7 Things Parents Worry About When Having Another Baby

As a mom of one, I think about what it’ll be like the day our family expands. Along with those thoughts, come plenty of positives, like my son will have a sibling and hopefully his first friend. But, it isn’t all heart emojis and rainbows. Sometimes those thoughts are fears about whether or not my family is capable of adjusting to the demands of having two children.

I began asking those around me how they felt when their family was considering expanding. I was comforted knowing that my fears were not only shared by other parents, but also very normal. Mothers and fathers everywhere wonder what it’s going to be like becoming a parent of more than one and a lot of times those wonders can be scary.

Here are a few of the most common thoughts and fears attached to adding to the family:

1. Do I have enough love?

I love the hell out of my son. But I’m not a naturally affectionate person. When my son was born, I was worried I wouldn’t ever connect with him emotionally. Now that my life literally revolves around him, I can’t imagine having room to love another.

I’ve been told that love multiplies instead of divides with each child but that doesn’t stop me from being nervous.

2. Can I manage it?

Being a mom of one is already exhausting. That can make it challenging to image life with two or more.

“Two biggest fears about having another, honestly, were safety and whether or not we were gonna screw up the second one because the first had such problems. My oldest son’s issues are so extreme and so were his behaviors that I was worried if we could keep everyone, including a new baby, safe. And then add the worry that his issues were so big and overwhelming that we feared we wouldn’t be able to meet the needs of our second,” says Noelle, mom of two.

3. Does this mean the end of my dreams?

When Alex found out her second pregnancy resulted in twins, there was a lot to consider. She went from being the mother of a seven-year-old who was mostly self-sufficient to caring for two newborns. Naturally, she wondered what ways such a huge change to her family would impact her education and career goals.

“What would happen to my education and career because both are on pause at the moment,” she said. “How would I be able to go to school and manage multiples? I’m still trying to figure out the formula to this day.”

4. Can we afford it?

Money is probably the number one concern parents report at the possibility of starting a family. Does that concern stay around or intensify with each child? I have no idea. But it sure wouldn’t surprise me. Money isn’t the only thing parents wonder if they have enough of. The smallest thought of a new baby makes me wonder how I could budget my time well enough for two children.

“My biggest concern was: would we be able to afford it/manage it? Especially because we had already decided that I wouldn’t work for the first year,” said Alex.

5. Will my first child miss out?

Stacy found out she was pregnant with her second child before her son was a year old. Like many parents of kids very close in age, it can be challenging to figure out the best way to deal with two toddlers. You might find yourself wondering if you did your first child a disservice by having another child so soon.

“I was pretty worried about whether or not I was not giving my eldest the attention he needed,” said the mom of two. “Truthfully, even now there are times I still feel like he missed out on getting to be babied since I had to focus on my daughter as a newborn. It didn’t make it any easier that my husband was deployed and wouldn’t return until our daughter was two months old. I really didn’t know if I could handle two babies alone for that long.”

6. Will they get along? 

It’s also really common for a new baby to make you question compatibility. With so much discussion around sibling rivalry, it’s not surprising that many folks wonder if the children will get along.

Sure, nine times out of ten, my son is not the one picking fights on the playground. But being around older kids, he says the phrase “mine” from time to time. Would those behaviors come out in his relationship with a sibling? I don’t know.

7. What will everyone else think?

There is a ton of scrutiny around women’s reproductive choices. It’s also normal to wonder if your community will judge you for getting pregnant again — particularly if you are a young parent or were pregnant not that long ago. But ultimately, it’s not about them, it’s about you and your family.

A new baby brings new dynamics no matter how many children you’ve had. And when you find yourself up at night worrying about adding another child to the chaos that is parenting, just remind yourself that things may not be easy, but they will usually work themselves out in the end.

Parenting Is Always Hard. So Stop Comparing Baby Years To Teen Years.

I find it hilarious when parents of older children tell me I’m in the easy stages.

I can’t remember a time parenthood was easy. I can think of phases when things were different, but I don’t think it was ever simple. Even pregnancy can be rough. In the beginning, you’re exhausted and maybe sick, in the middle you feel better but start to waddle, and in the end, you feel like your own planet.

Thankfully, none of that is in vain. After waiting months to see your child’s beautiful little face, you feel like things will always be this perfect. Except they won’t.

Bringing a newborn home is the just the beginning of an 18 year or longer series of curve balls. So why do so many parents downplay the struggles of the early days? Do they really think their comments are helpful? Parenting is a series of ever-changing challenges and it makes zero sense to rank them. It’s especially important that we don’t overromanticize the difficulty of the early days. Here’s why.

