We’re pretty sure it’s practically a prerequisite, a box we have to check on the form when applying to be a first-time mom: must be a worrier. Seriously, is it even possible to be a mom for the first time without worrying? We don’t think so. From cutting tiny fingernails to wondering why your baby is crying so much to trying to decide whose advice you should follow (because all of it conflicts), there’s no end to the lengthy list of worries most first-time moms go through. So if you’re panicking about your first baby, don’t worry: your fellow moms are no different.
The funny thing, though, is that most of these worries magically evaporate when the second baby comes along. By that time, you’re a seasoned mom; you know what you’re doing. You’ve figured out the trick to cutting baby fingernails, the secret as to why your baby cries so much (answer: it’s a baby), and you’ve quit listening to everyone else’s advice in favor of doing what your momma heart tells you. By the time you get to the second baby, you’re probably laughing at the things you worried about with the first—but at the time, they were legitimate worries that kept you up at night. (Which is totally okay, because you needed to be awake anyway to check if your baby was still breathing.) Here are the 20 things that moms panic about with the first baby, but never the second.
20 What to wear to the baby shower
That’s right: even before the baby comes along, moms have already begun to worry. How can you make the bump look cutest? Is it worth it to buy a trendy maternity dress just for the shower? As soon as the date of the shower is put on the calendar, it’s a rush to Pinterest to see what’s cute and trendy this year as far as baby shower attire. Heaven forbid someone should throw you a surprise shower—your unprepared state will be forever documented on Instagram! But by the time the second baby comes along, you don’t even have to think about your outfit for the shower: you’re grabbing yoga pants and throwing your hair in a messy bun, just like every other day. No, it’s not worth it to buy a dress just to wear one time at the shower—and even though you bought one for the first shower, you can’t find it now. It’s buried somewhere under a pile of baby clothes. By the time the second baby is born, you’re probably laughing back at your past self, flabbergasted that you could have ever been so panicked about such an insignificant problem.
19 That you won’t finish the nursery before the baby comes
You begin your pregnancy Googling things such as “cutest baby nursery ideas,” or “trendy nurseries for baby girls,” or “Harry Potter themed nursery,” fully intending to take one of those cute ideas and run with it. And at first, it’s going well—you’ve got the Gryffindor blanket and the Deathly Hallows mobile all ready to go, and your husband is tackling the ten other projects on the honey-do list. But as your due date approaches faster and faster, your search history takes on a different tone: “how to finish nursery before the baby comes,” or “how long does it take for furniture to be delivered,” or “how to make husband hurry up and paint.” Because what if you bring the baby home from the hospital and you don’t have anywhere for him or her to sleep?! You lie awake at night worrying about this terrible scenario. All you want is a nice crib in a decorated room so your baby can sleep (and so you can get a good Instagram photo #bloggermom). Is that too much to ask? Baby #2 should consider himself lucky if he has a drawer to sleep in, though.
18 Whether the baby is still breathing at night
If you’ve ever hung over the side of the crib at midnight with a small flashlight, checking to see if your baby’s chest is still rising and falling, don’t feel too bad. We’ve done it, too. Who knows what kind of terrible things could happen in the night—even if the baby is in the same room as us! This fear is somewhat justified, though, because occasionally babies do stop breathing at night: it’s a phenomenon called Brief Resolved Unexplained Events, and it’s fairly common. But in most cases, these BRUE’s only last a minute or two, and they’re not always a sign of more serious underlying problems. As much as we know everything is probably going to be fine, that still doesn’t stop us from worrying, because as moms that’s what we do. By the second baby, though, we know they’ll be fine—and furthermore, we know we need to take our sleep whenever we can get it. No more wasting prime naptime just to watch the baby breathe. If you successfully raised one child who’s still breathing, surely you can successfully raise another. And with subsequent kids, this worry grows smaller and smaller still.
17 If the baby’s neck is supported properly
If anyone asks to hold your baby, you have to give a full-out demonstration first, even if this person is a fellow mom or even a grandmother: you show them in great detail how to hold your baby and how to support its neck. And heaven forbid anyone under the age of thirty should ask to hold the baby—they couldn’t possibly know how, and we can’t let that little neck flop around! Your greatest fear is someone handing your baby off to a teenager or kid without your knowledge. And besides the fact you’re worried about others taking proper care of your baby, you’re simply so in love with your baby, you just want to hold him or her all the time—you can’t bear to let someone else take a turn. Does this scenario look different with the second baby? Absolutely: you’re begging anyone and everyone, thirty or not, to please hold your baby so you can go running after your toddler. The baby has a neck? You weren’t even aware. Now, your greatest desire is for someone else to offer to hold the baby so you can have a break.
