Friday, March 16, 2018

when your family grows

This is something I have started to write many times, but it was only in the last few weeks that I finally found the words. I was able to articulate them while speaking to a dear friend who is about to have her second baby. I often have strong feelings about my own motherhood experiences, but I think it is sometimes in moments of empathy that we're able to reach through and grasp the things that we truly want to share with other people. Understanding, support, love, perspective, the bright side of change and the beauty of life.

I have seen so many young moms in the past year anxiously awaiting a new addition to their family. For me, becoming a mom was fairly easy. It felt right. I eased into the role of staying home with William and felt blessed to do so. I realized pretty quickly that my introverted self flourished in the intimacy of the one-on-one baby life. Chill pajama time for days. When we got pregnant with our second baby, I started having a hard time. I confided in a few moms what I was feeling:

Guilt. What if I don't love this baby the way I love William? Why is it so sad and hard to say goodbye to this time of life? Fear. How will I balance the two of them? What if I'm not able to be with William as much? What if he needs me? How will this new baby fit into our family? I like things the way they are. 

These wonderful women all said the same thing: I felt the same way. And trust me. That will all evaporate the second you meet your new baby. Your heart will burst and multiply and you will wonder how you ever thought there wouldn't be room in your heart or home for this new life.

The funny thing is, I'm baby number 3 in my own family! So obviously I should have known that the best is yet to come. But there are a couple of things that work against us here. The hormones, fatigue, and sickness of early pregnancy are rough. They don't help those feelings of inadequacy. We also didn't find out the gender which, though an incredible birth experience, made it a bit more difficult to feel bonded throughout the pregnancy. I had no idea I held my little girl within me. I couldn't know her, dream about her, call her by name, tell Will about her. In the midst of my fear of change, I think those things may have helped some of that anxiety.

I confess that I shed many tears as I held onto Will extra tight, and realized that our era was coming to an end. It was very hard, friends. I say you should embrace those feelings. It is okay to be sad and realize that your time together has been incredibly precious to you. Allow yourself to cherish your time with your firstborn, and feel so lucky to have him/her as your oldest child. None of your other kids will get this time! Your oldest is unique, and is the only child to be spoiled this way. It is a treasured time of learning for you both. They will make a wonderful big brother/sister. They will lead and love on your other babies and it will seriously bless you tenfold for the rest of your life.

I was very surprised by:

1.) How much I immediately and overwhelmingly adored Ginny. Like whoa. After we brought her home, I couldn't believe how nervous I had been. She belonged in our family. From the very beginning. I think our bodies help with this, too. The hormones of birth, nursing, etc. God designed us with such purpose.

2.) How much time I still have with Will! Newborns sleep SO much at first, it's crazy. It's funny how quickly we forget. Even if the nights are rough, their entire cycle revolves around eating and sleeping. That's all they do. And they can't move. Haha. They will stay put. I actually started feeling more guilty about my lack of time with Ginny, rather than with Will. Ginny spends a lot of time elsewhere: her mat, her swing, her bumbo. When Will was a newborn I had all the time in the world to just stare at him and worry over every hiccup. But Ginny gets to chill while Will and I play. I'm much more relaxed with her.

3.) How extraordinary it is to shepherd William's heart into being a caring, protective, loving big brother. Getting him up in the morning and hearing him say, "where's Ginny girl?" is the most amazing thing on earth. Seeing him perk up, constantly attentive to her cries, tenderizes my heart. Their relationship is a lifelong promise. It teaches & sanctifies on the daily.

All of that to say... don't try to force your feelings, or fall into guilt over them. It is truly impossible to imagine what having another baby will be like for your family until it happens. Dusty reminded me of New Year's Eve, 2015, when I was days away from having William. I cried SO MUCH that night. I was so sad it was our last one together, just us. And now I literally cannot imagine our lives (and our New Year's Eves) without our children. When we do a group hug and William whispers, "Mommy, Daddy, William, Ginny. This is our family!" I flutter quietly to the ground like confetti. Every chapter has a bittersweet ending, but I promise the sweetness wins out.

Sending love to you and your (quite literal) growing pains, moms. They are so worthwhile!

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