With each of my pregnancies, underneath my initial excitement and happy hugs to my husband has been a little bit of an ugly truth — I was worried that I couldn’t possibly love another baby as much as I loved my other kids.
worried about enough love for them all
When I looked down at the pregnancy test I already knew would be positive, I didn't jump for joy or call my husband excitedly with the news.
Instead, I walked out to the kitchen where my 15-month-old daughter sat eating her breakfast. I plopped down on the chair next to her and watched the early morning fog rise off of the barn where my father-in-law was doing the morning chores.
Although this pregnancy was planned and although I knew I should have been excited, I wasn't. At all.
Looking for support
I picked up my cell phone, my mind at once blank and racing frantically. I needed to talk to someone now. I called one of my best mom friends, even though ours was a more "friendly text" friendship variety. When she hesitantly answered, I promptly and predictably burst into tears.
When she could decipher through my blubbering, she tried to calm me down. I think I even heard a hint of laughter behind her words.
"Oh, honey," she said. "It's going to be fine."
Of course I knew that in theory, she was right. I knew that this pregnancy was something we wanted, even though it had happened rather quickly. And I tried to decipher just what I was feeling so upset about. Was it going through morning sickness again? Was it the fact that we lived in a walk-up apartment? Was it the strong smell of cow poop emanating wafting through the windows, making me nauseous already?
I realized that my feelings were of a much more simple nature — I was scared.
Loving a second child
More specifically, I was terrified — downright terrified — that there was no possible way I could love a second child as much as I could love my first.
My first pregnancy had been unplanned — I had gone through months of judgment, shame and guilt (mostly from myself). I had upended my entire life after the pregnancy, choosing to marry, moving and graduating college. And since my daughter had arrived, I had been mostly on my own, working two jobs while my husband finished school and worked as a volunteer football coach.
It felt like it was just my daughter and me against the world.
And I wasn't so sure I was ready for that world to end.
Gone would be the days of lazy mornings spent cuddled on the couch, eating Raisin Bran Crunch and watching the news. Gone would be the days of exploring the backyard and taking adventures out to lunch together. Gone would be the precious nap times with my girl, the favorite part of my day spent reading stories and snuggling together, watching my baby drift off to sleep and feeling my heart ache with love for her.
I felt a little reproachful to the child growing inside of me — how could this baby interrupt our special time together? Would my oldest feel jealous? Would I feel completely exhausted trying to love both of them equally?
I know that a lot of mothers feel the same way I did. It's normal and natural to wonder how the all-encompassing love that you feel for your baby can possibly expand even more.
But it will.
And for me, it definitely did.
The arrival of baby No. 2
When my second daughter was born exactly two years and two days after her big sister, I marveled in the relationship that they had together. It truly is a gift to watch them hold hands, play together and yes, even fight in their sleep. (How is that even possible?)
And although I remained scared for the duration of my entire pregnancy that I couldn't be enough or love enough to welcome a second child into our home, I am happy to report that I didn't, not even for one second, feel a moment's hesitation of love for my second child after she was born.
Instead, like all parents do, my heart truly grew even more than I could have ever dreamed and loved both of my children fiercely, equally and differently — all at the same time. I love each of their individual qualities and I especially love their relationship with each other. In some ways, it brings me comfort to think that, even if I royally screw up all other aspects of my parenting, at least I have done something right in bringing sisters into the world — because at the very least, they will always have each other.