16 Mosquito bites
Before you had a baby, mosquito bites were simply a nuisance, an annoying fact of summer that you had to put up with until the weather got cool again. You’d scratch them and then go on about your life and not think much about them. But the first time you took your new baby outside in the summer and he or she returned covered in mosquito bites, you panicked completely. You tried all the remedies—baking soda, lemon, salt, garlic, aloe vera, ice, toothpaste, honey, apple cider vinegar. If the Internet said it would lessen those horrific red bites, you slathered it on; no matter how crazy the remedy sounded, you wanted to try it. And your greatest fear was that not only would your baby sustain mosquito bites, but that furthermore, a bee or a wasp should come along. What if your baby was allergic?! By the time the second baby came along, however, you had reverted to your earlier opinion of mosquitos: they’re a fact of life, you can’t go outside in the summer and completely avoid them, but that’s okay because, most likely, they won’t hurt anything. Crisis averted.
15 Whether the baby is cute enough
Yes, we KNOW this is a COMPLETELY ridiculous worry—but we’re 100% guilty of worrying it anyway. It’s just that we have a picture in our head of an adorable bouncing baby, wearing a cute onesie or the latest Pinterest-trendy baby clothes, and then the baby comes out and it’s so wrinkled and red, well, not what you expected. As much as you love the baby, you can’t help harboring a secret worry—is my baby really cute? And what about when he or she grows up? Will my baby be beautiful? Handsome? What if she can’t get a date to prom? Things only get worse when all of your fellow mom friends begin posting pictures of their babies—all of whom have perfect complexions and just the right amount of hair to be cute. Sigh. You lie awake nights worrying. By the second baby, though, this is something that’s so far from your mind, you almost can’t believe you were ever worried about it. Of course, your baby is adorable, even as a newborn—and things can only go up from there! With baby #2, you sigh with contentment, admiring how beautiful your baby is.
14 Dropping the baby
Remember how you give everyone a detailed demonstration of how to support the baby’s neck? You also conduct master classes in how to hold the baby (even though you only know how because you Googled it before the baby was born). Your greatest fear is ending up with one of those terrible situations where the nanny dropped the baby down the stairs and the baby had fluid on the brain and was never the same again—but if you have anything to do with it, which you do, that will never happen here. You show everyone how to hold the baby tightly, support its neck, and tell them to not walk up and down the stairs holding the baby! But when baby #2 comes along, you’re thrusting it into people’s arms, asking an unsuspecting passerby to carry the baby down the stairs so you can go round up your toddler. You’re not too worried about them dropping the baby, as long as they don’t drop it too hard. Everyone knows those nanny horror stories are one in a thousand, anyway; what are the chances that’ll happen here? Slim to none. Here—take the baby.
13 If the baby is sleeping enough
If visitors want to keep their head, they know to never ring the doorbell and to come in quietly in case the baby is sleeping; most of your friends and family have been chewed out more than once for stomping through the house or laughing too loudly or getting a phone call and therefore waking up the baby. You’re constantly worried about whether your little one is getting enough sleep. It’s just that newborns have such a different sleep schedule than adults: whereas you could probably sleep for ten or twelve hours if you had the chance, the baby naps for two hours, and then wakes up. Then it sleeps for two more hours—and then wakes up again. It proceeds to continue this pattern all. Day. Long. Maybe you’re not really worried about whether the baby is sleeping enough—maybe your main worry is whether you’re sleeping enough. (Answer: you’re not.) With the second baby, though, you feel more prepared. You’re accustomed to a newborn’s sleep schedule, and you feel reassured your baby is getting plenty of sleep. Of course, you wouldn’t mind if they got more—because the more sleep for baby, the more sleep for Mom.
12 That you’ll never be on time again. Ever.
Pre-baby, you never understood why your mom friends were always dragging behind. Seriously: you get the baby dressed, stick them in the carseat, and drive to your destination. It’s not that hard. Right? Now, you understand all too well. Who knew babies required so much paraphernalia—the diaper bag, the extra change of clothes, the bottle and toys and burp cloths. And without fail, your baby has some kind of situation involving bodily fluids five minutes before you’re ready to walk out the door, making you throw your hands up with exasperation and despair. So much for your fantasy of simply getting the baby dressed and walking out the door: now, you fantasize about even reaching your destination in the first place. By the second baby, you’ve realized that each child adds about fifteen more minutes to the time it takes you to get out the door. (Which is a good reason to stop at two.) You’re resigned to the fact that, no, you won’t be on time ever again—that is, until your kids start driving and you can send them off on their own—and so you’ve mastered the art of making a fashionably late entrance.
