As soon as I spotted that second pink line on my pregnancy test, I was giddy.
I showed my two-year-old, who was like, “cool I guess,” and that is when it hit me: I was making her a big sister, possibly against her will, and neither of us had any idea what was coming.
I know that sounds dramatic, lots of people have younger siblings and don’t hold it against their parents, but there is nothing compared to the guilt you feel when you realize you have just pulled the rug out from under your firstborn.
Now that I am forty weeks and four days pregnant, I have had lots (and lots and lots) of time to think about (and worry about and anxiously lie awake at night about) what adding a new member to our family will be like. Most of it is irrational, ridiculous, and possibly hormone induced, but it is all too real in my head.
1. How Can I Possibly Love Another Baby As Much?
I am leading off with the most commonly admitted worry. It makes sense that we would wonder just how much our hearts can stretch, considering the immense amount of patience and caring and “I would literally jump in front of a car for you” love we have for our first kids, but I have been assured that it is completely unwarranted. It must be like loving gin and tonics and then discovering margaritas—one does not deplete your appreciation for the other.
2. My Belly Has Officially Taken Over My Lap, and My Toddler Hates Me For It.
Around week thirty my belly popped out of nowhere, going from cute little bump to whale-sized appendage. Just like my first pregnancy, this made everything harder from getting out of bed to standing up from the couch. However, this time I had the added bonus of toddler guilt to make me feel even worse (yay).
Apparently reading books together is only good when she can curl up on my lap, and playing trains in her room is ruined if I can’t get up from crisscross applesauce quickly enough to follow it roll across the rug.
She hates me for this. She will hate the baby for this! Her entire relationship with her sibling is being shaped right now, and I am ruining it! I can see her now lying on her therapist’s couch, having an epiphany of why she has always held such disdain for her younger brother: “She couldn’t even bend down to tie my shoes! My dad had to do it!” she sobs. I better start a therapy savings account now.
3. Oh God, Will I Ever Sleep Again?
We just started sleeping better (aka more like humans sleep and not some kind of wild animal always on watch for predators, afraid to close our eyes for more than a few hours). Why are we starting it all over? I thought the middle of the night feedings were hard the first time—I don’t even want to think about the levels of exhaustion I will attain this time. That’s it. I will just have to relegate myself to micronaps and start going to the freezer first when I can’t find my keys.
4. How Can I Carry Even More Stuff Around?
I started with the cutest little bag, packed with a single diaper, travel-sized pack of wipes, and maybe a burp cloth—but that didn’t last long.
Even though I was always pretty minimal when it came to baby stuff, it still piled up as she began demanding an assortment of snacks, ever-present water cups, and her favorite toy of the moment (that she couldn’t possibly leave behind but never wants to carry. Huh?).
How the heck am I going to pack around the long list of toddler “needs” along with what a new baby actually requires to spend any amount of time in public? And how will I carry this checked-baggage-only-sized bag and a baby and keep up with a toddler? We are never leaving home again.
5. What the Heck Am I Going to Do with My Toddler with a Newborn Velcroed to Me?
Please, Lord, make this new baby just a smidge more relaxed and easygoing than my first. I won’t be so bold as to ask for a baby that actually sleeps, but if I could just put him down a couple times a day, that would be great.
I can see my toddler side-eyeing me already for packing him around in the sling all day just like I had to do with her. And bringing him into my bed? No way will she be ok with that. Growing up we got a kitten to accompany our adult cat, and right after we brought him home she pushed him off the couch with a very decisive flick of her paw. I imagine it will be something like that.
Things will be fine, right?
As I said before, these fears are probably completely irrational and we will settle into our new normal just like we did with our first baby. She will smother him with kisses and her heart will stretch to make room for him just like ours will—until he gets old enough to take away her toys. Then it will be war. Pray for me?
Related: A Tribute to the Second Child