My postpartum experience with Drum was very different from that with Mo, mostly in good ways.
1. I got 12 weeks off instead of 6 weeks. Actually I went back part-time at 10 weeks and did that for a month before diving in full-time. The extra time made a world of difference. I think it's always hard to go back after a maternity leave, but when I went back 6 weeks after having Mo, I was not ready in any way. In fact, I think it was insane that I went back when I did, maybe even dangerous to my physical and mental health. The extra time with Drum, while still not enough, allowed me to get through the worst of things before piling on work.
2. I didn't have postpartum depression. I did have some anxiety early on this time - as soon as the sun would set each evening, I would start to panic (and I had a November baby, so the sun set VERY early!). Night time with Mo was really hard too, it's very isolating and lonely when you're awake and struggling with a baby. But with Mo I also had some depression that made it hard to function at all. With Drum, there were hormones and emotions and some crying, but it was the "baby blues," as they say, not depression, and it made a big difference.
3. I didn't get sick. When Mo was born, I got some viral infection that broke me down. I couldn't even move. Literally, it was a struggle to get out of a chair by myself. I had the normal amount of fatigue and weariness with Drum, but no virus that took me out completely.
4. Breastfeeding was so much easier. SO. MUCH. EASIER! I think I'm still a little scarred by how difficult breastfeeding was in the beginning with Mo. But while breastfeeding was a little tricky the first few days with Drum, he got the hang of it very quickly and it made more of a difference than I could have imagined. I got to just feed my baby when he was hungry. It's so simple, yet so amazing.
5. Drum was a better night sleeper sooner. The first month or so was difficult at night, but he started sleeping 4-6 hours at a time soon after that. I was only getting up once a night well before I had to go back to work. With Mo, she woke up a lot at night and was a noisy sleeper, so I was getting no sleep myself. At around 11 weeks though, she started sleeping 8-9 hours pretty consistently while Drum is still waking up at least once, but getting more sleep early on was so helpful.
So after Mo, I was deeply sleep deprived, sick to the point of immobility, and depressed. Feeding my baby was a heartbreaking ordeal every time. And then I had to go back to work before any of these things were really resolved. It was absurd. With Drum I was tired, a little emotional, and often frustrated, but I was functioning. Feeding my baby was as simple as feeding my baby. And I had more time to mentally, physically and emotionally prepare to return to work. It was still hard, having a baby is hard, but I had the perspective of my experience with Mo. In the weeks after having Drum I remember thinking, oh this is how it can be. I had no idea.
But there were a few things that made Drum a little more difficult than Mo.
1. Napping. I know Mo wasn't a great napper and she didn't nap independently for 2-3 months, but I don't remember this being a major issue. Drum, however, really makes us work for it. For the first 9 weeks I dreaded nap time. I would have to bounce him on the exercise ball the whole time. I would spend 45 minutes getting him to fall asleep, and the second I stopped bouncing, he'd wake up and we'd start all over. It was so draining. We still hold him for all of his naps, but now he falls asleep and stays asleep a lot more easily.
Our daycare hates that we held and still hold him for naps though. One of them even said to me, "If you make them nap independently from birth, they'll always do it." I basically told her she was nuts because how do you not hold a sleeping newborn? A sweet-smelling newborn asleep on your chest is one of life's greatest gifts. And besides, Drum did not want to nap by himself, and who could blame him? So even though his naps were a lot of work, I decided holding him was far more important than establishing good habits.
2. Gas. This kid is one of the gassiest babies I have ever encountered. My friend Robin (hi Robin!) had a gassy baby, and we spent a lot of time together during my leave, and even she was amazed at what came out of my child. It was a real problem for a long time because it caused him so much distress, and he was clearly in pain much of the time. We tried everything - tummy massages, bicycling and lifting his legs, the Windi, gas drops, gripe water, the Happy Tummi, probiotics, laying him on his belly, making sure he ate at the right angle and not too quickly and with a good latch so he wouldn't swallow air. Eventually we got pretty good at relieving the gassiness, but we never found a way to prevent it. The fact is, we need to just wait for his digestive system to mature. I did recently decrease my dairy intake, and it's maybe making a difference, but mostly I think his gut is just working better as he grows. He's still gassy, but less so than he was, and it doesn't upset him as much as it did.
3. Agitation. The best word we could find to describe Drum as a little baby was discontent. He was not one to just chill - he was always agitated, wiggling around, fussing. He didn't cry much, but he was clearly not enjoying life. We thought it was sad that this tiny baby only knew a life of discomfort. I wouldn't call him colicky because I've heard about colic and this didn't seem quite so extreme. But between the gas and the discontentment and the not napping, it was certainly trying.
4. He has a sister. When Mo was a baby we only had to take care of her, there were no other children to figure into the equation. Having to navigate the whims of a baby plus the craziness of a 3 year old is truly exhausting. It's enough to make me think anyone who has more than 2 kids is downright crazy!
At 3.5 months old now, things have improved. Drum still naps in our arms (and only takes cat naps on his own at daycare), but I know soon enough he'll stop doing that altogether and I'm in no rush. I'll hold my baby as long as I can. He still has digestion issues, but nothing concerning and it's much more manageable. And he's no longer very agitated. I think now that he can control his arms a little better and sit up a bit, he can participate in the world more actively and that makes him happy.
So overall, while each postpartum experience had its challenges, I would take my second experience over my first any day!