How We Prepared for Baby #2

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Spoiler alert – if you’re reading this then we have had our second baby. It was not something that we announced or were very public with.  In fact, hubby’s family didn’t even find out until the little one was born; but that’s a story for another day.

Both of our pregnancies were planned. And because conceiving took a lot longer than we anticipated (thanks to “unexplained infertility”) we had time to prepare.

We used that “extra time” to get our toddler prepared for a sibling. I didn’t want 2 kids in diapers so we potty-trained our daughter and moved her into a big girl bed.  Not only did that save us money on diapers but we also don’t need a second crib; another money saving move.

Using what we had learned with our first child and where we are currently in our lives, here is how we prepared for baby #2.  If you’re planning on having little ones of your own, hopefully, this list helps.

Personally Preparing for Baby #2

Having a baby is a big deal and from what I’ve found, not very many people talk about how to prepare for this milestone personally.  And although having one little one is an adjustment, having a second is proving to be even more of an adjustment.  

I’ve heard that the leap from one to two kids is tougher than from two to three.  But we aren’t planning on having any more little ones, so I will take other people’s word on that one.

So here are a few ways that I personally prepared my mind and body for baby #2.

Therapy

One of the things I did before I got pregnant was started going to therapy again.  I had been to therapy off and on for years but it had been at least a decade since I talked to someone professionally.

Being pregnant during a pandemic was not easy emotionally.  

Going to therapy was one of the best decisions I made.  

Not only did therapy help me get through the pandemic, but I’m also working with a therapist who specializes in maternal health (both pre and post-natal care).

According to a 2018 study conducted by the government of Canada, 23% of moms who have recently given birth report having feelings consistent with postpartum depression or anxiety. I would argue that this number is probably lower than reality due to underreporting. And it is probably much higher for any mom having a little one during a pandemic.

With my first little one, I would never have thought to mentally prepare for the postpartum period, but doing so has made the transition easier. 

Nobody ever talks about how emotionally and mentally hard the postpartum period is.  Working with a psychologist who specializes in maternal health hasn’t changed any of the emotions and hormones that I’m dealing with.  But it gives me someone to talk to about it that understands the situation.

Work Out

Before we had our first little one I was the fittest I had ever been in my life.  I truly believe that helped me throughout my pregnancy and labour.

Being that our second pregnancy was planned and not a surprise, I had time to work out between pregnancies.  Conceiving took longer than we had anticipated which gave me more time to strengthen my body prior to getting pregnant a second time.

Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down my working out plans so I wasn’t as fit as I would have like to have been. But I did my best to stay as active as I could and once again believe that helped throughout my pregnancy and recovery after.

Preparing for Baby #2 – Parental Leave

A lot has changed in terms of parental leave since we had our first little one.  Not only are the government benefits different, but both mine and hubby’s collective bargaining agreements have also changed. We now have access to benefits that we didn’t the first time.

Government Benefits

Starting in March 2019, non-birth parents now have access to either 5 weeks or 8 weeks (depending on which plan you select – standard or extended) of parental leave that doesn’t affect the leave of the other parent.

That means that I can take a full year of leave and hubby can also take 5 weeks without affecting my leave.  The catch is, that if hubby doesn’t take his 5 weeks, I can’t take them either, use it or lose it.

From my experience with new parents, I think this is one of the most under-utilized government benefits. So many parents to be that I chat with have no idea that this even exists.

With our first child, we decided to share parental leave which meant that I went back to work early. Now, with our second we plan on sharing parental leave again but I won’t have to go back to work as early or hubby can take longer due to the extra 5 weeks the government is offering.

Deciding to split parental leave is a big financial decision for us because hubby makes substantially more than I do. And would therefore have a much-reduced income on parental leave. But being the planner than I am, we had a plan for that, more on that below.

Work Benefits

The big difference in work benefits for me this time around is that my collective bargaining agreement now covers the cost of my health benefits for the duration of my 12-month maternity leave.  

With my first little one, this wasn’t the case and I had to pay back the cost of my benefits once I returned to work. This isn’t a huge amount, but every little bit adds up.

One of the biggest changes since the birth of our first little one is the change to hubby’s work benefits.  Hubby now has access to a parental leave wage top-up for 20 weeks, even as the father. His company has a very inclusive benefits package that we are so grateful for.

His top-up is not 100%, but any income top-up is better than nothing. I applaud hubby’s company for creating an environment that encourages non-birth parents to take time off with their new families.

This top-up also lessens the financial impact of hubby taking parental leave.  Because of this, we decided that hubby would take the first 14 weeks off with me to help with the transition. A little planning can go a long way.

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Financially Preparing for Baby #2

Children can have a huge financial impact on the family’s finances.  Thankfully both of our pregnancies were planned and therefore gave us time to prepare financially in advance. And due to the long conception time, we had extra time to financially prepare for both of our little ones.

Another advantage we had with preparing for baby #2 was that we already had a lot of the big baby items.  There was very little we needed to purchase for this new little one. And because most of our friends were already done having their kids we were also able to benefit from hand-me-downs.

Cash Cushion

When we decided to share parental leave the first time we sat down and made a list of all the big expenses that would come up during that time.  We are regular spending trackers (not big on a rigid budget) and we like to pay things annually rather than monthly if we can. 

So this time, we looked at the time that we would both be off and have decreased incomes and came up with a list of all of our irregular expenses.  Once we came up with an amount we then added a buffer for comfort and started saving.

We put all our savings in our high-interest savings account at EQ bank and just kept adding to it until we hit our savings goal.

Now that our little one is here, we can use that money as needed to pay for our expenses throughout our shared parental leave. 

This cash cushion is our sleep at night fund. No matter what happens over the next few months we know that we have the money to cover whatever expenses come up.

And if we don’t end up needing all of our savings for whatever reason then we can invest that money once hubby is back to work full time. 

Tips for Preparing for a Baby

Whether you are preparing for your first baby or third, here are five tips to help you feel prepared.

  • Seek out someone to talk to. Whether it’s a psychologist who specializes in maternal health, or a trusted friend or family member, create a plan to talk to someone.  The newborn stage is hard and having someone you can reach out to is important.
  • Look into your work benefits. Does your work have an income top-up program? Are your health benefits covered while on leave? What other perks does your employer offer for new parents?
  • Calculate your government parental benefits. How much can you expect to receive each week? Can you live off of this amount or do you need to save more in advance?
  • Look into sharing your parental leave. There are extra weeks of parental leave available for the non-birth parent.  This is a use it or lose it scenario.  If the non-birth parent does not access the leave, the birth parent can’t.
  • Track and calculate your expenses.  Start saving in advance so build yourself a cash cushion.  Even if you don’t end up needing it, just having it will help relieve stress and help you sleep at night.

Preparing for Baby #2 – Final Thoughts

Now that my little one is here it reminds me that no matter how prepared I thought I was this little guy has his own agenda.  You can never be truly prepared for a child. They are unpredictable and don’t come with an owner’s manual.

But by trying to be prepared in advance I’ve been able to decrease stress in certain areas of my life so that I have more mental capacity to deal with tough times.  And when this little one is up crying for 3 hours in the middle of the night, I need all the mental capacity I can get to get through the night.

If you have any tips for preparing for baby #2 please post them in the comments, new parents can use all the help they can get.

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