I was working in Photoshop late last night, making this little quote for a dear friend of mine (one whose path to creating a family hasn't gone quite as she expected) because I want to print it, put it in a frame and mail it to her to let her know that I am thinking about her.
A train whistle blew loudly and I looked at the video monitor to see if Liam might stir. He usually sleeps through the train that passes behind our house once or twice a night and the train in the distance that blows its whistle a handful of times each day. But this time, he bolted awake and screamed at the top of his lungs. I rushed into his room, picked him up and rocked him gently as I shhh'd him. He snuggled against me (something he hasn't done in a long time), burying his face in my neck. He was calm and comforted and usually I would put him back down and leave the room, but last night I just held him. I inhaled the scent of his hair, watched his eyelids flutter, and kissed his fingers.
And then I cried.
It wasn't long before I was holding him, swaying, and sobbing. He had fallen asleep in my arms but I couldn't put him down. He usually doesn't want to be held for long periods of time (he wants to go! do! move!) and we've always put him down awake so that he can soothe himself to sleep. In that moment of holding him, realizing that the times that he would let me do this were becoming fewer & farther between, and realizing that come November, I'll have even fewer moments like this, my heart felt like it was breaking.
Friends, I've been struggling a bit, but not sharing.
Partially because I know that some members of our community may just not want to hear it and partially because I haven't been able to give words to my feelings. But, last night was like a flood and today, I'm going to hold my breath, write this post, and hope that people understand and have some empathy.
I'm a planner. Always have been.
You've seen Liam's birthday party plans, his room, and my to-do lists before he even arrived. While infertility challenged the way that I thought would start my family, I eagerly charted my temps, made my doctor's appointments, did the research, etc and every one of those things made me feel like I was one step closer to the baby I so desperately wanted to have.
When I got pregnant with Liam, I was ready. It was like a huge reward for all of the stress of our journey TTC. For a year we had been waiting for the day it might finally happen and it felt so satisfying once it did.
I always wanted to have (at least) two children, and after our struggles conceiving Liam, it was my idea to forgo birth control to "just see what happens." I was confident that there were no surprise babies in our future, but welcomed the idea. After IF, getting pregnant easily is like winning the fertility lottery, right? And if that were to happen, I’d be overjoyed, right?
As it turns out…no.
I never expected to feel this way, but I'm almost 25 weeks into this pregnancy and I still feel completely unprepared and shocked by this child's existence...and not really in a good way. I'm not sure how much of what I'm feeling has to do with this pregnancy being unexpected vs. how much of it is the typical feelings of a woman carrying her second child.
To be clear, I want this baby. I understand what an unbelievable blessing it is to have a second child, and that we didn't struggle to get here. I fully expect to love him every bit as much as I love Liam--but right now, I just don't feel the same connection that I feel with Liam.
The best way I can describe it is that it feels like a stranger is coming to take me away from my son. I feel horribly guilty saying that, but that's what it feels like.
People have multiple children all of the time-- twins, triplets, quads! People have Irish twins and 2u2, and they're great parents! So, what gives?
I think it has to do with the planner and the worrier in me. I did not plan this. In my plan, my kids would be 2 years apart, not barely a year. In my plan, I had more time to devote to just Liam so that I wouldn’t miss anything. In my plan, Liam would be more independent so I didn’t miss anything in the life of my 2nd child. In my plan, I would feel ready to welcome another baby.
Life gave my plan the middle finger.
I worry that I will feel like I'm not able to give enough attention to Liam and that he'll feel abandoned by me. I worry that I won't be able to focus on his miraculous milestones, because I'll be tending to his brother. I worry that I'll miss out on nights like last night (*cue the tears again*) because of the new baby. I'm sending him to Mother's Day Out (Wed & Fri, 10am-2pm) before I feel like he's ready (ok, before I feel ready) because I don't feel confident that I can handle the two of them all day every day. I feel like shit that I have to send him away to have someone else take care of him, even for a few hours a few times a week.
Less often, I think about what Jack might miss out on. (Add another heaping spoonful of guilt to my plate for that.) How unfair is it that he will likely not be breastfed as long as Liam? (I'm feeling like I really need to get back on my anxiety medicine-- if this entire post is not proof, I don't know what is-- and I'm unable to take it while pregnant or BFing. My goal is to make it to 6 weeks this time. At that point, I will weigh my emotional health and make a decision whether or not to continue. This is a far cry from the year goal I had with Liam, and the 6 months we actually made it. More guilt.) I think about his baby book that will likely stay largely empty. His milestones met with far less excitement than his brother's. His hand-me-downs when everything his brother has is new. And I think about all of the things we've shared with Liam that we will not share with Jack in the same way...simply because it's not the first time.
I've perfected my response to strangers' acknowledgement of my pregnancy. I beam and say, "We're so excited!" and "They'll be so close!" And when people look at my precious son and my growing belly and say, "Wow. You're going to have your hands full,” I'm quick to smile and say, "I'd rather they were full than empty." Now if I could just actually feel that way. And logically, I do feel that way--emotionally, it's a bit more complicated.
I’m the second child in my family and I’ve never felt less loved than my brother. My mom (and everyone else I know who has more than one child) has assured me that the second I see this baby, I will immediately fall in love with him the exact same way I did with Liam. I believe them. I really do— my mom said that she had all of the same fears that I have now while she was pregnant with me. I just worry— What if I’m the one woman that doesn’t happen to… simply because I can’t get past the way it was “supposed” to be?
I'm not feeling like this every day. I have my good days and I have my bad days. The bad ones are largely fueled by the hormones of pregnancy, I'm certain. I'm just struggling with how to cope with this new life, this new child, this new plan.
I've stared at that quote all day today & I've realized that maybe I need to hear it just as much as my friend does.