They say your heart will grow to accommodate all the love in your heart for a new baby. They say you’ll love your second as much as your first. They say it’s a hard transition, but you’ll be okay. They say the second one is easier than the first. Unless you’re the unlucky one who got tricked into having a second by your angel unicorn first baby. Thankfully, I’m in the former group and my second born eats and sleeps well and enjoys time by himself. My first was fussy and burpy and we struggled to latch for weeks before we got the hang of it. She has always had a hard time sleeping, and even now we’re still more concerned with what will wake her than our newborn. She is wild and wonderful and completely exhausting.
While other preggers worry about whether they’ll love their second, I worried whether I would still love my first the way I used to. I worried that my love for my second would eclipse my love for my first. That I’d become too irritable to deal with her needs and clinginess. That the demands of tandem nursing would get the better of me. That my mental health would suffer immeasurably staying at home with two babies instead of one. My whole world used to orbit my firstborn; we have been attached since day one, and now there is another heartbeat that came from my own.
I’m eleven days into this mothering two kids thing, and like the Grinch I can feel my heart growing by sizes and sizes. They were right. My heart is making room for another. The part Dr. Seuss didn’t tell us about hearts expanding, though, is the growing pains.
The other day, I found myself getting short with Moira and immediately scooping her up into a tearful hug. I felt guilty for the way I spoke to her, but also so disconnected from her. There is a natural and necessary distancing that happened for us after birth where my daughter spends almost all day with my husband so I can spend all day recuperating in bed with my newborn son. As much as I know our family needs this space to reconfigure, the space stretches out my heart, and I need her close to me so I can breathe her in.
What I have come to know in these eleven days since birth is that my irritations with my toddler haven’t changed since her brother came Earthside, just as my love for her hasn’t lessened. I have less room in my arms, but more room on my lap. I still can’t lift her up while I am healing, but I always have the strength for a hug. Sometimes she has to sing or tantrum in the next room, but her voice will always matter to me. While our family dynamic is changing, our love and struggles remain. The growing pains ache and stretch, but these are the cataclysmic sensations of a planet gaining a new moon.
“You (both) are my sun, my moon, and all my stars” -E.E. Cummings, parenthesis added.