You Know You’re a Second Child If…11 Signs

I gave birth to my second daughter earlier this year. Soon after, I realized that my parenting style with No. 2 was a bit different (lazier?) than it had been with No. 1. Kids, here are 11 signs that you’re a second child…and these are only through the first 10 months. Who knows what the next, oh, 18 years or so will bring? Hang in there.

1. Your mom prepared homemade, organic breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for your older sister, and you (Sister No. 2) just dined at Chick-Fil-A for the third time in five days. Pass the French fries, please!

2. In anticipation of your sister’s birth, your mom thoughtfully selected and had monogrammed designer onesies, bathrobes and swimsuits. Before you made your debut, your mom hauled those hand-me-downs out of storage and outfitted you in them. Maybe she even washed them first. So what if the monogram doesn’t match your actual name, except for the last letter that you and your sister both share?

3. Monogrammed outfits, diaper wipes warmer, shopping cart cover…the ‘rents went all out for their first bundle of joy. Meanwhile, you’ve learned to live with secondhand styles, room-temperature wipes, and riding shotgun around the grocery store, sans designer cushy seat for your tush. But you don’t know any different (or better), so you’re not complaining.

4. By the time your sister was your age (10 months), she was enjoying a rich social calendar of story time, swim lessons, museum visits and play dates. Um, play dates? Not in your vocabulary. You do have an always-available playmate, though (except when she thinks she’s too sophisticated for you).

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5. Also by the time No. 1 was 10 months old, your mom had already planned her first birthday party, a special event of Mindy Weiss proportions. The custom invitations had been designed, the perfect cake batter researched (e.g., visits to various local bakeries for cupcake taste testing—research sure can be tough!), and the favors ordered. Your first birthday party? Yeah, it’s going to be a cupcake after dinner at home with your regular party of four. Your mom may spring for a balloon or two, but you’re not holding your breath.

6. Your mom and dad are stretched thinner than they were the first time around, giving you more space to scoot off, explore and cause trouble.

7. Your family nickname is, in fact, Troublemaker.

8. At the same time, your parents know, in a way they didn’t then, that this baby time is fleeting, relatively. So you’re the spoiled recipient of hugs, kisses and snuggles galore from your mom and dad (and usually your older sister too, along with the occasional semi-jealous push that she claims was an accident).

9. Despite those occasional passive-aggressive outbursts, your favorite person is your older sister. Nobody can make you light up quite the way she can.

10. Your mom took approximately 1.3 million pictures of No. 1 and lovingly created photo book after photo book of her first few years, in three-month increments. Your mom has taken tons of pictures of you too…but for the foreseeable future, they’ll stay stored on her phone rather than artfully arranged in physical scrapbooks for posterity’s sake.

11. Your parents know what they’re doing (they didn’t with your sister—trust me). And about that sister, how lucky are you to have her? To be born into a ready-made family? Sometimes second place isn’t all that bad.

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s e-books, available on Amazon.com. Writing at its most heartfelt.

Take a Babymoon, If Possible!

Baby G just turned 8 weeks old. The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity and emotion. I love this sweet baby so much.

At the same time, there have been moments when I’ve reminisced about how wonderful it is to get a good night’s sleep. And even to sleep in.

Several months before Baby G’s due date, my hubby and I escaped for a long “babymoon” weekend in San Diego, leaving Little G here in San Antonio with my parents (who, luckily, didn’t mind babysitting at all!). We had the best time. We ate at amazing restaurants, took long walks along the beach, went to see a movie (a movie!), simply hung out, and slept in. Yes, slept in.

And so if a mom- or dad-to-be were to ask me for my best advice regarding impending parenthood, it would be this: Take a babymoon, if possible! Get away together. Enjoy some time together. And sleep in. Definitely sleep in.

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Breastpumping for Your Next Baby: 9 Tips

There’s a 3½-year age difference between my two daughters, Little G and Baby G. So far, this spacing has worked out well for my hubby and me—we had plenty of time to catch up on rest before this current bout of sleep deprivation with our newborn! 🙂 One shortcoming, however, was the “updating” I needed to do to my breastpump, the Medela Pump In Style Advanced.

