My first baby. Clara Josephine. We were inseparable. She made me a mother and I gave her as much of myself as I could. It wasn't until her birth that my life started making sense. It seemed as if 100% of the love I had to give was now given. And then, when she was only 11 months old, I discovered that I was pregnant again.
I was both excited and scared. I loved the newborn phase and wanted to snuggle a new sweet baby again. I knew that we wanted our family to grow. But, as many American families are, we were already stretched thin with multiple jobs and many responsibilities. I worried about the logistics of adding another member to our family.
Most importantly, I dealt with a lot of anxiety about whether I would be able to love my second baby as I had loved my first. I already felt that every drop of love that I had to give away was given. Would I have to love my Clara less to create some space in my heart for this new baby? Is this fair to my first daughter to have to give up some of the attention and love that she deserves? She will only be 19 months old when the baby is born. Would I simply have nothing left to give and feel distant or unattached to my second baby?
How could I share myself with not only one tiny human, but two?
As the pregnancy progressed, I developed a bond with my baby in utero. One that I didn't have with my first pregnancy. This was very comforting. But I still had some fear about how that bond and attachment would play out when both of my children were in my arms. In addition to the already anxious and guilt-ridden mother that I had become, my pregnancy hormones had caused my breast milk to completely dry up. Clara, who I had nourished since her birth, was now denied that nourishment and comfort simply because I found myself expecting again. I didn't think it was fair to her. Talk about mom guilt, right?
I spent a lot of time during this pregnancy doing special activities with my Clara since I knew that we may not get the chance to do things like that alone again. We took swimming classes, music classes, and I tried to spend as much quality time with her as I could. She was too young to understand the ways in which her life was going to change.
Just when I thought she would never come, my baby was born. And it actually happened. There was love to give!
The moment I saw her I knew it would all be okay. It was a very hard labor and the relief of having my baby in my arms, and my 19 month old daughter by my side while stroking her sister's face was all I ever wanted. My heart opened a second time and a new life entered.
As it turns out, I didn't need to deprive Clara of my love. And my new baby, Jane, was still loved as much as she ever could be. Somehow, it just works. I have found that I love them in completely different ways. Clara was my first baby. She made me a mother and without her I would be nothing. She needs me and I need her. Jane and I are kindred spirits. We experienced that pregnancy and birth together and I think we both grew to love each other through those experiences. When I look into her eyes, I can see into her heart.
I need Clara. I know Jane.
I'm writing this story for the mothers who are pregnant with their second baby or are thinking about adding to their families. I want them to know that if their experience looks similar to mine, that it's okay and I think it's normal. I can't wait for you to be holding those new babies and come back and tell me, "You were right!".