’re probably saying, “Of course no two babies are alike!” But when you have previous experience with a baby, you can’t help but compare the two.

For example, Holt’s favorite word now is, "No." I could say, “It’s nice outside” to him and he’ll say, "No." I look back and think, “I don’t think Rowan was like this. She always listened to me.”

Or, when he has temper tantrums, I’ll be like, “Rowan wasn’t like this. She never had tantrums.” Or, “Rowan could sleep through a fire alarm! Why do I have to tip toe on the top floor, as silent as a teenager trying to sneak in, late for curfew, around Holt when he’s napping?”

I was constantly comparing my two babies, before it hit me. Right! They’re two different babies! But all us parents, who have more than one child, can’t help compare our babies with our previous experience.

I had to stop comparing, because, really, Rowan was a pretty idealistic baby and toddler, while, with Holt, he’s a friggin' nightmare. He climbs over everything. He jumps out of his crib. He runs like a maniac. He gives me a heart attack almost every two hours. He needs to be constantly entertained. Rowan wasn’t like that! (Oops. There I go!)

Babies and toddlers are interesting, to say the least. Why and how can they be so different from one another is beyond me, especially if they’re coming out of the same person and are being raised the same way?

I know people who had, like me, great first babies (as far as being as good as a baby or toddler can be) and then had a second colicky baby, who kept them up for almost a year. They are kind of in shock, because they never expected it.

Likewise, I’ve known parents who had colicky first babies, while their next baby sleeps like a charm.

All I can say is that it’s better to have a colicky baby, or a too-much energy baby first, and then have a good baby, because you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Because it is most definitely harder to have a second child, who is a terror (Holt!) because you’re wondering, “But this didn’t happen the first time around!” And you, too, are kind of in shock. And, then, you compare.

And it’s not really fair to compare one sibling over the other, because you’re just left shaking your head, continually saying to yourself, “I signed up for a good baby. Like the last time”

This is why when you are pregnant for a second, or even third and fourth time, that you become a first time mother again. Even coming from the same parents, children are just so different from each other. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life comparing my children, or else, when Holt is a teenager, I’ll probably be like, “But Rowan always made her curfew!” So, I’ve stopped comparing my past experience being a mother, and have embraced the fact that I’m a whole new mother again, as if it’s my first time. You may be well versed on "What to Expect when You’re Expecting," but don’t except your offspring to be anything alike. Yes, like snowflakes.

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