What I Didn’t Expect About Expecting Baby #2
Since finding out about our pregnancy, an emotional battle has been taking place within me. When we found out we were expecting our second child, my husband and I were over the moon. We were loving parenthood with our one-year-old daughter, so the news of expanding our family was nothing short of amazing. While mentally preparing for baby number two, I fully expected this pregnancy to be more physically trying than my first. I mean, I wasn’t chasing around a one-year-old-ball-of-energy last time around. I knew I wouldn’t have the luxury of napping whenever fatigue hits or the flexibility to stay in bed all day if I feel under the weather.
On the other hand, several of the apprehensions I had as a first time mom had disappeared. I expected to feel more confident. I expected to feel secure. And lastly, I expected to feel ready. But there are some things I didn’t expect to feel while preparing for baby number two. Here’s what took me by surprise.
I knew being pregnant while handling a toddler would be physically tough. What I did not expect, however, was that my second pregnancy would be equally troublesome on an emotional level. Three questions made me feel conflicted.
Will I love you enough?
I constantly find myself worrying about whether I will be able to love this new baby in the same way I love my daughter. It is difficult to imagine loving anything or anyone else as fiercely as I love her. She is quite literally an extension of my own heart—so the idea of loving a second child as mightily as I love her seems inconceivable. I am a middle child myself and my sister is six years older. There were times growing up when my mom talked about the six years she spent with my sister before having other kids. I felt as though they shared a special kind of love that my mom and I did not. I think these feelings from my own past have caused me to project the same feelings onto my own situation.
Why do I feel so guilty?
I feel guilty that I am not cherishing this pregnancy like I did my first—or conversely—that I am preoccupied with the physical exhaustion of my pregnancy and thus, am not adequately providing my toddler with the emotional attention she requires and deserves. It feels as though I am engaging in a game of tug-of-war with my emotions, unable to find a balance that feels healthy and comfortable. With my daughter, I kept a journal throughout my entire pregnancy. I keep promising myself I am going to start one for the new baby any day now, but now we are over four months in and I have yet to keep this promise. In fact, I have yet to do a single thing for this baby! By this time in my first pregnancy, we had started buying nursery furniture, clothing, and other necessities for my daughter. This time around, I feel like I have placed preparation on the back burner.
Will I be leaving someone out?
I struggle with thoughts about the future—specifically after the arrival of our new addition. I want to give this baby all the attention and love I was able to give my daughter, especially during those first few months at home. My daughter and I developed a magnificent bond during that “fourth trimester.”
I worry I won’t have the opportunity to foster the same connection with this baby. My younger brother and I are only 14 months apart in age, and for many years, I felt as though we were in competition for our parents’ attention—who would get to cuddle with mom on the couch before bed, whose sporting event would dad come to that day? With being only 20 months apart, I worry my children will face the same feelings of competition I felt when I was a child.
Thankfully, I have reached out about my struggles to fellow moms with multiple children. As I’m sure you can guess, I’ve been reassured— these feelings are completely normal. Many of these moms even shared their own feelings of guilt and worry while pregnant. And all of those same moms promised me their worries were for nothing. They assured me that once the new baby arrives, everything will fall into place. My heart will grow to accommodate the demand for more love without sacrificing my love for another child, and I will learn to balance my attention and time with each child to meet their individual needs. I pray that other pregnant mamas facing a similar emotional battle will recognize: You are not alone. This really is completely normal. Everything will fall into place for your family, too.
How do you handle the worry that you’re not giving the same amount of yourself to all your children equally?