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What on earth were we thinking? (Part 1 of series on preparing for baby #2)


Complete panic.

It's 3:00am. I'm 30 weeks pregnant. My 2 year old son wakes up again and wants Mommy. I nurse him back to sleep, get up to pee again (pregnant bladder) and try to find a comfortable position to sleep where my huge belly is neither making me uncomfortable nor in danger of being kicked by a restless toddler.

What on earth were we thinking?

What the hell am I going to do when a newborn and a toddler both have nighttime needs?

Were we wrong to want another baby when our boy was still so much a baby himself?

Should we have listened to "mainstream" parenting advice and pushed him away, made him independent, toughened him up?

My intuition said no. My body and my mind had told me the timing was right for another child. We wanted our children to be close together in age too. It felt right when we decided to get pregnant. It felt right to be there for our son when he needed us. But it didn't always feel right on those nights or those days when even one child seemed like more than I could handle. When that one child seemed to need 100% of me and I didn't think there was anything more to give to a second one.

I'm not the only one that has felt that way. Others have been there before me and others have lived through it after me. That doesn't make it any less scary, any less difficult. So when a reader wrote to me, exhausted and concerned, and in this exact situation, I wasn't sure exactly what to tell her. Our child, our techniques, our decisions, our experience is just ours. It may help someone else, but it may not.

So I called in the army...a small army of my attachment parenting friends that I remember discussing these exact things with. I knew they had worried and I knew they had survived. Let me introduce them to you.

Jane otherwise known as @janefriar:
My daughter was almost 2 years old when I got pregnant. She was still nursing like a newborn and preferred breastmilk to solids most of the time. Although she has always been healthy and thriving, her lack of interest in solids would occasionally make me nervous, and when I was pregnant I wondered if she would wean (and start eating more solids) like I had heard many children do. She was an intense nurser, though, and in my heart I knew she wouldn’t wean, although I mentioned that she "probably would" to anyone who knew I still nursed her and asked ominously, “What on earth will you do when the baby comes - nurse them both?”

Naomi from Mama's Applecores:
Our spirited son was 23 months old when I got pregnant.  My excel spreadsheet titled “40wk” told me that he would me 32 months or 2.6 years old when the baby arrived.  Nine months is a significant amount of time in the life of a toddler, and we were sure that he would have grown up some by then. And he did.

robin from woowoo mama:
when i was about 32 weeks pregnant with chickpea i suddenly decided that having a second child was a very very bad idea.  the bean (then about 2) was still nursing a lot (although my milk had long since dried up), he still really wanted to cosleep with me, and he still would fall asleep for me and only me.  i felt that the bean was very dependant on me and i was concerned that this was a major problem.

when we had decided to go for the second child i imagined that by the time she was going to be born the bean was going to be slightly more independent then he really was.  i was up a lot at night worrying that the decision had been unfair to the bean, or that this whole idea of having a second child (which i was the driving force behind) was going to blow up in my face.  i had wanted him to be more flexible about who slept with him and comforted him day or night and he simply wasn’t.  in fact, as the spring turned to summer and our baby pea was getting closer and closer to being born the bean seemed to need me more and more.

Join me over the course of the next few posts as Jane, Naomi, robin and I share how we navigated nursing and co-sleeping as we prepared for and welcomed baby number two into our lives.

Keep reading:
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Reader Comments (27)

This is such a great idea! I can really relate to these because my own son was still nursing when I got pregnant with the last baby and he was so very attached. He would get very aggressive when I would try to unlatch him (I'm talking about when he was almost three!) Of course, now we know he has some issues, but we still had to face concern over how he would handle the new baby.

I can't wait to read the rest of these stories!

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I feel I could have written some of the comments! I completely understand - nursing until I was 3 mths preg. with number 2, co-sleeping while nauseous etc. But we knew it was time to expand our family, we were so excited, but it was pretty nerve wrecking.

As my belly grew, he got more upset with it at night time. He likes to throw a leg over me and it got harder for his leg to lay over my mountainous belly. It was kind of funny to watch in his half-asleep state frustratingly kicking his leg over and it would fall...

When she was born, we tried co-sleeping. She wasn't as thrilled with it, but what was worse was when the Boy would wake in the night to find her in MY arms. He was not happy. However, he has sinced accepted that night is for him and daddy to snuggle and they co-sleep together very well. But, I miss his little warm body...

I look forward to your future posts. This is obviously stirring up so many fresh memories for me, all positive but some bittersweet.

