Anyone had a toddler and newborn and it not been hell?!

(53 Posts)

Ds is 17 months old and we are debating having a second child. It's more of an 'if' then a 'when' as we are really happy with Ds though he is rather challenging. We are struggling to see how we would cope with a second child. I must have read umpteen posts on mumsnet where posters are seriously not coping due to the stress of having a second child and balancing the needs of a toddler and newborn.

Has anyone had a second baby and it not been a real struggle? I would particularly appreciate any comments from anyone who FF their baby,as for various reasons any second dc would be FF. I say this as a major theme of previous threads seems to be having to sit for hours BFing the baby whilst the toddler screams for attention. So just wondering if FF would be easier?
TIA

2mommy14 Mon 24-Mar-14 12:46:21

I have a 2 year gap and I had read so many horror stories of parents not being able to cope and not leaving their house for the first 6 weeks, naturally this is what I was expecting. I couldn't have been more wrong, my 2 year old has been a different child since the baby has arrived, he's calmed down, he loves his brother and we have had no jealousy or tantrums over the new baby. I wanted a small age gap as I want them to be close like me and my sister have always been and I have been pleasantly surprised. You won't parent no 2 in the same way as no 1 because won't have the time and you learn from your first. You also won't spend as much money on baby items you will never use. I'm much more organised with the 2 of them than I was with just my first.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 24-Mar-14 12:02:09

Lovely post New.

It is lovely having two. Apart from when they are having one of their little phases, my two get on so well. They often bring a tear to my eye, e.g. watching them play make a tent out of a sheet and putting the teddies in or riding their bikes round the kitchen on one of their "adventures". My eldest (4) is so sweet to the youngest (2) and my youngest is so adoring of the eldest.

This weekend I've been ill. I noticed my eldest stepped into mum role and was mothering my little one. So lovely.

That said we are in a good period at the mo. Round 5 of the sibling rivalry wars can't be far off ....

TheNewShmoo Mon 24-Mar-14 11:50:16

So heart warming reading all these posts... 28 month gap and I'd honestly thought I'd made a huge mistake as the first 3 months were SO tough. But as other MNetters kept reminding me, it passes so quickly. DC2 is now 4 months and DC1 won't go anywhere without him. She sits by him and sings to him, and he always looks around for her. They are so attached to each other; it's beautiful. DC2 has brought out elements in DC1's nature that I hadn't seen before, so its def brought another dimension to our experience of parenthood. It was already fulfilling, but now there's a completeness to it. I'm so happy that they have each other.

I EBF and find it the easiest option. Plan to let DC2 self wean. Might get flamed for this but I don't think sibling jealousy is a reason to take away a baby's chance to breastfeed.

15 months between my dd's. Tiring and busy but a very happy time. Id do it exactly again in a heartbeat smile

Stubbed Sat 22-Mar-14 15:06:22

It's really not been hell for me. 20 month gap so had 2 under 2, both in washable nappies full time, and the baby with reflux too so we had no sleep. Breastfeeding full time. Moved house 2 weeks before dc2 was born, had an infection in my c section scar and was readmitted etc. dc2 is higher maintenance but I really don't think, even with all that, that it was difficult. Just hard work.
Mind you, my toddler doesn't have tantrums (yet).

lanbro Sat 22-Mar-14 07:52:49

18 months between my two and although it's tiring it has not been hell, far from it! Harder being pregnant with a toddler to be honest.

My intention was to express lots to get dd2 to take a bottle to make life easier but never happened! She's been ebf for 6 months now we're starting blw with huge success. Everything seems easier second time around.

It has been a help that they are both excellent sleepers which obviously isn't something you can predict! Dd2 watches dd1 like a hawk, it will be lovely when they can actually play, and fight I guess, together.

There is no right or wrong age difference but ours has worked for us so far!

