Baby & Toddler

I’m Way Too Lax with Baby #2

I’d heard of Second Kid Syndrome long before Baby Two was on my radar. I thought, “I won’t be that lax with the second kid.” Then I had him. Last week. And instead of a fully-prepared diaper bag, I took a plastic shopping bag to his first pediatrician visit.

It’s early onset Second Kid Syndrome. You probably know what I’m talking about. Symptoms of SKS include a much calmer approach to having an infant. Instead of giving my son a full bath and new pair of pajamas as soon as the smallest droplet of spit-up hits his footie, I wipe it away as best I can and declare the PJs’ condition good enough.

I didn’t think SKS would hit me so quickly, but the day after we brought our son home from the hospital, there it was in full force. When Ellie was born two and a half years ago, we spent hours the night before her first doctor appointment packing and repacking her diaper bag. Did we have enough diapers? What about a bottle? An extra burp cloth? Wait! Did someone remember to put wipes in the wipes case?

And this was for a 10-minute drive each way.

Jared had to go to the doctor the day after we were released from the hospital because he’d lost too much weight during our stay. Literally five minutes before we were walking out the door, my mother-in-law said, “Don’t you have a bag to take with you?”

Um, no.

I grabbed a couple impossibly small diapers, an entire pack of Kirkland wipes (to heck with the fancy wipes case), a bottle and threw it all into the first bag I could think of: a plastic Target bag. Rearranging the Lululemon bag that I use to tote Ellie’s stuff would have taken too long.

The bag thing was an extreme, but I must say that this more relaxed attitude toward child-rearing is pretty darn nice. When my husband first returned to work after Ellie’s birth, I freaked out. What would I do if I had to pee and Ellie was crying? What would I do if she spit up and I couldn’t suction it out? This time around, I know it was OK to put Jared down and take a bathroom break. He won’t drown in his tears if I make him wait a second while I check that Ellie secured her safety belt after climbing into her booster seat. And when he spits up, I just clean his face–and my shirt. And the floor. And the couch.

The harder thing to deal with is Ellie, who isn’t quite clear on why I can carry Jared around, but I can’t lift her for another four weeks, thanks to the C-section. Making sure that she knows I haven’t replaced her has taken some time, but she gets it. She hugs me with her tushy pushed back, saying, “See? I’m not touching the boo-boo on your tummy.”

I’m only a few weeks in, of course, so my laid-back outlook is subject to change, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will stick around, perhaps because of the distraction Ellie provides or maybe I am more confident in my abilities as a parent. To be safe, I dug out the Skip Hop messenger-style diaper bag I used when Ellie was an infant just to be sure I don’t get too lax.

Stephanie KanowitzStephanie Kanowitz is a mother of two who moonlights as a freelance journalist. A Florida native now living in Virginia, she has worked as a copy editor, web editor, and freelance writer and editor since earning a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida in 2000. In 2006, Stephanie earned a master's in News Media Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. She writes about arts and culture, business, fitness, real estate, and technology, and she's also done several celebrity Q&As. Stephanie also teaches Spinning classes at local gyms. It's the one time a week when she can tell people what to do without them answering back. To see her work, please visit stephaniekanowitz.com.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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