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Great post! My son was just under 2 years old when I was pregnant with our second. It was sort of planned, sort of 'wow, I'm pregnant?!' We were very happy, but at the same time, freaking out because taking care of 1 child was a hand full! Holding and carrying my first born got harder as the months went on. And after baby number 2 was born, so was the biggest amount of mommy guilt ever. I was madly in love, instantly, with my second son, just like my first. But that night, in the hospital, I was sad, too, because it was my first night away from my first born. And many days since that day have been emotional for me. I love putting both my boys to sleep at night, and some nights when they go to bed at the same time, it means that hubby has to put oldest son to bed and although they both love it, it makes me feel sad. I also find that having enough one on one time with each of them alone is hard. I'm trying to get them to play together more, now, so all 3 of us can do things together, like park visits, reading, (although 16 month old doesn't last too long with that!) etc.
As for the nights? Hubby and I play musical beds, as I like to call it. We pass eachother in the hallway all the time. I'm up, down, up down, up down, in baby's room, then I lie down beside my oldest son, then I bring baby into my bed, and hubby goes and sleeps with oldest son. I actually LOVE sleeping with my kids so I will not complain about that. It's usually like clockwork, at 1 a.m. baby will wake up and I'll just bring him to my bed. I love it! I'm glad they are so close in age, but man, it is tough most days!

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

I can't wait to read more! I'm still debating about wanting a second child. I blogged about that: http://dagmarbleasdale.com/2009/05/03/do-i-want-another-baby/

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDagmar Bleasdale

Oh man I remember that. I decided we would have #2 when our first was 2, but when he hit 2 I freaked out completely scared there was no way I could do it. Fortunately my body had other plans and I got pregnant while trying not to. LOL And then I went and did it a third time!

Can't wait to read this entire series!

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

yes! now that my babies are 11, 7 and 4 (!!!), i think warmly of those milky nights with legs tangled. we still tangle legs with the two younger, but no more nursing.

oh, i miss the intense yet simple needs of that time.

blessings to you!

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkristin

[...] This post was Twitted by woowoomama - Real-url.org [...]

I look forward to reading these! When I first got my period back at 5.5 months post partum, I had nightmares of weaning due to pregnancy (when babies are that young, they're more likely to wean than to nurse through preg.) Luckily (?) I didn't start ovulating until 7 months later. Now that we're thinking about it again, I'd love to read these because it's something I've been thinking about lately.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Having two kids is twice the fun!!! Okay I will admit, I was not nursing my 18 month old when our second child was born. But we were still getting up a lot at night... hence we did musical beds, too. And I think my husband really enjoyed being "the one" for my 18 month old. I saw him really embrace the nighttime parenting and co-sleeping and snuggling!! This is a great segment, though. I know the birth of the second child can be really scary for a lot of Moms so it's good to hear others' experiences.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlina

I'm really looking forward to this series! We're still cosleeping and nursing (a lot!) with my 18 month old, and we feel the cosleeping and night nursing are a barrier to pregnancy with another child (well, quite literally, for getting pregnant, but also just too much to take on). I feel like I need to feel I've survived the first stage with number 1 before moving on to number 2. But, I think it is to some extent an artificial line too. Our children will always need us, and we'll always respond as best we are able. I'm not sure I'm ready to trade my son for my pregnancy snoogle pillow just yet.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

I can relate to the toddler getting even more attached as the pregnancy progresses. We just had our #2 a week ago, and towards the end of my pregnancy my 2.5-year-old would hardly leave my side all day. Our part-time cosleeping turned into full-time. And I FREAKED out. But so far so good. Obviously, we're only a week into this two kid life....but I do believe AP parenting has SERIOUSLY helped smooth the road for us, and in my son's transition.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

I'm always pleased to read posts about balancing the needs of two children, but there was one part of your post I didn't like:

"Should we have listened to “mainstream” parenting advice and pushed him away, made him independent, toughened him up?"

You seem to be implying that the alternative to co-sleeping and night nursing into toddlerhood is to push babies away and try to toughen them up. That isn't so, and, although I know you didn't mean that to be offensive, I would like to point out that it comes across that way.

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah V.

@Sarah V. I think you are reading more into the comment than is there. There are lots of mainstream parenting articles, books and blogs that suggest that if you do co-sleep and nurse beyond a year, that you are spoiling your child and they will never develop their independence. I am criticizing those sources, not criticizing parents that choose not to co-sleep and tandem nurse. There are many different ways to be responsive to your children's needs. I recognize that. I just don't like "advice" that suggests you need to be unresponsive in order to allow your child to develop properly.