I bought this breastpump in 2011 and used it fairly regularly for about a year. So for about the past two years then, it’s hung out, unused, in a corner of my closet. I knew I’d need it again when Baby G was born (she recently arrived!), for those times when I needed help feeding her. When I pulled it out, though, I noticed that the breastmilk collection and storage pieces (e.g., the breastshields and bottles) looked “cloudy,” possibly stained with old milk.

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I talked with two family members who work in the medical field and read some articles online to come up with the following tips for breastpumping for your next baby, especially if you haven’t used your breastpump in a while.

Tip No. 1: Buy new breastmilk collection and storage pieces. Everyone agrees on this one. Over time, bacteria and/or mold can build up on these pieces. I replaced my Medela breastshields, valves, membranes, and tubing with this Maymom kit. Maymom doesn’t sell Medela-compatible storage bottles, so I bought these Medela-branded bottles at my local grocery store (HEB here in San Antonio). So far, all of these new pieces are working well.

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Tip No. 2: Consider buying new bottles. The jury is mixed on this one. Some sources say that you can safely reuse old bottles after cleaning them, while others recommend starting afresh with new bottles. Ultimately, I decided to start afresh, replacing my 3½-year-old First Years Breastflow Starter Set with the exact same kind. For $16, I have peace of mind (priceless, for me!) knowing that Baby G is getting my milk from a fresh source.

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Tip No. 3: Wash everything before using it. The collection and storage pieces, the bottles, the bottle brush—everything. Both the Maymom and First Years products have detailed instructions about how to properly clean and sanitize the pieces.

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Tip No. 4: When you wash the two pieces of Maymom tubing, it’s possible that some water will get stuck within the tubing. To get the water out, run your breastpump for a few minutes without expressing milk—simply run it with the tubes exposed to the air, so that the water will dry out.

Tip No. 5: Your health insurance may cover the cost of a new breastpump for you—look into it! Some helpful resources include (a) this page from the HealthCare.gov website, (b) Medela’s “Insurance Pump Lookup” page, and (c) this New York Times blog post.

Tip No. 6: Remember to stock up on other breastpumping essentials. For example, these Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags and these Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags—for after expressing milk! The first time I expressed milk for Baby G, I didn’t have any Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. Luckily, a Breastflow bottle acted as my storage substitute that time.

Tip No. 7: Refresh yourself on breastmilk storage safety guidelines. La Leche League International offers this wonderfully helpful resource. This webpage details “Storage Guidelines” as well as “What Type of Container to Use” and “How to Warm the Milk.” The Mayo Clinic provides this additional resource, too.

Tip No. 8: Ask for help if needed. You may have a question that the Internet, including my blog post here, doesn’t have an answer for! Sometimes it’s best to chat with a professional, rather than check in with a website.

Here in San Antonio, a variety of sources exist to help breastfeeding and breastpumping mothers. One that I know and have turned to is the Mother’s Milk First Lactation Center, part of the Baptist Health System. Your city may have similar services; try Googling “breastfeeding help [INSERT CITY]” to locate them.

Tip No. 9: Take care of yourself. Breastpumping, like breastfeeding, is both rewarding and demanding. Drink lots of water and eat well. Rest when (if?!) possible. Most importantly, do what makes the most sense for you and your family—try not to stress.

Good luck, friends. ❤

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s e-books, available on Amazon.com. Writing at its most heartfelt.

7 Ways Baby #2 Has Been Easier AND Harder

Baby G was born recently, happily transforming our family into a party of four. Right away, my hubby and I noticed how she’s been an easier baby than her older sister, Little G, was … as well as harder.

