When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby I cried. I cried for many reasons. I cried because I felt like I was going to lose my (then) 11 month old son to his sibling, or worse, he would feel like he was losing me. I also cried because after 11 months, my life was starting to feel less chaotic, and because I was finally able to feel like myself. I had recently found my groove in running again, and was enjoying my weekends perfecting homemade mojitos. Plus, I was beginning to feel like myself at work-a place I had not enjoyed being since I returned from maternity leave 7 months prior. Lastly, I cried because I felt guilty. I felt guilty for being sad about being pregnant-something I am so fortunate to experience, and am well aware many women wish to experience. I also felt guilty because there was a miracle happening inside of me. At some point I wanted to add to my family-in fact I wanted to have three more children-just not then. I feel it is important for me to highlight I was not feeling sad, angry, guilty, etc because I did not want a baby, because I most definitely did, but rather because having a baby was not part of my plan at that point in life.
As my pregnancy proceeded, and the shock started to reside, I felt a bit better but I was not truly happy or excited until I neared the end of my pregnancy I remember hitting the end of my first trimester and thought I should announce it on social media, however once thirteen weeks hit I did not announce it. Then 14 weeks passed, and eventually 20 weeks passed, and I still did not announce our news. I just was not ready. When we found out we were expecting our first we immediately contacted a photographer and took photos to announce our pregnancy-granted the photos were already being taken as they were a Christmas gift for my in laws, but nonetheless we were still getting photographs to share our news. With this pregnancy my husband kept asking me when we would announce (as he was ecstatic), and finally at week 25 he decided to share, and then tagged me in his post. I remember feeling some happiness after he posted we were expecting, because everyone was supportive and excited for us. Some people reached out and offered personal messages which aided in the happiness. Looking back, it was a good thing my husband decided to share the news because it allowed for people to offer support and encouragement-something I did not necessarily know I needed until then.
Around week 30 of my pregnancy, I came across a blogger who was asking her readers if she should have more children. She also requested an explanation as to why they thought she should/should not expand her family. One person wrote in and said, “I think you should have one more child-give your son a sibling, as my sibling is the greatest gift my parents could ever give me”. I read that and felt an emotion I had yet to experience in my pregnancy. Relief. When I first told my closest friends and family my feelings related to having a second child, their words were always reassuring, but never had I felt relief or a sense of peace. Reflecting now, I truly believe I was supposed to read that blog and specifically that comment, as it is something that stuck with me throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. Do not get me wrong, the last 10ish weeks my emotions were still up and down, but I was more at peace with being pregnant and much less sad.
As my pregnancy neared an end I began to feel more tired-yes tired from growing a human, but also tired because my 18month old started to co-sleep with us. This was something we never did, but started doing approximately 3 weeks before my due date because I was afraid I’d miss out on time with him. I was fearful my time with my oldest would diminish as soon as his sibling came and I would be forgotten. I consider my relationship with my oldest to be secure-in that he and I are very attached. I was able to respond to his needs immediately and prided myself on the fact that I was his chosen person in life. I remember lying awake in bed one morning and becoming tearful thinking that there was a possibility our relationship might change. I leaned over and cuddled him while I felt his brother move inside of me. At that moment I placed my hand on my belly and wrapped my other arm around my then 18month. For the second time in my pregnancy I felt peace. I am not sure what it was that made me feel this, but I like to think it was a sign from both babies giving me the “okay” to add to the family, and that things would work out; and guess what, they have.
My second son was born four weeks ago, and although life has been chaotic, it has worked out, and feels it has done so just as it was meant to. My oldest still cuddles with me at bedtime, and I am still his chosen person. As for my connection with my youngest-something I was afraid would not happen (because how can you possibly love another human as much as you love your first?) it is present and it continues to grow, as it did with my first son. Although life is lived at a much faster pace with two vs. one, I feel connected to both of my babies, and know my relationship with both is strong.
The first couple weeks of being a mama to two babies were the hardest. Although I have a great support system and many resources to turn to, I still felt alone and defeated off and on throughout that time. On the first night home I tried everything in my power to keep things the same as they were prior to by youngest joining the family. We ate dinner, played, my husband did bath time and I read and tucked my oldest into bed. As soon as he went to sleep I loved on my newborn, and thought, “This is great! It is like nothing has changed!”. Wrong. The next day my oldest was a lot more clingy, my husband and I were more tired, and my newborn seemed to need a diaper change every five seconds, on top of cluster feeding for what seemed to be all day and night long.
I quickly realized that our old normal was in fact that-old-and this was our new normal. I was able to keep going and regulate my emotions until after bedtime, which was when I cried, and cried hard. I felt defeated and worried that this would always be our “normal”… chaos mixed with clingy and needy children. My husband was understanding and listened to my concerns, but also reassured me it would get better. I wish I could say it did get better right away-but it was not for another two weeks when I can truly say it got better. By better I mean the postpartum blues lifted, and some of the chaos settled. For two straight weeks I cried every single night. I cried for fear I was not bonding with my infant, I also cried for guilt about how I yelled at my 19 month old for not listening, and I also cried for sadness I was not ever going to be truly content with our new lives. However, two weeks after my newborn entered the world things did get better. What made things better was a combination of me reaching out for help, as well as my support system checking in on me. When people checked in on me, I was honest with them in what I needed. I shared things about this stage of motherhood that were both beautiful but also so difficult. I strongly believe that had I not told others what I was experiencing or needed, I would have continued to feel overwhelmed and lonely.
As I write this post and reflect on the feelings I had during pregnancy, I realize how hard I was on myself for experiencing those emotions. When life does not go as planned we tend to feel angry, sad, scared, anxious, and guilty. These are all difficult emotions to feel, but amongst them, guilt has been the hardest for me to cope with. I recently had a friend tell me, “Guilt is a feeling we experience when we have done something bad”. Looking back, I was not doing anything bad by feeling sad or angry about being pregnant, that is just how I felt in those moments. I wish I could go back and tell myself “It will all be okay, take the time to feel what you need to feel, don’t rush it-but know it will all be okay”. Although I cannot go back and tell myself this message, I hope by sharing my story I will be able to help another woman not feel so alone-especially when life does not go as planned. I also hope this story will encourage others to reach out. Tell others what you are feeling, and tell them what you need. Because mama, if you are not honest about these things motherhood will be that much harder.