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Parenting Perspectives: Here comes Baby No. 2

Welp, here we go again.

The seemingly sleepless nights. The dirty diapers. The spit-up and the "what-the-heck-is-wrong?" screams. Yes, it's back to baby time.

My wife is 20 weeks pregnant, so we're expecting our second child to be born sometime in mid-May.

Really, I'm thrilled. As the father of a 3-year-old little girl, I've realized parenting is pretty cool. But it's only gotten really fun since Grace turned 2, when she was potty trained and could verbalize to us what she was thinking and wanted.

Babies — well, they're just, babies, so I'm beginning to prep my mental state for Baby No. 2.

When Grace was born, I learned early and often that taking care of an infant is downright draining, both emotionally and physically. So many of your freedoms are taken away — sleep, mostly.

To any first-time expecting parents out there, here's what worked for us.

Babies typically get into a pattern, so take overnight duties in shifts. Mom gets the 1 a.m. wake-up feed and Dad gets the 4:30 morning call. Any wildcard wake-ups between or after are a toss-up and involve a lot of debate, usually quite a bit of grumbling and then someone finally gets out of bed.

The saying goes, "Sleep when they sleep." The second time around, I'm going to follow that rule better.

Now, to me, diaper duty isn't that gross. It's a given and one of those expected jobs of taking care of a baby. Dirty diaper? Get it done and move on. But, man, the smells and colors that can come from those little people are astonishing. And the frequency is simply amazing.

It always seems like the loudest rumbles and most-awful diapers are filled at the worst possible time.

Like the time I was at a funeral, while holding my then-1-month-old daughter, in a silent church room. Yep — just a little embarrassing when all eyes turn your way.

There's no doubt you learn to handle life's adverse moments better when you become a parent and raise a baby. Who knows? Maybe it's because you're so exhausted that you can be calm and collected when something goes haywire.

But maybe it's because there are so many at-peace moments with those little ones. The middle-of-the-night cuddles. The awesome one-sided conversations telling your child how great they'll grow up to be and how you want to give the world to them.

This tiny child is only going to be little for a little while. The bonding moments when you've got a bottle and they look into your eyes are something from above.

The little giggles and smiles.

Oh, man. Bring on the sleepless nights and messy diapers. I'm going to soak these memories up. Here we go again.

Luke Hagen is the managing editor of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, S.D., and father to 3-year-old Grace.