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Partly, Baby G is easier because we as her parents know what we’re doing this time around. So our parenting style toward her is more informed, more laid-back, and more appreciative—we recognize that this sleep-challenged yet sweet newborn stage is fleeting. But there are a few other variables, too, which also weigh in with the “harder” part …

1: We kept Baby G mostly to ourselves at the hospital. My hubby and I (selfishly!) decided to have just us in the labor and delivery room. We also asked family and friends not to worry about waiting at the hospital for Baby G’s arrival—my hubby would simply call and/or text everyone when she was born.

Toward the end of my roughly eight-hour labor, our time in the labor and delivery room even felt a bit like a date. (Yes, I had an epidural! 🙂 ) My hubby and I reminisced about past happy times and looked forward to similar future ones, this time with another daughter in tow.

After Baby G was born, the two of us spent about three hours together with her, just the three of us, as well as the majority of the next day together, too. Simply put, it was really nice to have all that time to snuggle Baby G and get to know her before introducing her to loved ones.

2: Delivery was much easier this second time. Little G paved the way for Baby G, as my OB/GYN said. I didn’t need to push much, and afterward, I felt better much sooner than last time.

3: Breastfeeding was much easier, too. Maybe Baby G was born knowing what to do. Maybe I was more confident this time. Maybe a little of both. But thus far, nursing Baby G has been pleasant and relatively pain- and problem-free.

4: My mom was able to be a huge help to us. A few months ago, my mom retired. Her retirement/newfound flexible schedule allowed her to be 100 percent available to my hubby, me, and our daughters for about three weeks after Baby G was born. While she was here, my mom went grocery shopping, cooked and froze dinners for us, and played tirelessly with Little G. We couldn’t have made it through the first month of Baby G’s life without her!

5: Now, on the harder side … Baby G got a cold when she was 1 week old. Little G, on the other hand, was cold-free until she was six months old. Being born in winter rather than summer, combined with having a preschool-age sibling, has worked against Baby G health-wise.

6: We still have Little G to think about. Rest when the baby rests? Hard to do when your 3½-year-old is knocking on the nursery door, eager to play just as we’re eager to nap alongside the baby.

7: But to end on a positive note … we know, from past experience, that this tiring time is temporary. In another few weeks, Baby G will be sleeping more soundly at night (hopefully!). And we should have figured out our new routine, our new rhythm for this new chapter in our life together, as a family of four.

Baby G Has Arrived!

Friends, I’m very happy to share that my family and I welcomed Baby G into the world this past Friday, February 6. She turned 1 week old today. She’s a sweet, sweet girl, and we’re very much in love with her.

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Since her arrival, I’ve been busy taking care of her and being available as much as possible for our older daughter, Little G, too. So I’ll do my best to post a new piece here every week for the next couple of months or so … although if you don’t hear from me for a bit, you’ll know why: my new baby love. ❤

Looking forward to staying connected. 🙂

My Hospital Bags Are Packed

Baby G will be arriving any day now, and I just finished packing my hospital bags—a grand total of four.

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A small suitcase for me, and a diaper bag for Baby G. I used this helpful list from BabyCenter to guide my packing of these two bags. (P.S. Vera Bradley, one of my favorite brands, carries these festive yet highly functional, high-quality diaper bags. You often can find discontinued designs at delightful markdowns, as I did several months ago with this Suzani pattern. The best places to check for these bargains are the Vera Bradley website and discount stores like Stein Mart.)

The black bag in the back right is my Medela Pump In Style Advanced breastpump. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to nurse Baby G fairly smoothly. But just in case I run into any trouble (as I did with newborn Little G), I’ll have my trusty breastpump on hand to help stimulate breastmilk production.

And that cheery pink bag? Several friends, as well as my OB/GYN, encouraged me to get a present for Little G from Baby G. What a sweet idea! Earlier this week, I picked out some Frozen figurines as Baby G’s gift to her big sister. I think Baby G chose well; Little G loves acting out stories and scenes with “little people” like these.

My next blog post here very well may be Baby G’s birth announcement … stay tuned, friends! 🙂

Baby G’s Hand-Me-Down Nursery, With Some New Turquoise Touches

With Baby G’s due date approaching, my hubby and I just finished transforming our guest room/home office into her nursery. Come take a look. And, I hope my bargain-hunting tips help you save some $$ in your own nursery project!

