We don’t have a middle child, and aren’t planning on adding one. Our second child, our daughter is our youngest child and unless something strange happens, always will be.
She’s a baby, but we can already see differences in how we are parenting with the youngest than the oldest.
The middle of the night crying isn’t as big of a deal this time. Maybe it’s because we know now that it doesn’t last forever. Maybe it’s partly because we won’t have another baby. Whatever it is, while the zombie-like waking and getting up to care for the baby routine hasn’t changed, we aren’t afraid of it this time. We aren’t as nervous that we are doing something wrong. Babies don’t sleep at night. That’s just part of what they do. Rather than being exhausting or overwhelming this time, it just is what it is.
We’re less worried about a lot of stuff. We’ve been here before, and remember the crying, the difficulties that threw us the first time. So in many ways, the youngest child is easier.
Yet, with the youngest, and I would guess this is the same whether you have one, two or five kids, there is a sense of loss when you decide you are done. As you fold away and sell off those newborn onesies, there is a mixed sense of loss and relief. It’s odd that after six years of trying and two kids, this journey has changed – and rather than trying for more kids we are shifting focus to raise the two we have.
So with that comes a youngest child. With that youngest child comes closure on one season of life, and the slow recognition that this will be the last time for most of the baby milestones.
With that, the long nights, the crying – it’s all just different. While we didn’t take it for granted before that we would be able to have a second baby, with that second one is a sense of finality; our family is now complete.
The worries are different: there is less stress about knowing what we are doing and more about hoping that we can help the older child adapt to having a sister.
There are still the irrational fears – don’t get me wrong, they are lessened by the fact that we have already had one that has gone before her.
I think because of all of that, we savor our time with our youngest more than anything else – this baby phase is different this time, it’s more enjoyable. I take the time to take it a little more slowly.
The oldest is a learning curve – it’s harder, newer, scarier. The youngest is easier in many ways – but there is a bittersweetness about knowing there won’t be another following them.