The idea of “second-kid energy” (from today’s first story) really resonates with me. The confidence in yourself that can come with later-child parenting is unmatched. For me, one of the biggest changes was nursing in public. With my first, I had the usual complement of nursing covers and blankets and jackets. I never quite got comfortable with it. With the second, I threw all of that out and just fed that baby whenever, wherever. It was a small thing, but it totally changed my experience for the better.
My mom told me once that the best parenting advice she got was from an old friend who told her that he would give her the “third-child advice” for her first kid. I definitely could have used that the first time around.
Today we have three of your stories, and a question about how to handle a baby who only wants to sleep on a person during the day.
I really struggled to breastfeed my first baby and had trouble getting help because he was born during early COVID. I ended up pumping exclusively for four months and feeling miserable, between being tethered to that machine and having supply issues, and only felt like myself again when we moved to formula, which took a while for me to accept as I was being barraged with “breast is best” messaging on the internet.
I went into baby #2 with a completely open mind, and after nursing her in the hospital a few times, I knew it wasn’t for me. There were a few uncomfortable weeks of discouraging my milk and I’m still sleep-deprived, but going straight to formula for her has been a game changer. I’m able to enjoy feeding her and not resenting it, my husband can really be an equal partner in it, and my mental health is so much better than it was at this point last time. I’m able to be there for both my baby and my toddler, but the best part is, this time I have absolutely zero guilt about formula. I’m proud of myself for shutting out the noise and making the right decision for me and my family.
Exhausted and Depressed
We have a 2- and a 4-year-old, and we’ve been in a really, really rough spot with sleep. They have alternated having terrible sleep for a couple months for a variety of reasons (nonstop illness being a major factor). The last three weeks have been the worst. My husband and I are just barely functioning. Our relationship and self-care is suffering, we’re still going to work because we have to, but we are both just completely depressed and drained from the lack of sleep.
There is no room in our lives for doing anything other than the bare minimum to get by right now. It feels like it shouldn’t be this hard at these ages, that there should be more (any) fun, joy, and a small amount of time for ourselves. Our toddler/preschool parent friends are not struggling like we are. I get resentful of my parent friends who have grandparents who help and support them. I feel like a failure, like we are doing something wrong, on top of the complete exhaustion. I know logically it will get better, but it’s really, really hard right now.
My win is a deeper connection with my 32-year-old daughter as she manages her first pregnancy — daily conversations, trying to be a good listener, trying not to problem-solve. We’re so far geographically, but I feel closer than ever.