The room, before …

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The room, now …

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Luckily, we were able to repurpose so much from when Little G, now 3½, was a baby, including big-ticket items such as the crib, glider, and double dresser. So Baby G will be living it up in a hand-me-down nursery, with a few new elements.

You may notice that the finishes of the hardwood differ on the crib and dresser. My mother-in-law kindly gifted us with the solid oak crib, which she found on an excellent sale at a baby boutique in Dallas. Meanwhile, I discovered the Ethan Allen dresser for just $200 on Craigslist here in San Antonio. These high-quality pieces of furniture were simply too good to pass up, despite their mismatched finishes. I’ve tried to minimize their differences by situating them on opposite sides of the nursery.

In addition to her older sister’s hand-me-downs, I incorporated some fresh touches into Baby G’s nursery. An inspiring starting point was this turquoise-colored Sea Glass Lamp, which Little G and I stumbled upon at Pier 1 ($40 on sale that day, originally $50).

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The colors for Little G’s nursery (now toddler bedroom) are pink and yellow, and I wanted to work with a different color scheme for Baby G. The calming blue/green of this turquoise lamp struck me as perfect, especially when paired with pink. I knew we’d be reusing a lot of pink products from Little G’s babyhood: blankets, burp cloths, Breathable Mesh Crib Liner. So turquoise and pink it became for Baby G.

Soon after, I was delighted to find this turquoise-and-pink Claudia Medallion Crib Fitted Sheet at Pottery Barn Kids, also on sale (just $10 with free shipping that day—yes, I’m a shameless bargain hunter!). I love the hearts in this Moroccan-toned design. I added another on-sale sheet to my online shopping cart (plus we have several sheets from Little G), so now we’re good to go on bedding.

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Above the crib is a cross with a turquoise stone (coincidentally) in the middle—a gift from good friends two Christmases ago. The cross represents my hope that Baby G’s life will be a joy-filled one, and reminds me of the beauty of friendship.

Another new element was this Turquoise Framed Chalkboard with Burlap Banner from Hobby Lobby ($20 on sale, $40 originally). I still need to borrow some chalk from Little G to write Baby G’s name on it. In the meantime, I think it offers cheery, whimsical décor to that corner wall.

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By the way, that chocolate-colored glider … possibly the comfiest chair I’ve ever sat in. I believe you can still find it on Amazon, here. A friend made the accompanying pink blanket before Little G was born, and I’ve had that pillow for more than 15 years now. It reads, “Best friends are we, my sister and me”—a gift from my younger sister to me. I don’t think she’ll mind that I’m passing it along to my daughters.

Speaking of mementos from years past … the stuffed pink pig you see here, peeking out of that basket, was a gag gift from my hubby to me back in the early 2000s. Yes, I still have it after all this time! Still have the hubby, too. 🙂 The basket is new, though: $20 on sale, $40 originally, at World Market. It’s deep enough to hold a lot of toys, yet has more panache than the see-through Sterilite containers I use in Little G’s playroom.

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A sweet friend kindly hosted a cozy diaper shower for me (and Baby G!) this past Saturday morning. Over warm drinks and muffins, she and other friends thoughtfully made sure I had plenty of diapers before Baby G’s arrival—including this diaper cake, which is almost too adorable to take apart. I’m so thankful for all the love that awaits Baby G.

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After the shower, I finished washing some of Little G’s old clothes, along with some new ones. (Gymboree is in the midst of its semiannual sale—up to 75 percent off!) Using the dresser’s built-in dividers, I organized the outfits into sizes (1) newborn, (2) 3 months, and (3) 3-6 months. We’ll see how long things stay so tidy …

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Meanwhile, the closet is assisting with additional storage for more outfits as well as wipes, blankets galore, and odds and ends.

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Baby G, we’re ready for you, and we’re so excited to meet you soon!