The Second Child Feelings Circus
April 5, 2016
They say when your first baby is born, the mother is born as well. Everything we went through with our first was intense since we had never experiencing parenting before. The feelings of elation from when our son reached milestones to the mourning of old parts of our lives (spontaneous trips) can feel like your emotions are a big circus act. Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. It is funny when people think that having a puppy or babysitting other people's kids can prepare you, but it does not.
My second born is now 6 months old and I can tell you that I didn't think my heart could hold love for another child when I was pregnant with her. Yet, every parent with more than one child that I spoke to before my 2nd was born, swore to me that it would be possible to love another child the way you love your first. I thought this was impossible, and that it simply didn't apply to my heart.
I would say over and over to myself, they must not understand. You see, I LOVE my first born. He has given more joy beyond the imaginable. He has made my life so colorful and rich in ways I didn't know was possible. When we found out we were pregnant with our girl, I had mixed emotions. I felt like there was a countdown that was two fold - one was for the days of our time together that would vanish (one on one), and the second countdown was for the days awaiting her arrival.
My heart finally caught up to loving her the same as my first, but it took about six months for me. The day she was born, my son was with my inlaws that first night. The rush of the joy with the second child was coupled with the guilt of missing my first. I know that can sound odd and strange, but it was real. With the weeks following, I would want to make sure my boy would know how important he still was to me. I even threw him a lavish his second birthday party, 12 days post partum. And even more ridiculous of me, I went to his new school program 8 days post partum. I remember sitting slouched on the back wall and so sore from post partum awesomeness (^insert sarcasm) and watching how excited he was to be with JUST me. The thought of not experiencing this with him, was too much for me to handle at the time.
To moms who are pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, know that the heart can stretch. The heart is a big muscle and stretches remember? It can hold more love.
During the time our photos above were taken, my daughter just turned three months. I was juggling exhaustion and the circus of the day to day life with 2 kids under two. I was still getting up every 2 hours around the clock nursing her. I was still wanting to be there for my son, but I couldn't be in two places at once all the time. We hired a nanny to help out and I would even get jealous of her spending time with him. It is true. I finally had to accept that this was the new normal. Eventually, around week 8, I felt the hang of things. I felt that I carved out time to be with each child, even if for 15 minutes, alone with me. That is what really helped me out the most. I knew that the love would catch up, and it has.
This poem is word for word what I was experiencing. I wish I could provide credit to the author who wrote it. I ask you to read it now if you are pregnant with your second (or share it with a mom who is). If you already had your second child, I think you will see how honest and true it is. Thank you for stopping by!
As I hold your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship, I suddenly feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: How could I ever love another child as I love you?
Then she is born, and I watch you.
I watch the pain you feel at having to share me,
as you've never shared me before.
I hear you telling me in your own way,
"Please love only me."
And I hear myself telling you in mine,
"I can't," knowing, in fact, that I can never again.
You cry. I cry with you.
I almost see our new baby as an intruder
on the precious relationship we once shared.
A relationship we can never quite have again.
But then, barely noticing, I find myself
attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty.
I'm afraid to let you see me enjoying her. -- As though I am betraying you.
Bu then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection.
More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine.
The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast.
But something else is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just we two.
There are times--only now, we are three.
I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other.
I watch how she adores you-- as I have for so long.
I see how excited you are by each of her new accomplishments.
And I begin to realize that I haven't taken something from you, I've given something to you.
I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you.
I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong.
And my question is finally answered, to my amazement..
Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you--only differently.
And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I now know you'll never share my love. There's enough of that for both of you. -- you each have your own supply.
I love you both and I thank you both for blessing my life.