Dealing with the birth of the second child

Dealing with the birth of the second child

We’re just about six weeks away from our delivery date for our new daughter, Sophia Therese. It’s funny that what worried me last time—labor, delivery, and what to expect being a new dad—is not what worries me this time. In fact, the actual delivery of the baby is hardly on my radar screen (sorry, Melanie).

No, what most fills my thoughts right now is how we’re going to deal with Isabella. More specifically, how am I going to deal with her in mommy’s absence? When the time comes do we take her with us somehow or do we drop her off with my sister? What if it’s the middle of the night? How will she cope with the disruption and not being able to see mommy for some period of time? (She’s never been away from mommy for more than a few hours.)

What do I do with Isabella after Sophia is born? Will I be able to get her to bed and how will I deal with the inevitable calling for mommy? What if Melanie has to have another C-section and is in the hospital for four days? What about after, if she’s not allowed to lift Bella?

It’s not like I’m incapable of doing these things. As it is now, I’m an integral part of her routine. At bedtime, Melanie and I switch off bathing her, but I’m always the one to take her to her bedroom and dry her off and play with her while getting her ready for bed. I brush her hair and her teeth and get her new diaper and her pajamas on her. But it’s Melanie who rocks her to sleep and puts her down.

I wonder what other dads have done, when faced with the dilemma of the birth of their second child. If you didn’t have ready help—your mom or your wife’s mom, for example—how did you cope?

Update: I suppose I should clarify. I’m not worried about Isabella adjusting to having a new sister and mommy having to divide her attention. I know all kids adjust.

I’m specifically thinking about Isabella having to deal with me for those two, three, or four days that mommy’s not there doing all those things that mommy does for her every day.

I know we’ll be okay, but I just wrote it down to voice it for myself.

  • My husband I and just had our second baby girl!  She will be 8 weeks old already this Thursday.  It’s going so fast.

    Like you, I wasn’t worried about labor and delivery or life with a new baby.  I was worried about how my toddler would handle it all and how I would handle her and a baby (I’m a sahm).  She was 25 months when our second was born and we’ve all adjusted really well.

    It’s very natural for the father to take a bigger role in the older child’s life after a new baby is born.  It allows the mom to bond with, and take care of, the baby.  My husband has done an amazing job of taking the lead with our toddler. 

    It was a rough few weeks of toddler tantrums and getting used to having two to take care of instead of one.  But it was seriously such a joyful transition and we can’t believe we didn’t have two sooner!

    You will do fine and your Isabella will do fine too.  You will both do better than fine, you will shine in your new roles.  And life will take on a new sense of normal, just like it did after your first was born, and just like it does with each child (I’m assuming).

    Good luck and prayers for your family!  What an exciting time!

  • as Kelly said, just relax.  You will be like all the other men that have survived.  Life takes care of itself and older siblings adjust. Hey, in another 10 years you can be out of the worry zone.  This delivery we had my oldest daughter, 12, watch her brothers until some other friends from church arrived.  Then she watched them on and off during the day.

    With #6 we had a friend on call.  Good thing cuz we had a false alarm with bleeding about a week before due date.  at 4 am, we sprinted out the door knowing a friend was only 5 minutes away and on her way to watch the kids.

    Good luck and trust that the Lord will hold you in his hand.

  • For what it’s worth, I think that just the fact that you’re thinking about this means that you’re going to do fine.

    We’ve had help from family during and after the births of our three children, but what came to mind when I read your post was when I went back to school when my oldest was six months old.  For the next four years, I took at least one night class a week, which meant Daddy taking over what was usually my ‘domain.’  There was a learning curve, but I think it was a great experience for both of them.

    Best of luck with everything—you have my prayers as this new little one comes into your family.

  • A side note added to all the excellent advice above.

    Don’t be afraid of Isabella’s possible suffering becoming a big sister. As the oldest in my family I can attest to the fact “it’s tough to learn to share”. But it’s the beginning of learning the beautiful truth that true love just gets bigger and better as life gets messier, smellier and more hectic serving God’s children.

    My first baby is 20(who did have a very tough time as our family grew) and just left for spring semester in Austria. She’ll spend her spring break being a servant to the ill at Lourdes Shrine. The pain and fear she suffered through my medically scary pregnancies has blessed her with the strength to help suffering people that others might try to avoid.

    God bless you. You’ll grow leaps and bounds as a daddy this year!

  • I had 5 kids in 7 years, all c-sections, so I will offer my experience on the post-op period.  First of all, if Melanie needs another section, I found the subsequent ones much easier than the first.  I think that’s because you know how to move without hurting yourself, and you know your limits.  So, don’t feel too discouraged if it turns out that way.
    My lifesaver was a big recliner/rocker chair with pillow-top arms.  I kept a pillow on top of my tummy for protection, and there was room for toddlers to snuggle and to peek at the baby.  The truth is, Mom misses the kiddies as much as they miss her.
    God bless you all at this special time,

  • Not to worry.  Isabella will be much better with this than you think.  They ‘get it’ when Mom’s in the hospital—and especially when they see the new baby.

  • When I had my second the oldest was 25 months old (I think that’s a bit older than your daughter will be), but what helped our family was my husband making a big deal about doing things with the older child “to help mommy.”  I did need it, too, as I was battling both bronchitis and mastitis by about the 4th day after delivery.  Joe and Daddy would go to the store to get things “to help mommy,” and they’d bring me things and make lunch together for me, etc.  It was a surprising period of bonding for the two of them, and also a time for me to learn that many of Joe’s needs could be met by Daddy as well as myself (I’d been a bit of a baby-hog with that first child!).

  • Dom:  As my Number Two is also a Sophia, let me tell you, you’re going to be fine.  Her arrival will be easier than Isabella’s, whose appearance meant that you went from zero to one kid in five seconds or less.  Going from one to two has a different feel to it, yes, in terms of your being a bit more hands-on with Bella, but it’s really not a big dramatic shift.  Melanie will still be fully hands-on with Bella but’ll have to focus, obviously, more frequently on the care and feeding of Sophia. 

    By the same token (that damn token gets a lot of use, don’t it?), you’re also going to be handling Sophia, dad naps, and doing that holding-walking-gently-shaking dance with the wee one.

    Before our Sophie arrived, I had visions of Mariclare (her older sister by two and a half years) having some jealousy troubles, and I worried about my ability to catch the punted older sister as well.

    None of it panned out.  Instead it was a blast, and still is —I felt way more prepared for Sophia’s debut.  And Mariclare was crazy about her new sister from day one, and still is.  And I did fine with the transition, a brief return to sleep deprivation notwithstanding.  So don’t worry about it.

    Instead, worry about explaining why you can’t stop beating your wife with a Morris chair slat.  grin

    And send pics of Sophia Therese!

  • You both will be fine and Isabella will be absolutely thrilled with all the attention that you shower on her. God has a way of working it all out. My advice…..just do the next thing ….whatever comes up. You will definitely survive. God Bless