That first moment of love is a trick.

For some, birth starts with perfection. From the moment their eyes see their child’s face, it’s love at first sight. It becomes impossible to refrain from basking in their baby’s beauty and visions of the future are filled with images of puppies and rainbows.

Or maybe things went directly from pregnancy pains to the blood-curdling screams of sleep regression. Everything hurts and you exist in a body that feels foreign. And don’t get me started on the breastfeeding challenges and the toll it can take on your relationship. During this time, it takes everything in your power not to strangle the person who convinced you to take this leap, including the friends who egged you on.

The image of perfection fades fast though. Where’d the perfect child who stole your heart go? The answer: it was all an elaborate scheme. Evolution put bonding chemicals in our brains that having us teetering between the sweet intoxication of a new baby and the dread of new motherhood. 

You’re surrounded by opinions, but none of them are helpful.

I’ve been there — delusionally exhausted and ridiculously overwhelmed. During that time, I got some of the world worst advice. My least favorite two were: “Sleep when the baby sleeps” and “Enjoy this time, it’s as easy as it ever gets.” What better way to extend a huge fuck you to a struggling new mom than to tell her to sleep when the baby sleeps. Hello! Sleep regression means they hardly sleep. 

Inconsiderate comments set new parents up for self-doubt and feelings of failure.

I was told children get progressively more difficult with age. That basically meant if I was struggling on level one, I’d never survive the subsequent stages. Well-meaning comments of parenting stages can still be harmful.

Those comments terrified me and made me wonder if his issues were a reflection of me. Neither my son or I was getting enough sleep, and it made me wonder if he was getting enough of anything. Was he getting enough milk? Did he not sleep because I was forgetting to do something? Was his mom good enough?

Nothing stays the same.

From two weeks forward, my son didn’t sleep. He survived off quick naps to maintain the strength to keep his parents (read: his mom) awake all night. Around three months old, things changed but weren’t any easier. He’d sleep, but only while nursing through the entire night — no boob, no deal. After that stage, he would only sleep to the sound of running water. No, not a YouTube white noise clip like most babies. It had to be live action shower water. That changed with time, too.  

A new baby is a lot to process. As a new parent, you’re getting to know a person for the first time. You quickly learn that it doesn’t matter what anyone else was like, even their siblings. It’s okay to feel that process is challenging. And it’s totally unfair to tell a new parent that this is the “easy part.” 

The adjustment period might not be as difficult for some parents as it is others. But it doesn’t mean it’s universally easy. New parents need support and words of comfort, not criticisms that lead to self-doubt. Please stop telling baby parents that they have it easy. Parenthood is always equal parts beautiful and disaster.

Mama Law, It’s REAL

Here’s one solid truth about being a mama: No matter how you envision your life with children, crazy unpredictable things will happen, and most things never go as planned. It’s called “Mama Law” and you’ll have to get used to it if you want to keep your sanity.

For example, the most vomit your kid will ever produce will only happen in her bed at 2 AM, the school hallway, or at church. It will only happen in your car, where you might actually try to “catch” it in your hands. Vomit won’t happen when your kid is relatively close to a bucket or a toilet. Same goes for an “accident” of volcanic proportions in her pants. That little gem of an experience will only occur when you are on a boat, or at the grocery store.

 

mama law motherhood

 

“The call” from school will come in when you are in the middle of your very first and only “spa day.”  Your head will be in foils, and your nails will be wet. You’ll finally be using that spa gift card (the expired one) your husband gave you two years ago, but you’ll need to leave early. Make no mistake, the call from the school will not come in when you are in the middle of getting your long overdue root canal.

Your son Joey’s friend, the one who has a “cool mom” who doesn’t contribute to the snack schedule or come to his games, will be the best and most popular player on the team. Side note: your son will score his only goal of the season at the only game of the season you can’t attend. 

Mama Law states that you will, at some point, spend a few hours of your time baking homemade cupcakes with frosting and candy decorations made from scratch, only to watch at least 3 kids in your daughter’s class lick the tops, examine them further with crinkled noses, and exclaim that they are gross. In front of you, they will smash them into napkins and throw them away. They might even spit out the mushy contents into the trash bin for dramatic effect. Your daughter’s friend, whose mom sent in 2 boxes of Donut holes, will be hoisted atop her class mate’s shoulders, amid squeals of excitement.

