Alex Vance at 7 months pregnant

Prepping for Baby Number Two Was Easier Than I Expected—Thanks to Hand-Me-Downs

I've never been much of the "decorator" type. As much as I try, my house consistently maintains an "organized chaos" vibe. It's somewhat put together, but a few decorative pillows or chic picture frames aren't going to distract from the chocolate milk stains on the carpet or the windows coated in tiny handprints.

I completely envy the moms who have it all together. I have friends whose homes look like they're torn straight out of a Joanna Gaines design book — that cozy, modern farmhouse style with rustic accents that I wish I could replicate. Even before I had kids, I had always craved the ability to add an artistic flair to living spaces, but alas, it never came to fruition.

So, when it came to prepping for baby nurseries, I wasn't quite sure where to start. I put in a pretty solid effort for my first daughter, choosing modern-style furniture and adorably soft sheets, blankets, and accessories. My husband spent the better half of a Saturday putting together the crib, I organized the mountain of baby clothes from my baby shower, chose a rocking chair, and added some framed animal prints to the walls that displayed messages about being brave and chasing dreams. It was the best my fatigued, first-time-mom brain could conjure up.

Once we found out we were having a second girl, all of our final preparations changed. We already had all of the girl stuff we needed, so what was there left to do?

And then came baby number two. Once we found out we were having a second girl, all of our final preparations changed. We already had all of the girl stuff we needed, so what was there left to do? I shunned the idea of another baby shower, mistakingly convinced that my friends would label me selfish. (In retrospect, there are always things a new parent needs—diapers, wipes, blankets, bottles—you name it.)

Not to be deterred, my parents and close family friends surprised me with a "sprinkle" at a restaurant, which, at the time, I didn't even realize was a thing. It's essentially a watered-down baby shower without all of the bells and whistles that come with a formal shower—just a casual hangout to celebrate the newest little one. (And I was very grateful for it!)

Next, it was time to plan the nursery for our second little girl—or "baby deuce," as my husband so lovingly nicknamed her. Our first daughter's transition to a toddler bed left a vacant crib in her room, so we decided to find a new location for it. There was just one problem: Where were we going to put it?

We weren't planning on having our girls share a room right away, so this posed a bit of a dilemma. We had a three-bedroom home, with a master bedroom, our daughter's room, and a guest room. "I guess we're not having guests anymore," I thought.

And that's exactly where the crib went. We shuffled the furniture around and positioned the queen-sized guest bed and end tables in a way that allowed the crib to fit without looking overly cluttered. We replaced the mattress, washed the crib sheets, set up a night light, and put out a few stuffed animals. The former guest bed became our changing table, and we added a diaper pail next to the doorway.

And that was it.

We had checked off "baby room" on our pregnancy to-do list, although there wasn't much effort involved. It wasn't that we didn't care enough to decorate, we just didn't feel the need. After all, if our first daughter taught us anything, it was that our newborn was going to sleep in a bassinet in our room for the first few months anyway.

Chasing around my rambunctious daughter certainly made my second pregnancy tough, but having a second girl certainly lightened our baby prep load. Reusing baby gear and furniture (that still met safety standards), kicking guests out of the extra room (sorry, Mom and Dad), and passing down baby clothes saved us a ton of time, stress, and headaches. Of course, buying diapers were still a necessity (and if you have any leftover from your first baby, you're already ahead of the game), but otherwise, we felt as ready and giddy as a kid gearing up for the first day of school.

While I can't say for sure whether having a boy would have changed our prep plans (maybe a potential baby number three will give us the answer!), I can say this: hand-me-downs are a lifesaver. Even if your second baby isn't the same sex, you still have the potential to use the same crib, blankets, gates, strollers, gender-neutral clothes, toys—anything that still meets the proper safety standards (it's super important to check!).

Preparing for a second little bundle of joy didn't just end up easier than I envisioned—it also taught me that changing plans to make my life easier is completely okay.

Preparing for a second little bundle of joy didn't just end up easier than I envisioned—it also taught me that changing plans to make my life easier is completely okay. I spent my second pregnancy chasing a toddler around, managing anxiety, and doing everything I could to stay healthy. It was time to cut myself some slack!

A quick transformation of the guest room definitely didn't help my already mediocre designer skills, but it was a relief not having to worry about creating the "perfect" nursery. Digging out old baby clothes wasn't as fun as buying new ones (which, don't get me wrong, I still did at times), but I knew we'd have plenty of options once the baby arrived. I felt a slight twinge of guilt when I pulled out the old, food-stained high chair (yes, I washed it), but I knew it was perfectly fine (and safe) to use, even if I did want an updated one.

After being pregnant the first time, I realized that I had overestimated my baby's needs and undervalued my own. Pregnancy is stressful enough without creating an exhaustive (and, at times, unattainable) checklist, so why not switch up your plans when you need to? After all, the only thing your baby truly needs is the unconditional love that you'll have no problem providing—and a chic nursery or brand new baby clothes won't change that.

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