We all know that mom guilt is real. The ways it hits us comes from all different angles. Today, let’s talk about the guilt many momma’s face when they learn they’re going to be a momma… again.
Second baby mom guilt hit me HARD. Many know that Ember, our Squishy girl, was our fertility baby. My little miracle. I never thought or intended to have more than her. So when we found out that we were pregnant again and she was only 8 months old, my emotions went on a roller coaster bigger than I ever thought they could.
Now, I literally JUST had a baby! I knew the deal with emotions and hormones and blah blah blah. Or at least, I thought I did. What people don’t tell you is how completely different being pregnant while your baby is still a baby can be. (I say can, because every pregnancy is different and my experience, while resonating with some, could be completely foreign to others.)
During the first few days of wrapping my head around the idea that I was pregnant- again- came some excitement and joy. Then, it hit me, and I remember this moment vividly. I was standing in the kitchen, putting squishy into her high chair for lunch. While I was holding her, we danced around for a bit and I was singing some made up tune about her being my favorite little girl and my baby. As she looked up at me, it crashed down like a ton of bricks.
She wasn’t going to be my only baby anymore. I felt grief and guilt wash over me. I felt I was robbing her of something. Exactly what, I’m not entirely sure, but it felt like something precious was being lost. While bubba was in school and daddy was at work, it was just the two of us. She was my girl. In that moment (and many, many subsequent moments), it felt like I was taking that away. Logical? Absolutely not. But even now, a year and a half after that moment, I can still feel it, as tears are stinging my eyes and something is stuck in my throat.
If you find yourself in this situation, I need you to take a deep breath and hear me loud and clear: YOU. ARE. NORMAL. I did some research on this. Second time mom guilt is a very real thing, and affects us in different ways. But the feelings are real. Is that going to immediately take the weight off your shoulders? Likely no. But just the reassurance that you are not alone so you can stop asking yourself ‘what’s wrong with me?!’ can be enough. So, let me say this one more time. YOU. ARE. NORMAL. And there is nothing wrong with you.
There are a lot of ways that you to ease these feelings, and of course not all will apply. The big ones are 1- talk with your baby about the big change, 2- involve them and help build the excitement about becoming a big brother or sister, and 3- ask for help from a friend or family member or even the child. None of these really worked for me, because my baby was only 8 months old when I found out we were pregnant. There was zero comprehension about what was changing, no way to involve her, and asking her to help me with small things that she could manage was not a thing. We’re a military family- 3,000 miles away from our hometowns and families. I have some friends here, and I did lean hard on them, but I struggled (struggle) with asking for help with friends.
That left me with only a couple viable options.
Routine, routine, routine. I’m a list maker, so this helped my OCD heart. We established a routine early on with our girl. A set(ish) time for dinner, bath, snuggles, and bed. A routine for her bedtime. Some semblance of normalcy that she, even at her age, was able to feel comfort, even if she didn’t know what it was. This helped us tremendously.
Also, quality time with her. Since she was with me 24/7, you would think quality time would be a given. But, it’s not. Especially during a pregnancy. It’s so easy to get lost in the needs of a child, house chores, and exhaustion of a pregnancy. Towards the tail end of my pregnancy, when I had a super active 1 year old, this rang especially true. There were moments at the end of the day when I sat down to snuggle and I realized that this was the first time I had really held her for just the sake of holding her all day. (Here comes more mom guilt. Ugh.) So focus on actually setting aside time to do something with your little one! Snuggles and a book (or movie- let’s be honest- you’re pregnant and you’re tired. Not reading EVERY night won’t cause lifetime damage), a few minutes coloring or stacking blocks. Taking a walk together. It doesn’t have to be a long time, 10 minutes of your focused and undivided attention each day can make a difference.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself! You would think this goes without saying, but so often we do neglect this. Myself included. When life got to be too overwhelming for me, I would set an alarm on my phone for 2-3 different times of the day. When it went off, I would stop what I was doing, make sure my girl was settled and safe, and step out on the back porch. I would set a timer for 60 seconds, close my eyes and take big, deep breaths. Timer would go off, and I’d head back in. For me, sometimes just taking a minute to myself could help me face the rest of the day with a better outlook. Sometimes it didn’t.
Not every trick is going to work every time. Find what works for you sometimes, and keep those tricks handy. Understand that this is normal, and it does pass, and try to find your joys in the little day to day moments. Cherish the moments and snuggles with your baby, hold them close and give in to the tears you’re holding back. You are stronger than you know, and you got this!
Check out Daily Mom for more tips on how to cope with mom guilt!
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