I was scared when I found out we were pregnant with our second.
We weren't trying. The plan had been to wait until our son was older and potty-trained, not nine months and still nursing.
My firstborn was still a baby, and now we were expecting another.
I was a month along when my husband deployed. Our first skype session involved me holding up a sign that read "I'm pregnant." His jaw dropped and we joked about vasectomies.
I wasn't ready. He wasn't ready. Even though my body handles pregnancies really well and I didn't experience anything other than exhaustion and showing early, I was overwhelmed.
My son and I spent our time at my best friend's house almost everyday. I helped her as she worked from home, tagging along with her posse of kids to the park or library. She became my safe place when I was emotional and didn't want to be alone. She helped me grow excited over this new baby, encouraging me that it would be okay. That a 17 month age gap really wasn't much smaller than her own kids.
I tucked my oldest next to me on the bed every time we had an ultrasound. We listened to the baby's heartbeat and saved pictures of our tiny gummy bear. I Skyped my husband and we found out the sex together.
We were having a girl. I was happy and sad. I'd wanted a boy. I'd always envisioned myself as a boy mom. I wanted to play with dinosaurs and trucks, not Barbies and princess dresses; but God was changing my plans. Again.
I struggled to accept it. Going to the stores and looking at all of the beautiful little girl clothes helped. One of the first outfits I picked out had adorable penguins and sparkly snow flakes on it. I thought about the closeness I shared with my mom and sister, and found myself looking forward to the idea of late night talks and Starbucks runs with my own daughter someday.
We celebrated my husband's return a couple of weeks before my birthday. Over the next two months, he acclimated to his baby boy turned toddler. He adjusted to the way I had rearranged the kitchen cabinets. We went out on dates and family outings. We enjoyed every minute, but it was still a struggle. So much in life had changed, and two months later, the biggest change arrived.
Our 7 lb 15oz redheaded little squish.
That first day, I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning nursing her (after laboring for 9 hours). My milk came in the following morning and she finally started sleeping. I loved looking at her smooth, dainty face. I loved listening to her breathe as I snuggled my husband on the narrow hospital bed in the mother & baby wing.
Two years have passed since my sweet girl was born. So much in life is different, but the biggest difference is my perspective.
I'm no longer scared.
Having my daughter is one of the best things that ever happened to our family. She is my son's best friend. She's got her daddy wrapped around her finger.
I'm still looking forward to Starbucks runs in our future, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy and absolutely love what we share right now.
My girl hugs like no one else. She loves giving kisses, being tickled, and snuggling while we watch Moana. She teethed on her brother's Hot Wheels, and growls better than our 3 year old boy. She's feisty and stubborn; tender and sweet.
I thought having two kids so close in age would mean losing myself to motherhood.
I thought I wouldn't have time to write or focus on any of my other dreams.
Instead, I found myself.
Six months in to her beautiful life, we found our rhythm. I learned how to coincide their nap schedules. I got up early to write in the mornings, and pursued my dreams as they slept in the afternoon. I struggled, made mistakes, and I grew.
My husband and I battled postpartum depression together- just like we worked through deployment stresses. We moved from Germany to the east coast. We lost our community and friends, but gained closeness with our families. We talked and talked, and slowly learned how to thrive.
Looking back, I'm so thankful God changed my plans.
Our daughter was and is the best surprise we've ever been given.
I don't regret becoming pregnant with her, and I'm so thankful for everything that fear taught me.
I'm stronger than I thought. I can be a good mom to more than one child. And our family? We weren't complete until our second was born.
If you're in a hard place and are scared, reach out. Ask for help. Talk to someone. Realize that it is going to be hard- probably harder than you think, but it's also going to be so much better.
Because even if it's not what you expected, that little baby growing in your womb may just be the person you never knew you needed.
Your best friend, your mini-me, your one-of-a-kind beautiful child, who loves your soul like no one else.