You’ve done it already so a new baby is easy, right? Well, not quite.
The first time a baby vomits a bottle-load of milk over you in public, it’s a bit of a shock. It can really derail a much-needed pub session with friends, as you desperately try to contain the explosion of spew. The second time it happens, you shrug your shoulders and ask a mate to grab a few serviettes with the next round, then mop up the mess without a fuss.
When you learn to change nappies on a newborn, it feels like a delicate operation that calls for a medical gown, surgical mask and latex gloves. A month on, it’s as straightforward as wiping down a bench – a very smelly bench.
Adjusting to the reality of caring for a living, breathing bub, with all its messy bodily functions, happens sooner than you’d expect. It doesn’t mean you enjoy everything about it, but you get on with it.
And it means that if baby number two arrives, you hit the ground running. Knowing that sleepless nights are coming – and that they’ll end – makes them much easier to handle.
Realising that every sniffle isn’t pneumonia, every rash isn’t rubella, means you can relax more, as you watch your kid discover the world around them.
Your second baby doesn’t cost us as much, either. Not that you put a price on these things (though I totally do).
Our second-hand bassinet was in the garage and ready to go, rejected baby toys are getting called up out of retirement, and our new daughter is decked out in our son’s old clothes.
If people think we’re bravely breaking gender stereotypes, rather than saving a few bucks, I’ll take the credit.
I think being more relaxed the second time round rubs off on the baby, too. Our daughter is as laid-back as the Dalai Lama sipping daiquiris at a poolside bar.
When she’s hungry during the night, she gurgles and coos. The first would wake up screaming for food at 4am, rattling the bassinet like an angry drunk shaking the shutters of a closed kebab shop.
So yeah, you might find your second child easier to handle. But life? That’s about to get a whole lot more hectic.
“‘I want someone to care for me,’ he said at one stage – a line that felt manipulative, melodramatic and heartbreaking at the same time.”
I’m writing this after midnight because there isn’t a single minute of solitude during the day. It’s as if the kids have plotted a tag-team attack, to make sure we never have a break.
Even worse, when his little sister arrived, our three-year-old boy turned into a full-blown arsehole. He didn’t have a problem with the baby, but he sure as hell wasn’t happy with us.
He chucked more tantrums in the first couple of months of the baby’s arrival than he had through the so-called terrible twos. “I want someone to care for me,” he said at one stage – a line that felt manipulative, melodramatic and heartbreaking at the same time.
He had never been a needy kid, but now he was calling for “Mummy” to join him when he was playing trains, going to bed, or going to the toilet. It was a pretty good result for me, to be honest.
It’s understandable the kid felt a little jealous. My old man says a similar thing happened when I was born, the second son after a run of girls.
Was my big brother happy to have a partner in crime? No, he burst into tears.
He’s come round now (my son, that is) but even though he’s back on track, there’s one inescapable fact – the new baby means an extra three years until freedom.
Every tedious test we passed, from introducing solids and toilet training, to teaching the kid to pull his undies up his legs instead of over his head, has to be tackled all over again. I feel like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III: “As soon as I thought I was out, they drag me back in.”
The reassuring thing is, we know through experience that the hectic time will pass. Before you can say, “Lachy, you’ve gotta leave The Wiggles,” our daughter will be watching Octonauts and asking if a whale shark is a shark or a whale (it’s a shark, I’ve seen the episode).
Already, four months in, there are mad moments when we talk about having a third kid. We’ve managed two, we think, how hard could one more be?
Which is why I should probably head straight to the medical centre, talk to a GP, and ask, “How much does it cost for a vasectomy?”
READ MORE FROM CHRIS RYAN:
- How I lifted my game to be a better influence on my kids
- How I found myself hostage to a toddler and his turds
- Second sentence: The 5 ways our firstborn prepared me to go again