There were many, many days when I wasn't sure that I would make it through the end of the week, let alone the end of her first year of life. I cried a lot. I paced the hallway in the middle of the night with a baby who refused to sleep while tears streamed down my face. The exhaustion was so crippling, so debilitating, that I wasn't sure I would be able to face another day. There were nights (so. many. nights.) during which I didn't sleep more than three hours. Once, after four months straight of Rose never sleeping longer than 45 minutes at a stretch, I understood why women abandoned their children. It felt, in that moment, as though I would never, ever, have a baby who slept through the night.
In some ways, second time parenthood is easier. You know what you need, what works for you, and that the time of exhaustion and leaky boobs and colic is finite. You know that all too quickly, the baby stage will be over and you'll have moved on to a different milestone that's difficult in its own way, but that does allow you longer stretches of slumber. In very simple terms, that's what second time parenthood has going for it. What makes it harder, so very much harder, is that you also have another child for whom you must be present.
When your second baby is a surprise, and so close in age to your first baby that people ask you with a straight face if they are twins, you also have to contend with the reality that your older child will be home with you and the new baby all day long. I remember the first months of the Muffin Man's life, when I didn't have to do anything except nurse, and sleep and maybe do some dishes if the filth had finally reached its limit. Yes, I was exhausted and my lady parts hurt, and I didn't have a freaking clue what I was doing, but ultimately I wasn't really expected to do much. This round of the parenting rodeo was so different.
Noah didn't care how little I slept or how much my nipples hurt, he still wanted and expected me to be the Mommy I was prior to producing the small and annoying thing we kept referring to as his sister. When your primary job title is "Mother" you don't get maternity leave.
Ironic, I know.
I really and truly wasn't sure if I would make it through the first year without a stay (or two) in the looney bin. I wish I could tell you how I did it - I suspect it was mostly due to caffeine, wine, and a very helpful spouse - but I'm damn proud of myself.
I survived, my kids don't seem to be too psychologically damaged, and I'm still married. All in all I'd say a job well done.
However, if you suggest that I have another child I will cut you.