11 All the crying
There are just so many options. Your baby could be hungry; have a wet diaper; or something could be terribly, horribly wrong, and your baby doesn’t have the language skills to tell you what it is. What a nightmare! Frantic, you find yourself Googling charts showing the difference between a high crier, average crier, and low crier. You learn the difference between fussing and inconsolable crying, and you read up on the period of PURPLE crying. All of this information, however, does little to nothing to soothe you or help you: your baby still cries multiple times a day, you still don’t know why, and you still don’t know how to stop it. Most of the time, you feel like lying down and bursting into tears, too. By the second baby, you’ve finally realized why babies cry so much: because they’re babies. You even pride yourself on being able to recognize different types of cries—even if you’re in another room, you can tell if your baby is wet, hungry, or in pain. You finally feel like a capable mom who knows what she’s doing, but it sure took a lot of trial, error, and tears with baby #1.
10 Breast or bottle?
Even before baby is born, you’re doing your research on the Great Debate, feeling pressure to decide which way you’ll go. Wanting to give your baby the most nutrients possible, you read the pros and cons of breastfeeding: it’s natural, it’s healthy for you and for baby, breast milk is easy for baby to digest, breastfeeding is convenient and economical and comforting and relaxing… but it can be painful, it leaves you as the only person who can feed your baby (meaning lots of late-night calls), and you have to watch your diet. Bottle feeding, meanwhile, means anyone can feed your baby and you can see how much your baby is consuming; but formula doesn’t have the same benefits as breast milk, it can be expensive, and it requires lots of pre-preparation. Whew! You agonize over the decision for months… but somehow, when the time comes, you know just what to do. And by the time baby #2 makes an appearance, you’re confident and prepared. Most of all, you realize the important thing is that the baby is healthy and you get to bond with him or her, whether that’s through breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
9 Whether the baby is on track developmentally
You spend hours looking at charts online: when should the first smile happen? What about the first tooth? The first step? And if your baby deviates from the chart by even a day, you panic. The big question, though, is not whether your baby is on track compared to the chart, but whether your baby is on track compared to your friends’ babies. The real cause for panic is when you get on Facebook and see your mom friend gushing all the details about how her little one said his first word today—but your baby was born a week before your friend’s, and he hasn’t said anything at all yet! Anxiously, you spend the rest of the day trying to convince your baby to talk by any means you can think of. When it’s time for baby #2, though, you know how things go. Since you’ve done this once already, you know what to expect—and, you know it doesn’t really matter if your neighbor’s baby cuts a tooth before yours, so long as your baby’s tooth comes through at some point. Which it will. Babies are different, and that’s okay; it’s not a race.
8 Whose advice you should follow
Because who knew there was going to be so much of it?! Your friend tells you to breastfeed instead of bottle-feed and your other friend swears bottles are the way to go. You read online having a car seat for your baby on the plane is better than doubling up, but your mother tells you to not believe everything you read on the Internet. Your trusted best friend tells you to get your baby vaccinations, but your favorite blogger says not to. What’s a mom supposed to do?! You want to follow your mother’s advice, because you’ve finally realized she knows what she’s talking about; you want to follow your friends’ advice, because they’re going through motherhood in the same day and age as you; and you want to follow your mother-in-law’s advice, because you know things won’t go well if you don’t. But when everyone’s advice conflicts, you just don’t know what to do. We know you’ll make the right choice, however: follow your momma heart and do what feels right. And by the time your next little one is born, you’ll have it all figured out and know exactly what to do.
7 Losing the baby weight
You panic because you think your body will never be the same. We have some news for you that’s both good and bad: it won’t be. But that’s okay! Your mom body is so much better, because you use it to carry, love, and provide for your children. But we understand if you haven’t quite realized this yet post-baby-#1. Luckily, a baby makes a great workout accessory: hold him or her while doing lunges, squats, or simply walking back and forth across the nursery trying to get him or her to sleep can do wonders for strength and toning. A proper diet and plenty of water can help you slim back down, too—now that you no longer have those pregnancy cravings for midnight pickles and chocolate ice cream, get back into a routine of eating mostly protein and vegetables and cutting back on the other stuff. Before long, you’ll see there’s really no reason for panic: first of all, because it is possible to lose most of that baby weight and keep it off. And second, because your body is pretty great just the way it is. By the second baby, most moms have realized these two truths and are feeling a lot calmer about all that baby weight.
6 Cutting fingernails and toenails
The panic here is 100% justified, because they’re JUST. SO. TINY! Especially if you have traumatic memories of your own mom cutting your toenails when you were little, you spend even more time worrying you’ll slip and accidentally draw blood and leave your little one with the same traumatic memories you have. You try your best to go slowly and carefully, but what if you slip? You could gouge the tender skin under your baby’s toenail! We wouldn’t blame you if your baby had long witch fingernails for the first few months (or even years) of his or her life, because you were simply too scared to try. But eventually you have to cut your baby’s nails, and with some practice, you find it’s not as difficult or scary as you’d thought. By the second baby, you’re secure in your fingernail-trimming-prowess. If you’ve cut your first child’s twenty fingernails and toenails every couple of weeks for four years, well, you do the math—that’s a lot of nails you’ve trimmed! You know exactly what you’re doing, and with your second baby, you can pick up the nail clippers with confidence.
