by SAMMI JOHNSON

With the introduction of a second child comes the recognition of the changes in parenting. Call it growth. Call it survival. But with baby No. 2 we’re getting a grip on the realities of our parenting priorities and worries.

In typical fashion, our first baby dominated our world beginning at conception. Forty weeks of what-ifs and what-nots led to the arrival of our first born, which then led to more questions, thumbing through numerous baby books for answers and several calls to the pediatrician. But, we loved it, and did it again. Only this time, baby No. 2 receives a little different treatment. Not worse. Just different.

During my first pregnancy I pored over information about all the stages of pregnancy, labor and what to expect the first few weeks and beyond. I agonized over the perfect baby announcement, first outfits and room color. I became friendly with the local firemen, who smiled when we would ask them how to correctly install our car seat. I read how, when and what first food to prepare for her. I religiously steamed, pureed and froze ice cubes of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. I only gave her one food at a time for a week – to make sure she wasn’t allergic – before adding another food to her menu. I would read recipes from expensive baby-specific cookbooks like this:

• Place bananas on cutting board.

• Mash with a back of a fork for 90 seconds.

• The banana will be completely smooth.

• This is a non-freezing recipe.

I recall actually counting the 90 seconds of mashing.

Our second baby came almost exactly two years after our first. And I could tell right away during pregnancy it was a whole different story. After pushing through the first pukey trimester stage with relative ease, there were times I almost forgot I was pregnant! The 40 weeks flew by without opening a book, practicing my breathing or organizing baby clothes.

He arrived late, but in a hurry, just like his sister. And, luckily, he was as perfect as she was. From day one it was clear – double the baby, double the time. The second baby wouldn’t receive the same attention as baby No. 1 – simply not possible. If he did, our daughter would have scaled the walls or flushed the dog down the toilet.

There really isn’t the time with two kids to be that choosy with your time. It’s survival of the fittest and the second kid gets fit fast.

Our son is going to walk months earlier than our daughter by just trying to keep up. He defends his territory and items and vocalizes his thoughts loudly just to compete with the tornado the toddler creates.

I no longer know the firemen by name.

Turkey on rye, pancakes and steamed (not pureed) broccoli at nine months would have sent my former self into a tailspin of worry. And I look at three flashy, expensive kid cookbooks sitting on the shelf in my kitchen and chuckle.

It is fascinating to look back at the last two and half years and realize how much we can learn and experience, only to eventually pave our own way. I’m now a coffee-chugging, thick-skinned toddler negotiator, diaper aficionado, no-gag reflex momma who appreciates the road I’ve traveled and have yet to travel.

My go-to parenting tools include Google, my fellow parenting mentors and instincts. Without the time to doubt our instincts, we go for it and trust it will work out. And in our very short tenure as parents, we have done OK. My second baby is a bruiser and he has our trailblazing eldest to thank.

Sammi is a mother, wife, business owner and production and marketing coordinator at the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell. Have an idea for a column, or a story to share? Email sammi@flatheadbeacon.com.