I started writing this article in my hospital bed -- tired, hungry, sore and with a massive headache -- as I watched my newborn girl sleeping in her bassinet.
Despite the exhaustion and pain, this time felt very different from the first. I was happy... relaxed... and less scared. I'd even found the time to do something other than sleep.
I started to think about all the things I had read and heard about having a second child... the things that worried me:
- Work increases exponentially
- No longer 'cute couple plus baby,' but 'clan'
- Strained relationship
- Less romance
- More expenses
- No time
- More organization required
- Less novelty and no baby-moon phase
And so on...
So I wondered to myself "why?"
"Why does it feel much better this time around?"
Yes, I've done it before.
Yes, labor and delivery was easier.
Yes, I know what I'm doing (somewhat at least).
But this time I'm doing and spending more time on my own as my husband is taking care of our toddler.
This time I know that I will have double the work and less time for myself.
This time I am not caught up in the newborn euphoria because I know the hard realities of parenthood.
So why did I feel so much more hopeful and relaxed?
Before I had a chance to finish my train of thought, the door opened and my older daughter ran in -- eyes bright, big smile -- jumped on the bed and gave me a giant hug. Babyyyy!! She said. Then "Sister!!!" a new word she'd apparently picked up at nursery.
And that's when it hit me.
It's so different and much better second time around because this time I know it's worth it.
The effort... the stress... the difficulties...
It's all worth it
When my newborn wakes me up every two hours at night, I think of my 2-year-old running to me with arms wide open, and I know every sleepless night will be worth it.
When I am sore and tired, I just have to listen to my toddler make up sentences or laugh hysterically and I know I can tolerate the physical exhaustion of parenting.
When I am overwhelmed with the number of things I have to do, I watch my older girl kissing her baby sister, and I know that even among all the "to-do's," I have so many precious moments to look forward to.
When I worry about parenting, life, and a million other little things, I see how in-love my oldest is with her little sister and I know that for the rest of their lives they will both know an amazing sense of love, safety and connection -- and that calms me down.
So while I'm not under the illusion that every day (let alone every minute) with my two daughters will be easy or blissful, I know now that the highs of parenting more than make up for its lows.
It's not because we see parenting through a "rosy glass" or are "deluded" into thinking that it's easy and a recipe for happiness. It's because we see clearly that parenting is hard, but that there are moments of joy -- enough of them -- to make it worth it.