Yes, the thought of having a second child in a few months is terrifying: the lack of sleep, the lack of finances, and… the lack of sleep. I am already feeling the calming effects of having made it through this once, however. I know that at some point our youngest child will sleep more than 1.5 hours in a stretch. I know that when that happens, my real personality will wrestle its way back from the weeping zombie woman I leave in charge during long periods without rest.

I know my family will experience more moments of pure joy together than we can ever count, or remember… because of the sleep deprivation.

That said, I have every intention of making this second infancy as easy on all of us as possible. I plan to do away with all noble notions of “parental instincts” – a misleading term – and, “toughing it out.” First-time-mom-me was way too hard on herself in so many ways.

I wish I could go back in time, force her to take a nap, and convince her that everyone, including the baby, will be much better off if she stops trying to live up to some unattainable standard of mommyhood.

This time, I vow to do just that, and promise myself that I will not skimp on the following:

1 | Maternity Leave

I now realize what a luxury it is to have a job that offers me any time off whatsoever, and I plan to take every single moment of both paid and unpaid leave that I can. With baby number one, I convinced myself that I needed to get back to work a full two weeks early, due to having an unusually demanding boss at the time. Not this time, whatever it takes.

2 | Pumping Bra

Somehow, with baby number one, I could not justify spending over $15 on what is arguably the most important contraption of early motherhood, the hands-free pumping bra. I told myself I would not be using it forever, and that I should get whatever was cheapest. I ended up with this crazy elastic contraption that frustrated me each of the hundreds of times I had to use it. Pumping is bad enough. This time, I’m getting the best.

3 | Physical Therapy

I have a weak hip from long-distance running. With the last delivery my old injury was exacerbated, and I was left with an unusual amount of hip pain anytime I took a walk during my recovery. My family doctor told me it would take at least eight weeks postpartum for things to “feel normal” again. I believed him. My hips did not. My sports doctor then sent me to physical therapy, and my therapist said I should have been in there six weeks after baby. This time, I will listen to my body and get the right help, right away.

4 | Calls to the Pediatrician

I remember having this internal struggle each time I went to call the pediatrician. I felt I shouldn’t have to because I’m the mother and the mother is supposed to know everything. That, I now know, is a huge fallacy. I also remember feeling a sense of relief wash over me each time I spoke to baby number one’s doctor. Most of the time just hearing the words “that’s completely normal” changed the entire course of our day. Get ready doc. With baby number two, I will be calling you a lot.

5 | Alone Time

Even when my amazing family and friends came by to help last time, I felt the need to play hostess. This is a common problem with new moms. I was excited to show off the baby and I wanted to seem like I had things figured out. I’d end up wasting potential guilt-free nap or shower time hanging out with my guests, but they weren’t there to hang with me! They were there to hang with the baby and give me a break. This time, I’ll take it.