All of that is true.
However: More or less of something does not equate to all or none of something.
Newborndom is certainly less anxious and less stressful this time around. I don't panic as easily regarding his well being. I don't worry as much because I sorta have the hang of this. I know when he's hungry, I can tell when his cries are gas, I have an idea how to teach him to nap, and I totally knew as soon as I saw his first real smile. I don't have to learn as much, so I can enjoy more.
Although I feel tremendous empathy for the first-time parents in my life who have not yet caught up to my level of experience, I still want to be completely clear:
This is not easy.
I am not one of those parents who "forgot" how hard it was. I remember the misery of newborndom. I remember walking her around the mall trying to get her to sleep. I remember standing over her bassinet with my pinky finger in her mouth for endless minutes, maybe hours. I remember the fear associated with her breastmilk intake - nipple shields, pricey consultants, painful boobs, and cold washcloths on her bare, sleepy back. I remember late-night cluster feeds, kicky gas legs, and crying on the bathroom floor (me, not her). I remember whisper-arguing with Hubby and assuming we'd be divorced by the end of the day. (He would have called a lawyer if he didn't have a sleeping baby on his lap. The survival of this marriage is attributed to a long nap and a rescue visit from @msfreshfish.)
After all of this, though, I also remember that IT GOT BETTER. I remember drinking coffee while she peacefully napped, visiting with friends, playing in the sun, smiling above her on a yoga mat.
So, when we diligently weighed the benefits and risks of a second baby, I was not operating in a hormonal or sentimental illusion. I knew precisely what I was in for. Disaster at first, and generally ongoing heartache and exhaustion in one form or another for the foreseeable future.
Until my friends confused me. They somehow convinced me this would be effortless. They claimed "It's so easy this time!" And sure, by comparison, it can be... easy - but only in relation to last time. Not standing alone.
Standing alone, this experience is just a different kind of impossibly hard. I still only get two hours of sleep at any given time, except I also have to entertain a toddler most of the day. I still have a baby who won't allow me to set him down, but I also have a toddler asking for my help to reach the soap/put her socks on/play in her tent. I still spray breastmilk all over the house, except I also spray it into my toddler's dinner. I still have to whisper and tiptoe all day long while he attempts to sleep, but I also have to make a toddler whisper and tiptoe while she attempts to
I still have the hard parts - albeit minus some of the anxiety - but with a whole other whack of shit to fill its place.
I still have to take off to the children's hospital when my infant seems to have a fever (with the same unnecessary panic attack). Except this time, I have to do it by myself while Hubby stays home with our other precious child who just wants me to tuck her in.
The constant competition between opposite emotions is staggering. Parenting is wonderful. It's bliss. It's joy. It's pride. It's a gift that we are ever-grateful for. It is an incredible satisfaction, a surprising sense of purpose, an indescribable love. But it is never easy.