I was confident going into the newborn phase with baby #2. I'd done it before, so everything would for sure be easier this time around. I'd get baby on a schedule, my 3-year old would adjust perfectly well, and I'd get sleep this time. Right?!
Wrong. With my second, I not only had to learn a brand new tiny human, who was nothing like my first, but my first born (age 3) went through both a giant developmental leap and a serious emotional adjustment period with the arrival of her baby brother.
The physical recovery from childbirth, and baby sleep woes were just as challenging with baby #2. In the first several weeks, baby woke up every 2-3 hours at night to feed, and nothing that we did changed that. To top it off, I was recovering from a second degree tear and managing an insane pumping schedule (since latching was a no-go for us). We responded to this insanity by loosening the schedule that we had in place for our 3-year old, in order to provide greater flexibility for us, and in an attempt to create a more relaxed dynamic at home. That totally backfired. Our 3-year old responded by refusing to sleep in her own bed; sleep deprivation exacerbated her 3-year old anxiety about having to share our attention with a brand new, crying baby that looked nothing like the baby brothers in her books.
After two weeks of parent hell, conversations with child development experts and sleep trainers, I totally turned sleep mayhem in our home around. The answer: strict eating, napping and bedtime routines for both children, and a 4-night sleep training bootcamp for the baby.
Today, we live by our kids' schedules. My biggest piece of advice to parents who are getting ready to welcome baby #2 is to stick with kid #1's structure. It's the best way to lessen their anxiety, and increase the likelihood that you'll at least get SOME sleep. My second piece of advice is to hire a sleep trainer, and get baby on a schedule ASAP. It's the best investment we've ever made.