Mel was my dance teacher throughout my entire dancing career. I always valued her calm presence, wisdom, honesty, and joy in everything she approached. Thanks for chatting all things baby number 2! Can you tell us five things about yourself?
I’m 36 years old and am married with 2 children. Jacob (6) and Noah (3). I co-own and run my own dance studio with my best friend of over 20 years. I’m a bit of a geek, I worked in IT for over 10 years and I love Lego and Star Trek. I’m not a morning person. I hate coffee, but love chocolate.
How did you find the fourth trimester and first year with your first baby, Jacob?
I really identified with your blog post about this. For me, it was very different to what I expected. I’m a person that likes to read instructions and follow them. Babies don’t work this way of course, it’s much more about following your baby’s lead and your instincts and I found it very challenging to find the confidence to do this.
I had a caesarean section which was not what I had planned and following that had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding. Natural birth and breastfeeding were two things that I really wanted to do so I felt in many ways that I had failed. Failed as a woman, failed as a mother, failed my baby. I ended up with postnatal depression after the baby blues didn’t ease up in the first few weeks.
Eventually when Jacob was about 6 months old I found my feet and was enjoying being with my baby more and more. I cried when he turned 1! It was such an emotional time, my baby growing so much, the fact that we had made it through a whole year and how excited I was to watch him learn and grow even more.
How did you find the transition from 1 to 2 children?
By the time Noah arrived Jacob had recently turned 3 and I had a wonderful supportive group of mummy friends. I knew so much more about babies in general as well as the specific challenges I faced the first time around. I knew myself, I knew how to be a mother, I knew what I wanted and how to find the support I needed to get through the tough parts this time.
In terms of bringing a second baby home, the transition was not much of a difference for us as a family. The biggest change was not being available to spend as much time with my eldest. That’s where the mummy guilt comes in with an additional child. Personally, I went through much more mummy guilt before Noah arrived. I asked myself questions constantly like ‘Am I a good enough mother to deserve a second child?’, ‘What if I don’t spend enough time with each child?’, ‘Will people judge me for having a second child and think I should not have more?’. My beautiful friends were there when I felt that way, with hugs, kind words, and encouragement that yes, I could do it and I would be great.
What are some things you wish you knew when you had your first baby that you learnt with your second?
I learnt so many things in the time between my first and second child. Mainly around birth and breastfeeding as these were the areas I was most concerned about, but also about children in general. Here are a few of the most important ones to me:
Postnatal depression can be caused by many different factors. For myself a main cause was vitamin deficiencies. Mainly D and B12 which I was very low in before and after Jacob’s birth. I saw a naturopath before trying to conceive Noah right through to about 12 months after he was born. This made a huge difference for me, I had more energy during pregnancy. Very little baby blues and supported breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding does not come naturally to many women and is a learned skill. We can’t expect to know how to do something we don’t see often in society and is not taught or talked about. I did a lot of research on this myself as it was something important to me. I took an ABA course in breastfeeding, I followed blogs, I watched my friends breastfeed their babies and asked them lots of questions. I discovered why Jacob and I had issues the first time around (tongue and lip ties, flat / inverted nipples) and how to correct these next time.
There are lots of ‘right’ ways to take care of your baby. The best way to learn about babies is to spend time with babies and the mums, not from books. Relationships and those you surround yourself with are more important than anything you read in a book. I’m a big book and instruction lover but I threw out some baby books that were causing me more stress than they were worth with Jacob! I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Find your village and forget about the rest of the noise.
Have you got any advice for a mama about to make the transition from 1 to 2 children, or considering trying for their second?
You don’t have to follow the ‘rules’. The rules from a book with one opinion on sleeping / feeding / playing. The rules you set yourself, the ‘When I have a baby I will never…’. The rules you followed for your first child. Forget those, forget what you did the first time around if it caused you stress or if this baby doesn’t like those things. It’s okay to do things differently. This is a different baby and it is a different mother/baby relationship.
For me one of my rules with Jacob was ‘I will never co-sleep with my baby’. Hahaha, Noah is still sleeping in my bed for part of the night most nights now at 3 years old and I love it. Another was ‘I will never get my boobs out and just feed my baby anywhere’. Queue more laughter, I fed anywhere and everywhere with Noah and it was wonderful.
The second and probably most important piece of advice came from my dad. I was so worried about how I would love another child. How can I possibly have room for a second when my first is taking up my whole being? How can I push my first aside to make room? His answer was that you don’t need to share your love between two children. Your heart becomes bigger when you have another child and you have more love to give. Love enough for each child, not shared, but doubled.
Thanks so much for sharing your wise insights, Mel. We hope this interview helps you prepare your heart, body and mind as you prepare for your next baby.