Bumblebzz Sat 22-Mar-14 07:42:14

Opps! reposting as that last one got corrupt
Hi OP

Our gap will be 5.5 years, if all goes well (28 weeks pg), not through planning but we struggled to get pregnant second time around and then had a miscarriage at 11 weeks over a year ago. While this age gap wouldn't have been my coice if I'd had a choice, there are some major positives which I do now appreciate.
- dd1 is at school, 9-3pm every day 36 weeks or so of the year. I am hoping to sleep when the baby sleeps during those hours!
- dd1 is not at all anxious or jealous, just very very excited Due to the age gap they will probably not fight so much over toys etc as they will be interested in diff things.
- I have been back at work for over 4 years, career back on track (sort of), working full time now after many years flexible/part time I.e. 3 then 4 days weeks. This means my maternity leave pay is based on a full salary, but more importantly I am experienced and confident about managing work/family balance and will have no qualms about requesting flex working when I go back. I also now know (wasn't sure with dd1) that I definitely do want to go back to work and stay working, it helps that I know I can do it.

The obvious downsides of the large age gap can be deduced from others' positive comments, we won't see our two play together as much. However when I look at my siblings and those if my close friends, it's interesting that none of us are closest to our nearest sibling in age, so you never really know how things turn out, and the age gaps matter less once the children get older.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.
And I agree with a PP, if you are genuinely happy and "complete" with one don't feel pressurised. I also wanted more than one but due to our circumstances I had come to terms with having one child (even gave away most of our baby things and ALL my maternity wear!) and there are lots of positives with a family unit of three as well!

X

Bumblebzz Sat 22-Mar-14 07:38:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JodeyP Sat 22-Mar-14 07:11:10

I think every child has their 'moments' but my experience has been wonderful so far. My DS1 had terrible colic (14 weeks) and reflux (6months). Once the colic had gone, I really started to enjoy being a mom. The first 14 weeks were hellish! But as far as babies/toddlers go, he has been brilliant. He's a great sleeper (he's 3.5 now), loves his food, he was able to have a conversation from 18m so communication and language skills are great, and he is a joy to be with.

I think language skills helped him to communicate what he wanted and therefore prevented many meltdowns but I totally agree that it is luck if the draw. I'm now 31 weeks pregnant with DC2 and am expecting a big change in the household dynamics as no two children are the same and the more children you have, I'm sure the more challenging parenting becomes.

In a lot of ways it's easier tbh. It's the sleep deprivation I think again. You do forget that a bit. Can't say it's been hell but some days have been challenging. Overall it was bloody easier than first time tho!

I ain't doing 3 kids tho. Cured me of large families!

2 year gap here, as have most of my friends and it was fine, there were bad days but I learnt to cope and it was great having a second maternity leave when DS was only 2, no regrets at all.

Odaat Sat 22-Mar-14 07:00:21

It is a brill post, any other positive experiences out there!?

Milkymickey Sat 22-Mar-14 04:59:40

Brilliant post bumps. I think you nail it.

My second is now five months, and i dont regret it but have tough days. Dc2 still up in the night up to six times, naps brilliantly in cot but rubbish in buggy.

Basically,if I am tired I have a short fuse, and cant think how to get us from thre year old crossness to smiles. If I get a better run of nights - say averaging six hours with one three hour sleep in the mix - life improves hugely.

Dc1 slept through early. Dc2 is a shock. i have done aa the gentle sleep training I can and feel confident we just have a bit of badluck here.

I notice most of the posters above describe their second as easy. I think good luck is key here, though of course we all do our best with what we are dealt.
I still dont regret it though, this is just the hardest work maternity leave! I am confident it will get better.

Bumpsadaisie Thu 20-Mar-14 17:39:53

I had 2 yrs 4 mths between mine.

Really it wasn't hell at all. I had a tough pregnancy so actually when my second was here it felt like liberation. I was thinking about this today actually. There is so much variation and how it goes can depend a lot on the kind of toddler you have and the kind of baby you have.

For me the things that made it fine (if busy) were as follows:

- the birth of my second was fine - had a third degree tear but actually this was repaired expertly and gave me less trouble than the episiotomy I'd had with my eldest.

