And Then There Were Two
It’s perfectly normal to be scared about the birth of your second child … but, yes, you’ll love her just as much as your first, and your first will love her just as much as you do.
When I learned I was pregnant with Emme, Olivia had just celebrated her first birthday. I was still getting used to being a mother of one, and adding another stirred all sorts of fears and emotions. Well, there were two, actually … two concerns that drowned out almost everything else. If you’re about to add number two to your growing family, read on … and take solace in knowing that 1) your feelings are completely normal, and 2) they will fade once your new bundle of joy arrives.
How will I ever love him or her as much?
Ok, look … when you’re a new mother, it’s so novel, so wonderful … you literally become a new version of yourself … it’s that powerful. When expecting mothers ask me to describe it, my standard response is, “motherhood turns you inside out and upside down, and yet leaves you utterly convinced you’ve never known anything else.” That’s the best way I know how to describe it. So, with such a tectonic shift in your life, of course you’re going to wonder how anything else could measure up! But, trust me, you have plenty of love to go around, and when you see your second born for the first time, you’ll experience a full-blown heart growth spurt, Grinch-style.
The best way to quiet your mind while you await your little one’s arrival is to do all the same things you did when you were pregnant with your first. Get excited … pick out a super-cute coming home outfit, decorate the nursery (or corner, if number one and two will be sharing a room the way Olivia and Emme had to!), and finally, just take time to relax and enjoy the feeling of carrying your new little bundle of joy! You were no doubt ecstatic when you felt number one’s very first kick, celebrate those moments just the same with number two. And, above all, trust all the other mommas out there who’ve promised you that those crazy in love feelings you felt with number one will be easily replicated with number two once he or she arrives!
How will my first react to number two… will she love her?
Ok, quick warning … sibling rivalry is real and it begins when you first bring number two home. When we brought Emme home, Olivia looked over at her as we loaded her in the car, and I swear, her expression spoke louder than any words … “what the heck is this … I thought we were just visiting this thing for a few days … WHY, oh WHY, is that thing coming home with us?!?!” Yes, it will be hard at first. Expect this! I would say the first few weeks, were probably some of the hardest we’ve ever had with Olivia. She cried, she acted out … she was confused. Wouldn’t you be? All she’d ever known was a mom and dad who focused exclusively on her, and now she had to share time, and see us loving someone else. Couple that with the fact that she was still too young to fully understand who this new little person was, or how she fit into the picture. But, over the first few weeks and months, she warmed to Emme, and now, she loves her dearly. There’ve been a few days in the last month or so that Olivia has had to stay home from daycare because she’s sick… on those mornings the two of us have taken Emme to daycare, dropped her off, and made our way back home. Out of the blue one day, as we drove away from Emme’s daycare, Olivia looked at me and said, “Mommy, Emme always come back?” Needless to say, I melted. She started asking that question pretty early on, but always with respect to mommy or daddy … her question that morning just confirmed to me that she sees Emme just as she does Jacob or me, as her family. So rest assured … that love will come.
In the meantime, how do you get through those first few weeks? Well, it’s a balance … in order to develop a bond with number two, you need to devote time to just him or her, and a newborn demands it anyhow! But, don’t get lost … make a concerted effort to carve out time for just you and your first … take him or her to the park or out for ice cream while dad watches your new addition. If you have daily or nightly rituals already (breakfast together, bath time with daddy, a nighttime story or prayer, etc.), make sure you stay on schedule! Those routine events provide stability and reassurance to number one that he or she is still just as important and just as loved.
Second, ask number one to be your little helper! Livi loves fetching diapers, helping me wash Emme in the bath, or putting lotion on her … it’s helped her realize that she’s not being replaced, she’s an integral part of our growing family! Plus, caring for her, seeing how vulnerable she is … it planted the very first seeds that eventually grew into a blossoming friendship and ultimately, sisterly love. So start planning now… come up with a list of age appropriate tasks for number one … I guarantee he or she will approach them enthusiastically!
Finally, above all, be patient. This is a process, but it’s a journey that’s been travelled by many mothers before you… and if you’re having trouble, ask for help!