Yesterday, we talked about how I had to stretch to become a mother. Today, I look at my fear that my love wouldn’t stretch when we added our second child to the family.
The same friends I had to usher me in to motherhood were also the ones assuring me that becoming a mother the second time was completely different than the first. You may have the nuts and bolts of motherhood figured out by the time your second came around, but it still wasn’t easy. Some women struggle with the juggle of two people needing their time, but I struggled more with two boys needing my heart. I loved the quicker pace of having two children, and we suddenly felt like a real-life-grown-up family. But, it took longer for me to get to know my sweet hearted second boy.
Noah and I were best buddies. We navigated the landscape of living in Charlotte, and he was the perfect fuzzy-headed buffer when meeting new people. I knew his rhythms intimately, and I grew to really appreciate his company. It was nearly impossible to imagine loving another child as fiercely as I did Noah. If I had another baby, would I be able to stretch my love to cover two children?
But, as these things can tend to go, by the time Noah turned 15 months old I was expecting again.
My second pregnancy was worlds different than my first. I lived in one place. My doctor prescribed Zofran the moment the pregnancy test turned positive, which saved me months of uncontrolled severe morning sickness. I was very busy chasing after Noah. I didn’t have the anxiety that accompanied my first pregnancy, because I simply didn’t have time to pour over medical information and pregnancy books.
It was that same dearth of time that pricked my heart and birthed my questions of loving another child. Would having another baby divide my affection? Would there be enough to go around?
We found out Cooper was another boy very early and very unexpectedly. We went in for a non-routine ultrasound at about 14 weeks, and we asked the technician if she’d take an early peek at the gender. She made an educated guess and pretty much assured us we were baking a tiny brother for Noah.
The pregnancy went by so quickly–and being so busy with mothering Noah, pregnancy itself was completely different the second time around. It was far less all-encompassing and much more just part of my life.
And, then Cooper came. His birth was the most laid back, peaceful, wonderful of all four of our babies. I was only at the hospital for about an hour and a half before Cooper was born. I remember listening to Wonderwall on the iPod and our midwife reading Twilight out in the hall. The whole experience was a true gift after a hard first birth. I would have had a billion babies if they all came as sweetly as Cooper.
I was up and moving around very quickly after Cooper’s birth, and was actually discharged from the hospital less than 12 hours after he was born. I needed virtually no recovery time–which was the sweetest gift.
I was still a gloppy mess of emotions. I cried a lot and about everything. But, this time, it didn’t scare me as much, because I understood that the heavy and deep feeling would pass within a few weeks.
To be fair, I loved Cooper immediately. But, I loved him because I knew I was supposed to. I loved him by virtue of being my son. In a lot of ways, I loved Cooper because I saw the love Noah had for him.
I didn’t feel the same intimate “I’ve known you forever” connection that I felt after having Noah. I didn’t get to log hours staring at his sweet face. Sweet Cooper logged a lot of time in the Baby Bjorn or bouncy seat while I chased after Noah, who was a crazy climber by that point.
I remember confessing to Mike a few weeks after Cooper was born that I was worried I’d never feel connected to him like I did Noah. I felt guilty even entertaining those thoughts, let alone actually feeling them and verbalizing them to the father of these boys.
It wasn’t until Cooper was about 9 months old and had begun to develop a little personality of his own that I really felt equally attached to both boys. I had always had a strong affection for Cooper and I had a deep feeling of responsibility for him, but I finally began to know him and feel bonded and connected.
And now, it’s as if those early fears of not loving another child as much as my first never even existed. I couldn’t adore Cooper more if he paid me a million dollars and took me on a vacation to the moon. Even if it took me a bit of time to feel intimately connected with Coop, it is true that love is multiplied with each child and never divided.
The most important thing I would want to say to a new mom of two children is this…don’t rush it. Don’t feel panicked if it doesn’t feel the same this time around. Don’t feel guilty if you feel different things for this new person. That’s normal. Your feelings will follow what you already know to be true. You already know that you deeply love this child. You already know that you’d lay your life down for them without a second thought. You already know that they make your family way cooler.
You may be struggling with the logistics of two kids. You may be struggling with the reality that there are so many needs to be met every day. Maybe you’re wondering what you got yourself into by disrupting the good thing you had going with one child.
But hear me say this, love is always multiplied and never divided as you add children to your family. Time is finite, but love is not bound. Your feelings are going to catch up to what you know to be true, and it’s going to be great.
Do you have more than one child? What was your experience going from one to two?