5 That you’ll never get enough sleep again
Between the midnight wake-up calls, the 2 AM wake-up calls, and the 4 AM wake-up calls, by the time your actual alarm goes off (the one that’s a clock—not just a baby crying), you’re ready to go back to sleep. Except you can’t, because the baby is wide-awake. You never truly realized how important sleep is and how much you valued it until you weren’t getting anywhere near enough of it. Those long nights and long days of erratic sleep schedules seem to never end, and you resign yourself to perpetual exhaustion. You don’t panic about sleep with the second child for two reasons: one, you’ve figured out how to live on just a little sleep. It’s difficult, but with caffeine and willpower it is possible. And two, you know eventually your newborn’s sleep schedule will even out and this will end—before you know it, they’ll be a teenager, and you won’t hear from their bedroom for ten hours a night. One day you’ll be begging them to wake up so the family can get out the door, and you’ll wonder why you ever panicked that your family wasn’t sleeping enough.
4 That your non-mom friends will forget about you
Try as they might, they just don’t understand what your life is like now—sure, they think your baby is cute, but they’ve never had to get up at four in the morning to feed her. You used to spend Friday nights getting cocktails on the town with your friends, so they don’t fully understand now why you’re always too exhausted to go out—and why, when you do make it to a girls’ night (unwashed hair, hubby-turned-babysitter on speed dial, and all) you can only manage to talk about formula and sleep schedules and spit-up. You’re worried that you’re too boring, too busy, and none of your former friends (who now seem to lead impossibly sophisticated lives compared to yours) could possibly want to hang around you anymore. The second time you have a baby, however, your non-mom friends understand a little better; they’ve watched you raise baby #1, and they know what it takes. Plus, you’re not so worried anymore about what your friends think—you know they love you regardless of whether you can still hit the town every Friday. And if you wait long enough, the majority of your non-mom friends will probably become mom friends instead.
3 That you don’t love your baby enough
You panic you don’t love your baby enough and, therefore, that you are a bad mom. But this feeling is common among first-time moms: it’s a phenomenon called the “baby blues,” and it’s actually a form of post-partum depression. So if all you can do after the birth of your baby is to lie listlessly in bed, looking at your baby and crying and wondering why you don’t feel as happy as you’d anticipated feeling, don’t panic too much. You may not be able to see it at first, but this feeling will pass. Sometimes, bonding with your baby just takes time—it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. When you have your second baby, you’ll be able to look back and remember how your inexplicable feelings of sadness eventually went away. You’ll also be equipped with tools to fight the baby blues: you’ll know how to go outside for a breath of fresh air, ask for help, and give yourself time to heal, rest, and bond. Most of all, you will have realized that bonding takes time, and it doesn’t make you a bad mom if you need a few weeks to feel excited over your baby.
2 Driving around with the baby
When you think back to the way you used to drive before you had a baby, you shake your head and wonder how you didn’t have a wreck at least once a week (or perhaps you remember with regret how you did have a wreck at least once a week). Now, you’re in danger of causing a wreck due to driving so slowly and cautiously. You have a sneaking suspicion you’ve turned into your grandma, but you’re okay with that, honestly—anything to keep your baby safe. You’ve turned over a new leaf, and you drive very slowly and carefully. Or better yet, desperate to protect your baby from any potentially harmful circumstances, you don’t drive at all! Staying home seems safest, so that’s the choice you gravitate towards… at least, at first. With baby #2, you know getting out of the house will be your only saving grace—a change of scenery is the key (literally) to surviving life with two young kiddos. And you’ve realized driving slowly can be just as dangerous as driving quickly, so you just cross your fingers, get into the car, and brave the road at a normal (but not a reckless) speed.
1 Other people judging your mom skills
Like we said earlier, everyone is giving you advice that they fully expect you to follow, and everyone firmly believes their advice is the one and only correct way of doing things. But when you can’t follow everyone’s advice at once—and you can’t, because it will inevitably conflict—you may end up with a disgruntled friend or, worse, a disgruntled mother-in-law. People might take it personally, becoming offended and judging the way you’ve decided to do things. And at first, you might take their judgment personally. But eventually you’ll realize everyone has a different opinion, and really, you don’t have to worry what they think—you can just do you. Who cares if someone is giving you a full dose of side-eye snark because your baby isn’t wearing shoes? You know he pulls them off any chance he gets, and it’s more trouble than it’s worth, no matter how cute said shoes are. And by the time the second baby comes along, you’ll be totally confident in your momma abilities, scorning judgment and doing what you think is right. Because this isn’t your first rodeo, and you’ve got things all figured out.