The jump from one to two children: “I was afraid I’d used up all my love on our first baby”
You can’t ever imagine you will love someone as much as you love your first child. How could there possibly be enough room in your heart when it is already so full?
“Your love is tireless, endless and immeasurable,” my wise friend reassures me when I explain my fears that I’d used all my love up on my first baby. “There is a lot more room than you think.”
The swirl of emotions that presents themselves on your second pregnancy can catch you off guard. Suddenly, you have to start thinking of multiple bedtimes, meals, nappies, baby gear. How can you possibly divide your time and affection when you are already completely head over heels for this little toddler you know off by heart?
Unusually, we decided to have another baby pretty quickly after we had my daughter. Biology tricked us into thinking babies stay at that easy phase aged around 6 months – you know, the giggly sitting-up phase when you are finally getting enough sleep and can fit back into (some) of your old clothes.
“We’d only just come to terms with what it meant to be a little family and that was changing again.”
Before we knew it, I was heavily pregnant planning a first birthday party.
And then it hit me.
It would no longer be the three of us. We’d only just come to terms with what it meant to be a little family and that was changing again. It was transitioning so fast that I struggled to keep up with all the emotions. How would my daughter cope with having to share our love? How would we cope with another baby?
What. Were. We. Thinking.
Up until then, the new baby had just been a concept – a talking-point at the supermarket when people pointed out that I’d “have my hands full, ha, ha, ha”. (Don’t ever say this to anyone, please – especially not an exhausted, emotional mother of one-and-a-half children in the frozen food aisle of Dunnes.)
But as my due date approached I was increasingly apprehensive about the changes that were coming down the line.
Now I had a new fear — a fear about anything happening to me that could leave my child motherless. Perhaps a little melodramatic, but as I faced into my second c-section, I realised how relied upon I was going to be for two vulnerable scraps of humans.
The night before I went into hospital, I was overcome with emotion. This little girl wouldn’t be my baby anymore (despite being a complete baby who had just learnt to walk).
“How could I have questioned if I had enough love for this delicious squidge with his button nose and soft warm skin?”
Her gummy little smile was oblivious to my sentimental tears as I tucked her into her cot. “My baby,” I whispered to her, choking up as her hands instinctively reached up to mine. I studied her lovely face in the dusky light and tried imagining another version of her and failed.
All change is hard.
But undeniable joy arrived that is impossible to quell. A tiny son burst into our lives. Another monumental and yet frighteningly fragile moment.
Love and fierce protection ensued. I was now a mum of two…imagine. (And I could still dance on tables).
How could I have questioned if I had enough love for this delicious squidge with his button nose and soft warm skin? He must have felt the same because he refused to be let out of my cradling arms, mewling pitifully if I placed him down, even temporarily).
I sat in the bright white hospital, with that high-low kaleidoscope of emotions familiar to new mums. All the greeting cards, lined up neatly by my bed, said ‘Welcome’ with blue hearts and smiling bears.
He was finally here and I was bowled over with love. He even had my eyes.
And then the moment I’d fretted over for months materialised, the hospital door opened slowly and I heard her staccato footsteps before I saw her.
My little girl scrambled onto my hospital bed for a hug. Not the same little girl I had said goodbye to two days before, for her features were now much bigger beside the newest member of our family. Suspicion turned to fascination, love followed and now sole ownership. “MY brother”.
Later, once the baby dust had settled, I thought of something I’d not considered through all of this.
We’d brought her a sibling — a family member who would be there hopefully long after we had left this world. Maybe they could even look out for each other, have each other’s backs (for the big things at least) and always love each other (that love-no-matter-what sibling bond I enjoy with my own brothers). Their futures entwined, shared lives stretching out to be lived.
And as she stroked his little baby fingers in the hospital, the stark ward framing their tangled warm bodies next to mine in the bed, I was crying again, unexpected tears.
Motherhood is wild emotional trip that throws up all sorts of feelings you never knew you had… and then some.
Photography by Unsplash.