Listen, mama. I know you’re scared to have another baby.
You’re heartachingly worried for your first. You know you won’t be able to spend enough time, give enough affection, be enough. You’re worried that he won’t understand why everything changed, why his Mommy is leaving him to be someone else’s. You love that bond that you have – just the two of you – your heart aches just thinking that that will change, which then leaves you feeling guilty for the new baby, too.
How could you possibly love this little one as much as your first? You have already given your entire heart to his big brother, he will just be getting whatever bits you can make room for. You won’t be able to spend days in bed, nursing and soaking in every piece of his perfect, new little being. You’re now juggling more and he won’t get as much of you as his big brother did.
No matter what, you’re never going to be enough to love either of these babies as much as they deserve. That thought alone is enough to terrify and break your heart.
Girlfriend, I get it. My first was seven months old when I got pregnant with his brother, and my middle was only eight months old when I got pregnant with our third.
The guilt and fear were suffocating. It sent me into a tailspin for years, desperately trying to water myself down so my touch and time and love could stretch further. But, when the inevitable crash of exhaustion finally hit, when the guilty tears finally stopped, the clarity came.
The transition of building a family is just the beginning of the incredibly unjust, enriching lessons that come with life.
Life is never fair. It’s never fair for any of us, which somehow makes it so. None of us will ever have everything that we want, exactly how and when we want it. As much as you strive to see your children happy, they aren’t immune to that reality either. They can’t refuse their veggies and have dessert, they can’t steal toys and still have friends. And they can’t have the love, friendship and companionship of a sibling without adapting, without learning that being a part of a family means being a part of a team – embracing the beautiful realities of compromise and sharing, developing empathy, respect and humility.
The job of a parent isn’t solely to protect our children. It is to prepare them. To teach them how to be self-sufficient people that can both accept and give love and respect. The lessons that are inherently learned by welcoming and nurturing a growing family are ones that will serve your babies for the entirety of their lives. Just like the relationships they get to share.
Oh and just in case you forgot, mothers aren’t regular people. Motherhood unlocks a whole other portion of our nature, where our capacity for pain, exhaustion and love knows literally no bounds. You will fall madly in love with your new baby, exactly as you did the first time, without losing a single ounce of the love you have for your first. You will learn how to prioritize your time and energy, develop a routine and along the way, probably surprise yourself with how incredible you really are.
Don’t worry about your little one. The bond of a sibling is one that will be cherished through their life and multiply the love in their hearts, just like it did in yours.
Mommy’s Inside Voice is a biweekly column by Amie Jay, a local mother of three.