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Oh, I will be following these posts very closely! I am currently 37 weeks pregnant, still nursing three times a day and still co-sleeping. So these thoughts are very familiar to me. "How the heck am I going to pull this off" is often what I ask myself! Thank you for starting this series! I need all the support and encouragement as I can get at this point! :)

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRhyah

This is oh so timely for me. DD1 will be 2 next month and we just welcomed DD2 two & half weeks ago. DD1 is breastfeeding as often as the newborn and we're co-sleeping as well. It's such an interesting time in our lives. It's nice to read all these comments from women who have been there or are there now. Breastfeeding isn't so bad just tricky to figure out a comfy and safe position for both girls. Nighttime is a different story since DD2 is exceptionally gas-y. Patience is lesson we're trying to learn. I can't wait to follow this series!

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarla

What a timely subject! I'm currently 25 or so weeks pregnant, and my toddler is just over 2. I nurse her down to nap & sleep, and co-sleep, and night nurse. While I'm not in panic mode quite yet, I'm starting to wonder, "How the heck is THIS going to work???"

It's great to read these comments from moms who have done it / are doing it too! Overall, I have faith that it's all possible, though hard. My mantra through all the difficult times with #1 has always been, "This too shall pass . . ." But you can talk to me again in 6 months about this!

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

Please post sooner than later - my due date's fast approaching and I'm in (mostly quiet) panic mode.

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

I'm so thankful that you are posting this now! These thoughts are weighing on me right now. My first is 20 months and we are thinking about trying for #2. But I get so scared thinking of how I can handle the needs of 2!!! I can't wait to read more!

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

What a great post! I still remember lying in bed at maybe 38 weeks pregnant with #2 just bawling my eyes out wondering what in the world I was doing. It all hit me how much things would change for my first son and it was overwhelming to think that it could negatively affect him. My boys are now best friends and I wouldn't change that for anything.

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrenna

[...] This is the second post in a series on preparing for a second baby. If you haven’t read it already, check out the first part What on Earth Were We Thinking? [...]

Part 2 of the series is now up!
http://www.phdinparenting.com/2009/05/31/to-tandem-or-not-to-tandem-part-2-of-series-on-preparing-for-baby-2/" rel="nofollow">To tandem or not to tandem

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

My son was about 20 months old when I got pregnant with my daughter. He was still nursing a lot and I thought he would be one of the kids who nurse right through the pregnancy. He stopped being fun to sleep with about 18 months old (nighttime acrobatics/taekwondo) so I stopped nursing him to sleep. After that transition, I moved him into a crib next to our bed. 2 weeks before his second birthday, he dropped down to nursing only a few times a day for very short periods and not really drinking. Around 32 weeks pregnant, he stopped completely. After my daughter was born, he wanted to nurse again so I let him nurse before nap and bedtime. It was a very gentle process. If not for the pregnancy, he would probably nurse more, but he stopped on his own in response to the pregnancy. Now, we co-sleep with our daughter and he is still in the crib next to our bed. Sometimes he wants to sleep in our bed, but I just offer to "cuddle him" for a little bit and then put him back. He usually accepts that.

I'm interested to read about how parents handled those toddler who didn't self-wean.

June 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermamaseoul

This is a great post. I am not in the same boat as everyone here (yet) but my husband and I currently have a daughter, 6 months and I would like to get pregnant shortly after her first year birthday. We practice AP as well and even though we think we are nuts for wanting a second one right away, we are not the first ones to do it and having one year of mat leave after baby #2 will help with my sanity I think.
Looking forward to hearing all about your adventures in double duty parenting!

June 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

What a great topic! I am not pregnant yet (DS is 14 mo) and I want a 2nd less now than I did a year ago, though I still want at least one more!

June 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylva

[...] night weaned early in my pregnancy and during the day she rarely asked to nurse). I read this post over at Phd in Parenting, about the worries that accompany bringing another child into the family [...]

[...] To get started, you might check out PhD in Parenting’s own series on preparing for a second baby. [...]

I wanted to let you know that this series saved my sanity. I am 3 months pregnant and by some miracle my 19 month old has been sleeping (mostly) though the night. Reading the posts gave me a pep talk. I read them a few times ;)

Thank you so much for these posts and everything else you write.

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermamanaturale

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