Now that I have two children, the most commonly asked question has to be: Which transition was harder- going from zero to one or from one to two? In the months leading up to Felicity’s birth, it was a regular topic of discussion with family, friends, and even strangers. Most people were quick to inform me that the second transition was much more difficult (In fact, I can’t remember a single person who found the first transition harder). This common sentiment left me absolutely terrified.
I did not find the transition from zero to one child easy. I found it downright difficult. I cried more times in that first month with John than in all the years of my life combined. Becoming a parent probably remains the most difficult thing I have ever done. But also the most rewarding.
John’s entrance into my world was akin to an asteroid hitting the earth. He flipped my life, and my priorities, upside down. I was anxious about everything. I logged the ounces he eat, the hours he slept, the diapers he dirtied. I worried about everything. He barely slept, and even when he did, I found myself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, listening for his cries. To say that going from zero to one was difficult is putting it nicely.
Though much of those first few months remains a blur, I distinctly remember the anxiety and fear, so when I heard people telling me how difficult the transition from one to two had been for them, how easy caring for one child became in retrospect, I balked. Nothing could be more difficult than those first few months with John had been. How could this new transition even compare? What unknown, incomprehensible terrors awaited me?
Armed with this knowledge, I quickly tried to forget it. The claim was that knowledge is power, and knowing what was coming would allow me to better prepare. This foreknowledge did no such thing. In fact, most parents, upon telling me how difficult the transition from one to two would be, quickly followed that statement with one that was equally stressful: there’s no way to adequately prepare for this transition besides stocking up on diapers, wipes, and a strong go-with-the-flow mentality. I had plenty of the first two, but absolutely none of the last. The moment I finally felt that I had a handle on parenting one was when John reached the age where a schedule became possible, AKA the moment I didn’t have to go with the flow anymore.
When Felicity arrived, I was completely unprepared for her. Sure, I had plenty of diapers and wipes, and I had even tried to cultivate a go-with-the-flow mentality, but I was completely unprepared for Felicity, and how she would change our lives.
Felicity is the epitome of the “easy” baby. She sleeps well, eats well, and when she’s not eating or sleeping, she’s happy. She’s perfectly content to entertain herself between naps, and I have a whole new appreciation for parents who recount stories where they forgot their children in various places. I haven’t actually left her anywhere, but there have definitely been spans of time where I’ve just forgotten about Felicity sitting in her bouncy seat because she’s so quiet. Fortunately, I’ve never left the apartment during those times.
Sure, I admittedly have some challenging moments during my days with two children. Leaving the house takes twice as long. Felicity has wanted a bottle at the same time John wanted a snack, and John has woken up from his nap just as I move to put Felicity down for hers. There have been a few occasions where I have had both children crying at the same time, but in the grand scheme of things, those moments barely register.
The transition from one to two children has been challenging at times, but I am so much more confident this time around. The learning curve has not been so great with this transition. I am not learning how to change diapers and load children in car seats while also dealing with sleep deprivation. I trust myself as a mother more. I survived infancy once already; I can certainly do it again. This transition has taught me a lot, but the most important lesson is this: every child and every mother is different, so our experience of motherhood will always differ as well. My experience with John is different than my experience with Felicity. My experience of caring for one child is different than caring for two. My experience of motherhood is different than yours. We all face different struggles, different challenges. We all have different emotional triggers and different ways of handling the stress. We all have different gifts, unique talents that make us the mothers that we are. But we all have one thing in common- we are blessed to have been given the children we have, and regardless of how we might feel about ourselves, they are blessed to have us as their mothers as well.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!