As far back as I can remember, I always imagined myself as a mom to many. But when the pregnancy test was positive for the second time, I felt more panic than delight with my expanding family.
My son was not yet 7 months old and just slightly emerging from the high intensity neediness of his first few months of life. He didn’t nurse or sleep well (even by new baby standards) — really he didn’t do anything very well except demand to be held, by me, while I was moving, at all times. So when I realized we were adding another, I couldn’t imagine anything but drowning in two very needy babies.
So I tried to ignore my imagination and hoped the next 9 months would bring a miraculous transformation to our home. I secretly googled “babies close in age” and “how to gently sleep train a baby who is THE lightest sleeper and wants his face to be touching your face in order to go to sleep and stay asleep” at night while I rocked my oldest and my belly grew.
All day long I fielded comments like, “What’re you going to do with 2 babies?!” No idea. “15 months apart? That’s going to be so hard!” Yep. “You’re pregnant again?! Did y’all plan that?” Rude. And invasive.
I felt the fear rising around me when somebody did the math: current child spacing + years of fertility I have left = more children than the woman in the grocery store is comfortable with me having.
While it was difficult to hold space for everyone else’s discomfort with my second baby, I knew the biggest battle was against my own anxiety.
As I entered my 9th month of pregnancy, I couldn’t ignore the inevitable anymore. I could hardly rock my toddler to sleep and I definitely couldn’t bend over his crib to lay him down. I prayed every night that I wouldn’t go into labor overnight because I couldn’t imagine leaving my son, who had never spent a night away from me, in the middle of the night.
When I delivered my second baby at 6:30 pm after a 5 hour labor, half of which I spent at work, I was so grateful that my son’s routine hadn’t been disrupted. And when I brought that new baby boy home, I started to see all the ways that a miraculous transformation had already begun.
My toddler realized that his dad was actually much cooler than his mom and was happy to hang out with him all day long while boring mom sat with the boring baby. He also got to spend a lot of time playing with his grandparents who had become his very best friends. He transitioned almost seamlessly into his new sleeping arrangement at night, and started to do amazing things like fall asleep in his high chair right before his nap time (AND stay asleep for the bed transfer).
For a kid who had previously required 30 minutes of rocking, swaying, juggling and other acrobatics before even thinking about closing one eye, this was an absolute miracle. My husband kept all non-nurslings in the house fed and offered me all the windows for extra sleep that he could. The baby nursed like a champ and occasionally entertained sleeping somewhere not on his mother’s person.
Whether it was his easier-going personality or my own experience as a second-time mom, my transition to a mother of two was surprisingly so much more possible than I thought.
Slowly the days turned into weeks and months as they somehow do with a newborn, and I now have a brand new 2 year old and a 9 month old.
As I was taking a quick shower this morning, I realized they hadn’t followed me into the bathroom like they always do. When I got out of the bathroom I heard the silence that mothers everywhere know means their coffee grounds have been scattered throughout the house or their new couch has a fresh mural courtesy of Crayola.
I went to look for them and much to my surprise found them playing quietly together. The toddler was showing the baby his dump truck and the baby was enthusiastically putting every piece of anything he had into the back of the truck. I watched them for a few minutes and remembered the early panic of my pregnancy.
I am so grateful that life isn’t limited to my fears and imagination.
I am so happy to be surprised that our hearts and our home grew to welcome this brother that was always meant to be here. I hadn’t ruined my first son’s life with a new baby and I didn’t die of sleep deprivation or meeting too many needs.
My first son has a brother, who he proudly declares is his best friend. And I am a mother of two boys, 15 months apart.