When you hear the term ‘second child syndrome’ you probably think about the poor kid who comes after the firstborn in the family. The one who gets less attention, less pictures, less time and eventually may even end up being the troubled middle child but this isn’t the second child syndrome I’m referring to.
I’m talking about being the mum in this situation and either thinking about or having that second baby - the other kind of 'second child syndrome'.
I recently went back home to Adelaide where I caught up with a few friends who have had a second child and most of them fall into one of two categories.
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The first is, they're shocked to find their second child is nothing like their first.
They had a great first experience of parenthood. Their firstborn slept well, adjusted to life outside the womb terrifically, reached all milestones and is generally a great little human. This then lulled them into a false sense of security in assuming that their second child with the same parents, same environment, same amount of love, would essentially be a clone of child one.
This is not how this works.
Before I had a baby I thought that they were a kind of blank canvas that you then filled up with life experiences to mould their little personality. The truth is, that kid comes out with a fully formed identity that you just have to get to know and understand as much as you can. As soon as they pop out, they are in fact their own person and that means that they bring with them all their own fun personality traits.
That can include never sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time, being a fussy eater, having allergies to stuff or being a bit of a bulldozer. A far cry from the perfect angel who first emerged from your womb.
The second category is those whose first child was a nightmare and they find themselves wondering: why am I doing this again?
Parents who find themselves in this category are the ones who walked around like zombies those first few months the first time around telling everyone that they were so happy to have that baby when in reality their sanity was quickly running out the door with its mates: sleep and reality.