New Additions and New Emotions
I am due with my second baby in a little less than month. Another little girl. And of all the emotions that come with expecting a baby—desperately loving someone you’ve never met, constant fear of doing something wrong, wondering if I’m going to have the calm, sweet birth experience I had with her big sister or if this will be entirely different, the list of things I “plan” to do differently this time (ha!)—comes a feeling that I didn’t expect: the panicked feeling of time ticking away, the time I spend with my 2 ½ year old.
For over 2 years my first daughter and I have been a dynamic duo, a pair, two moving parts of singular organism. No, I am not a single mother like many of you out there, but there is no denying that there is a unique bond between mother and child that is unlike any other. After she was born, I strapped her to my chest and off we went. I nourished her from my own body. We struggled through sleep issues that felt insurmountable and came out on the other side as well-rested and ready to tackle anything with our stores of newfound energy. As the invisible cord between us stretched ever so slightly, we still knew at all times where the other was. “Mama?” became the bell that rang for all needs. My phone is full of pictures of her and selfies of us together. Now that she is two, we are buddies, partners in crime and creativity, bookstore connoisseurs and a standing lunch date of grilled cheese at least once a week. We play through silly mornings, explore outside, sing Daniel Tiger in the car, get chores done, eat most of our meals together, and take naps at the same time. She is my helper. We make each other laugh and we frustrate one another sometimes, too. With my belly so big and round, I reach the things up high and she reaches the things down low. But, make no mistake, the first time she looked at me and said, “I can do it by myself. I don’t need your help” it just about broke me in two. Now she says, “Teach me how to do it, mama…”
And now, in a matter of mere weeks this little world we’ve created will host a newcomer. I’m not at all concerned that I won’t love and adore my new daughter. I already do with every little punch and jab and searing ligament pain that lets me know she’s in there and growing. I trust all those mamas who have told me how my heart will grow and I can already feel it expanding, along with my belly, each day. But I so love our little two-person club, our mommy-and-Norah outings, and our little language of looks that we use, that I fear any kind of disruption to our little symbiosis. I am reveling in our routines, bedtime and naptime especially, when she looks up into my face and is still and sleepy. I know there will be times when I am exhausted and easily frustrated by little things Norah does. I know there will be times when I need to tend to an infant rather than head outside to explore what new creatures our backyard is harboring. I worry about sleep and those first four months, of course, because I know I am a better mama when my whole family and I are rested and ready for daily adventures. I know my husband and our kids’ grandmas will be so very helpful, but I can’t help but feel that I am a cell…dividing once again, and like every big change, there are the unknowns, there is pain that inevitably leads to growth, there are deep breaths.
Other moms have told me that their older kids had a hard time sharing mom’s attention and affection when a new baby came along…I think for me, it might be the opposite: I’m not ready to share Norah’s bright shining eyes looking somewhere other than right into my heart. Like every other mother-emotion, I’m not the first–nor the last–to feel this way. It simply took me by surprise, that’s all.
So as the weeks tick by, and boy to they go quickly the second time around, I look at my little girl and savor every little moment of giggling, snuggling, creating, exploring, learning, talking, reading and playing. I love our one on one time of just talking about the world as she sees it. I’m dead to the world every night by 8pm, but it’s worth it to absorb each musical little conversation she has with her stuffed animals, her good-morning smile, the arias she sings in the car, her little hands grabbing my face for a quick nuzzle, and her developing sense of humor. I know these won’t go away with the birth of her sister, but my attention and time, my energy and thoughts, will be divided. Until then, however, she’s got me and I’ve got her and we’ve got a little bit of time left. I’m not going to take a moment of it for granted.