- my eldest (DD) had her challenging moments but at the end of the day was an easy toddler. Cautious, gentle, didn't have tantrums as she talked early, and generally was quite reasonable with (as toddlers go). She was quite independent so if we went round to play with a friend or to a soft play she would happily trot off to play for a bit. Apart from sometimes getting grumpy when I was feeding she enjoyed having the baby around, not least because:

- youngest (DS) was an easy baby. He fed every three or four hours, for 15 mins a time. He was BF and grew just as expected so no worries there. Once fed he was quite happy to lie in his basket or sit in his bouncy chair and gurgle. He woke a couple of times in the night but quick feed then straight back off.

- because DS was easy he didn't intrude too much on DDs life, so in turn she liked him and wasn't jealous. It was a kind of virtuous circle.

Contrast that with the reverse scenario where you have a non-talking, tantrum prone, accident prone, reckless toddler who is also quite clingy and won't run off and play by themselves for a bit, who alone could take up 150% of your available time. Then add into the mix, say, a "difficult" baby who won't be put down, who wants to feed for hours, who perhaps has colic or reflux, who won't sleep in the car or pram so you can't get out with the toddler etc etc and who generally occupies all your energies so that your toddler gets furious. You then have a v cross toddler who feels pushed out and jealous, might hit the baby, you can't ever leave them alone together, and the whole thing is blooming hard work! (I have a friend who had this scenario).

So a lot comes down to the luck of the draw grin.

FWIW we found it harder with our two once my youngest reached new milestones and was able to impose himself more. We have had several phases of a couple of weeks where they have not got on brilliantly as they adjust to the new state of affairs. Then things seem to settle down and they get on really well again. At the moment we have just come out of a phase where my youngest was whacking the eldest over the head. He's got the message about not doing that now and they are lovely together again.

Good luck x

ThefutureMrsTatum Thu 20-Mar-14 17:14:13

I had a 19 month gap between the first two. It was fine.DD was very demanding, so when I had DS I was dreading it initially. But, 6 years on and it's the best thing I did having them close together. They have got on well from day one, DS was such a chilled out baby, he was FF, just used to pick him up feed him and put him back down, he'd get himself off to sleep and was never any bother. When he got to sittng up and playing age DD just took over the entertaining all day, they would just sit and play together. It really was never any more difficult than having one. I remember only nearly cracking once, I sat on the floor in the kitchen and necked a glass of wine, it was because DD wouldn't eat her dinner and DS had thrown his on the floor!

Thank you so much for all the positive stories. its a really good point that people will tend to post when they are stressed out for advice rather than saying how wonderful life is! True as well that siblings would entertain each other when older. I think we are definitely considering it more seriously, but with a larger age gap. Thanks everyone.

Odaat Thu 20-Mar-14 12:53:26

Watching with interest! Lovely positive posts so far, great to hear. Thanks OP!

flipflopsonfifthavenue Thu 20-Mar-14 08:59:50

I'm pg with DC2 and DS will be 2.4yo when the baby arrives. To be honest, I'm bricking it. We wanted this second baby because when we imagine our family in the future, it is with more than one child - so we just bit the bullet and went ahead with it.

It's good to read these replies, and I know there will be some (lots!!??) of bad days, but I think you just need to suck it up for a few years and think of the end results!

People do it all the time, and survive and are very very happy. I certainly can't imagine NOT having had my brother growing up.

CPtart Wed 19-Mar-14 20:53:17

2.5 years between mine and we managed with no family help. Nursery was my salvation for Ds1 when Ds2 came along but tbh, it was all far less of a shock to the system than having that first baby.
They are now 11 and 8 and get along so well, want the same days out etc. I never ever had an urge for a second child but had one as I thought we would regret not doing so later. It has been by far the single best decision we have ever made and the age gap is perfect.

fuckwittery Wed 19-Mar-14 20:39:25

Three year gao was managable (ish), keep eldest in some form of childcare, having eldest at full time school would be good. I had third baby when I had a 6.5 yr old and 3.5 yr old and the eldest and the baby is a dream combination she is so helpful. Depends on your child's personality though! My 3 yr age gap between first and second child and between second and third child works ok, but it was v hard to to be able to catch up on any daytime sleep as a 3yr old rarely naps and at most does half days at preschool unless you pay for more childcare. Unless you sleep on the floor on the lounge while toddler watches peppa pig (requires you to be able to make comments whilst asleep, gosh yes Peppa is naughty! ) or drive until they both fall asleep and immediately pull over.

