What people don’t tell you before you have baby number #2. This week’s guest post is written by Angelique Ruzicka, from www.mombabbles.com. Angelique is a married mom of 2; all the way from Cape Town, South Africa.

The Second Child Syndrome

I thought that having one child qualified me to have another with ease, and to handle the 3 am feeds like a ninja teaching a six-year-old entry-level kata moves. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t consider myself a ‘sensei’ of motherhood; but I figured it wouldn’t be as tough as it was the first time, and that having some experience would count in my favour.

Also, when you announce that you’re having a second one, most people tend to cheer you on by making you believe that having another is a simple “copy and paste” exercise. The sad thing is that I believed them!

You’ll convince yourself that you can handle the 3am feeds, the incessant crying and being covered in regurgitated milk. But I have to admit that by the third or fourth week I was a ‘mombie’ – a zombie mom. The living dead. So exhausted, all I could do was muster a moan or a groan and shuffle around.

You won’t remember as much as you think you will. You’re often left thinking: Did the first one scream as much? Did the first one poop as much? How much Nurofen am I supposed to give? You Google: Will lack of sleep kill me? I’ll save you asking Siri by pasting the first result to the search here: “It’s possible that given enough time, sleep deprivation can kill you. While no human being is known to have died from staying awake, animal research strongly suggests it could happen.” Confused? So was I…

And while you’re tired and exhausted, another downside is that you’ll have fewer people offering to do the babysitting. I get it though. It’s easy looking after one, while two or more can be akin to controlling a bunch of angry electric eels in a bag.

The good news is that it does get better. And the second time around you know that the light is just at the end of the tunnel. The first time you don’t believe you’ll ever see the light again, but now that you’ve been in the trenches before, so to speak, you know it’s there…and it’s just a matter of time.

Soon they’re crawling, walking, talking and looking forward to going to school.

The eldest then plays with the youngest and vice versa. It’s cute, funny and often times hair-raising. And with all this play and banter most of the guilty feelings of not being able to award both of them the same kind of attention melts away.

For me, the worst part was really getting used to the initial sleepless nights. It’s a killer because I’d got so used to sleeping uninterrupted. Our eldest slept through the night from month four and we’d had two blissful years of good sleep until we decided to start all over again.

You’ll get through it and soon the mombie phase will be a distant memory. This morning I looked at my Fitbit stats and I’d slept for a glorious eight hours and fifty-eight minutes before the children woke up! Ah, bliss!

For those of you who are currently at your wit’s end, pacing the corridors at night and shedding as many tears as the baby, perhaps you’ll take comfort from something I read last year on a parental advice website, the Sister Lilian Centre. “The best thing to do when you’re in the middle of a sleepless stage is to make peace with it and just do the best you can. Often the long nights are made worse by fighting it, leading to feelings of despair and loneliness – but you are not alone!”

So if people tell you it’s easier with the second one – ignore them, because it’s not always true. If you’re currently suffering in the early days of motherhood perhaps you can take comfort from the fact that there are other mothers doing the exact same thing as you. But if that’s not enough I have one final tip: Eat chocolate – lots of chocolate! The highlight of my 3 am wake up call was engulfing the Top Deck slab I’d put on the compactum earlier in the evening.

Be good to yourself and be kind. Oh, and you’re only a ninja mom once you’ve mastered the art of creeping out the nursery at 3 am, without waking the baby… and remembering where the creaky floorboards are!

Best – Angelique

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