Here’s one that’s fairly embarrassing to talk about: You will finally get your period 6 or 7 months after giving birth, but it will be during the train ride you’re taking to visit your mother in the city. You will not have a pad or a tampon handy, and you will be alone holding your baby and a giant, heavy bag of supplies on your lap. So you will use a diaper. Mama Law states that you will, at some point, stuff a diaper down your pants on a train.

No sooner will you get done judging and shaking your head with a “tisk-tisk” at another mom for something shitty her kid did at school, when your little cherub does something equally or even more heinous, thus landing you front row, center in that special venue most of us visit at some point. I’ll call it the “Mom Shame Karma Club” and you will become a member whether you want to be or not. 

 

mama law

 

There are two Mama Laws that never change from one generation to the next: Your first grader will lose his front tooth (or both!) the night before school photos, and it will take you five whole years to read one whole book. Any book.

Here’s one to ponder: The more you talk about how much you hate tattoos and piercings, the more your teenage child will want one or the other, or both. But if YOU get a tattoo, your child might not think it’s cool anymore. This works in much the same way a Facebook account works. Once you have one, they no longer want it. 

You’ll be on time for pick up 99.9% of the time, but the one time you are late (or you forget to get them all together) will be the only time they ever talk about. And they will bring it up at Christmas 20 years later, after you have lovingly placed a steaming lasagna with fresh mozzarella and homemade gravy down on the table in front of their fat, little faces. They never forget.

The creme de la creme of Mama Law? You will inevitably say something your mother always said. It will fly out of your mouth during an argument with your kids, and you won’t be able to stop it. You’ll go wide-eyed in disbelief and disgust at your words before realizing how very true they are, thus crossing that bridge to the side of life where you must begrudgingly admit that your mother was right all along. When this happens, and it indeed will, you may require a quiet moment alone, because your mother will of course be present when those words fly out of your mouth. And she will smile her quiet little smile of triumph, and you will see her smile and steam will come out of your ears.  

motherhood mishaps funny

 

And lastly, here’s a Mama Law that never fails to surface at some point during the wondrous journey through child rearing: It only snows when you do not have milk, or hot chocolate, or food of any kind in the house, except for some old-ass eggs, and a few stale granola bars. 

Our Mama ancestors actually wrote all these down in a book many moons ago. Don’t shoot the messenger. 

 

kimberly-valzania-bio-pictureKimberly Valzania practices mindful gratefulness. She is creatively driven to write about and share her personal experience and opinions on weight loss, fitness, life changes, adventures in parenting, day-to-day triumphs (and failures), and the truth-seeking struggle of simply being human. As words tumble out, they are sorted into cohesive piles and delivered via poetry and short essays. Her articles are featured on Scary Mommy, Rebelle Society, The Elephant Journal, BonBon Break, The Minds Journal, The Manifest-Station, and Imperfect Parent.  Read more at her website eatpraypost.com.

 

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Parenting ADHD: 6 Things I Wish I Had Known

My oldest has ADHD.  We hit eight years old and man did I need help parenting a child with ADHD.  I reached out to other moms but all shared a resounding “I’m just trying to survive” mentality. Parenting ADHD is difficult. Four years later, here are six things (from one struggling mom to another) that I wish I had known when parenting a child with ADHD.

Parenting ADHD Success

1. ENGAGE WITH THE SCHOOL

My hubby and I did not communicate with the school too much about our son and his ADHD. Conversations started to become more frequent than one would like in 2nd grade and by the time he was officially diagnosed in 3rd grade, we didn’t want to give teachers a pre-set idea of who/what he was. Bad idea. Before I knew better, I shared my concern about telling them he was ADHD with my close friend; their reply was, “Either they have the stigma of ADHD, or the stigma of the bad kid.”  Ugh! They were right.  

I became forced myself to be brave. I started the conversation with my son’s educators right from the start, sharing behaviors I knew would be distracting, my expectations of him in the classroom and concerns about his education and abilities.  You would be surprised what lines of communications this opens; and with parenting ADHD, communication is vital. This quickly places you and the educators on the same page and teaches them that you are open and an ally.  If this doesn’t happen — find a new teacher! Educators will make or break your child’s success in school.

2. SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOUR CHILD TO OTHERS

As we sat in our teacher’s meeting with two teachers, two counselors, one special education teacher, the hubs and me — totally not overwhelming, right? [Super Huge Eyeroll] I listened to an obviously frustrated teacher tell me all the things my son was doing that he shouldn’t be doing. Umm…yeah…I know. I get it. No, really. I super get this.  Uh-huh…yeah…right…yes, he does that…and that…and that…STOP TALKING! It was new to her and it is frustrating. However, she just kept rehashing everything he did wrong, repeatedly. We tried to give them some insight into our son but I could tell the frustrations were too raw. It’s important to realize that parenting ADHD includes including others in the process. 

By the next meeting my husband and I consciously chose to make sure the team we were meeting with knew all the amazing cool things about my son. He is a whiz in science, he loves helping people, he is hilarious, he is amusingly sarcastic, and so much more! We watched their conversations about our real-life-son, not just the frustrating student, change before our eyes. This frustrated teacher started complimenting my son at school on his science scores and laughing with him.  Don’t forget: they see hundreds of kids a day. Chances are your ADHD child is getting under their skin. Change their mindset from obnoxious pupil to a real human-child that has feelings and is amazing.  Make. Them. See.

Parenting ADHD Help

 

SEE MORE:  4 Ways to Measure Kids’ Success That Have NOTHING To Do With Grades

 

3. EMOTIONS RUN DEEP

ADHD kids feel. They feel emotion deep in their soul and sometimes you would never know.  Understood.org says, “Kids with ADHD don’t have different emotions from most of their peers. They feel hurt, anger, sadness, discouragement, laziness and worry just like everyone else does. What is different for many kids with ADHD is that these feelings seem to be more frequent and intense. They also seem to last longer. And they get in the way of everyday life.”

Take the time to ask your child about their feelings, with open-ended questions. Pay attention to their body language and demeanor. Once their emotions overflow, sometimes it is hard to have a logical conversation with them. Have patience and understanding; acknowledge their feelings and try to redirect the negative emotions when possible. Parenting ADHD is about listening and engaging with your child.

4. SHAMING: DON’T DO IT

Most of us in the trenches of ADHD never intend to shame our child. We are overwhelmed and frustrated; our tongues drip a little looser than we’d like.  Shaming can be as innocent as saying, “Your 5-year-old little brother has his shoes on, why on earth don’t you?”. This makes them feel less than and you are essentially comparing their behaviors. Comparison brings nothing but hurt feelings and resentment.

We also had to engage a strict hand with the non-ADHD siblings. We started noticing them saying things like, “You’re being so crazy!! Go take your pill!”. This will not fly in our house and we put our foot down hard when we hear it. Shaming is never a useful tool in parenting, but when it involves a child with ADHD, it can make a child already prone to depression and anxiety feel more shamed and inadequate. Parenting ADHD is about awareness of everyone involved: parent, child and siblings.

5. LYING WILL HAPPEN

It is going to happen…a lot. You cannot realistically punish them every single time they lie (yes, it happens that much). Prepare yourself for this quirk and decide how it will be handled.  If the lie is significant (depending on any number of factors) a consequence follows. However, if it is a little thing here or there, we express our disappointment that they lied and it is not acceptable and move on. We finally hit a stride where a lie comes out and is quickly followed up with the truth and an apology. It’s only taken 4+ years of pulling my hair out. [insert more patience here]

 

SEE MORE:  How It Really Feels Being The Mom Of A Bullied Kid

 

Parenting ADHD Advice

6. GIVE THEM OPPORTUNITIES TO SUCCEED

This is huge!! ADHD kids are insanely intelligent, smart, creative, funny, loveable and the list goes on. Sometimes their impulses get the better of them. If you think you’re frustrated, just imagine being them. Take EVERY SINGLE CHANCE to point out their successes and moments that make you proud. Did they hang their backpack up right after school? Make sure you say “Hey…thanks for getting your backpack put away. That was super helpful.” The small thank-you will do wonders for their self-esteem and remind you how fantastic your child is. Know they are a great pancake chef? Ask them to make the family breakfast! School and life are hard. They have a lot more hurdles than the average child; give them a chance to do things right and be rewarded.

Parenting ADHD comes with extra trials, but we learn so much if we take the time to understand our ADHD child and how to help them be successful. These six things are the first items I think of when people ask me about parenting ADHD. I wish I would have known these from the start, but I’m learning and still making mistakes too. Hopefully my mistakes can give you a leg up when parenting your child with ADHD. They’re some of the raddest people I know.


Looking for additional resources? A few of my favorite ADHD websites are:

http://www.additudemag.com

http://www.understood.org

https://add.org/

Parenting ADHD with Love

 

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