Theyaremysunshine Wed 19-Mar-14 20:30:46

DS was 2.10 when dd arrived. DS had been one of those babies I often heard described as "high needs". He refluxed, woke every 45mins for 5 months, was clingy and turned into a fussy eater. Bf was ok but took ages, tied to the sofa.

I was very nervous about dc2. But she's 11m now and it's been great. Tiring yes, but not half as bad as having dc1. There's no culture shock, no massive learning curve, no loss of freedom, that's already done. It's amazing to do it all a second time when you know what you're doing! So much more fun. It does help that dd is a more chilled baby, who sleeps better (though still wakes) and bf so easily (5-10min feeds every couple of hours maintained her 98th centile to my amazement).

The interaction between DS and dd is just beautiful. They laugh about things that I have no idea about. Dd has mega hero worship going on and DS adores his little sister. Makes me all mushy.

So for me, 0-1 was almost impossibly hard. 1-2 dc has been masses easier and far more fun. Would have hated a smaller age gap though.

babyboomersrock Wed 19-Mar-14 19:15:44

I had exactly 3 years between my first and second and 2 years between my second and third. (My fourth was after a 6 year gap, and that was just fun, with 3 adoring brothers to mind her).

The 3 year gap was a breeze, but even the 2 year gap was fine. All were BF, but there weren't long hours of sofa-bound feeding after the first - in any case, the advantage of BF is that you do have a hand free to do other things.

My toddlers were all too active to endure hours of sitting around, so the baby would be fed, put in the sling or pram, and we all went out to the park/garden or for long walks, or to visit friends. If the baby needed a top-up, it wasn't hard to do, wherever we were; no fiddly bottles to worry about. My babies were all big (between 9.5lbs and 11.3lbs) and fed easily, I suppose, but I found I got better at organising myself after the first.

Each baby had to fit into the routine of the earlier child, more or less, and you do need to keep as fit as you can and get on with it. Second and subsequent babies don't get the same one-to-one time with parents perhaps, but they have the huge advantage of always having an older sibling around for fun and games.

Mine are all best friends still, and they're in their 20s and 30s. They've been such a joy.

dylsmimi Wed 19-Mar-14 19:01:07

I have 2.8yrs between mine & it hasn't been hellish
sure some bad days where i felt my eyes had just closed after getting ds2 to sleep and ds1 would be awake.
i kept ds1 in nursery a couple of days a week for continuity and so i could spend days exclusively with ds2 doing"baby" activities rather than dragging him round to toddler groups. First few months we were at nursery by mid am but it did get easier and earlier!
i found i was more confident second time around.
i breastfed ds2 & found it easier as when we were out with ds1 everything i needed for a feed was there so no going home early from the park etc as we had used up the one bottle we had prepared.
i also found that that was special time for me to cuddle with ds1 & read books etc while feeding ds2 & ds1 would often stroke his head

don't forget people come on mumsnet for advice not to say "I've had a lovely day today with my 2 dc!! So maybe a onesided ciewpoint

I missed the FF/BF part.... I made a decision early on that I would bf for as long as DH got paternity leave then switch to ff when he returned to work. He was in charge of cleaning & sterilising the bottles and making up the formula, knowing I had a full days worth in the fridge made my life a LOT less stressful.
Also, as soon as I got a BFP I ordered myself a dishwasher smile

pegster Wed 19-Mar-14 18:43:17

25 months between mine, DC2 is 20 weeks now & to be honest it has been absolutely fine. The toughest bit was the first few weeks when I was recovering from the caesarean & couldn't lift my toddler which was difficult for both of us. Now generally life is going along as usual with lots of groups & meeting friends for DC1 & DC2 happily tagging along & fitting in. I EBF so no experience of FF at all I'm afraid

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