It was 9:00 pm, and there I stood – in the doorway to my 16 month old’s bedroom, staring at her innocent, unknowing face. Her tiny butt stuck straight in the air, knees tucked up under her chest, her pacifier (named “Gus”) hung from perfectly rosy, parted lips. Her chubby hands hugged tight to her favorite pink blanket, and mine longed to hold tight to her.
With tears in my eyes, I scooped her into my arms and carried her to our rocking chair. Our chair; the one that we’d spent more than 500 nights in – rocking, singing, crying & hushing. The chair that had seen us through 2am, 4am and 6am feedings while the rest of the world was sleeping. The chair that had cradled a new mother’s aching back, and bore tears – so may tears – both hers and mine. The chair that wouldn’t be just ours for much longer.
While I’d never before (nor since) had a sane thought that involved waking my sleeping child, that night was different.
Less than an hour earlier, I’d sat in the bathroom with the shower running, shaky hands holding loosely to a white stick: “Pregnant”. I remembered the feeling; that tiny screen revealing such huge, life altering news. Just like the first time, there was elation, fear, disbelief & love, all wrapped up in adrenaline. But this time, there was a new and unexpected feeling mixed into my emotional cocktail: guilt.
I’d thought I was ready. After all, I’d been a mother for nearly a year and and half (which, with your first child, feels like an eternity). I was practically an expert (you should see my eyes rolling now). But my joy was stolen by the realization that in eight short months, the most love filled, challenging, anxiety inducing, rewarding chapter of my life thus far would end, and a new one would begin. It would no longer be just us – figuring out how to do this new life together. No, the new chapter would be so much more complex, with new challenges and personalities to navigate. Why was I doing this?
Was I not fulfilled enough by my beautiful little girl? Would she resent me for wanting more than just her? Would she even remember the sacred time we spent as a family of 3 – letting her crash “date nights” and Saturday morning coffee runs? Would she know how we whisked her away on vacation after vacation, and spent so much time focused on just her – her development, her joy, her perfect existence?
Everything would be different now. This new baby would never know my husband and me the way our first one had – wide-eyed and attentive. Soon, our only goal when taking our tiny family to a restaurant or on a plane would be to escape with our lives, and maybe a sliver of dignity still in tact. (In hindsight, the latter was overly ambitious).
And at the risk of sounding like a cliche: I had no idea if I could love another child the way I loved my first born.
So we sat, just the two of us, rocking while tears poured down my face. I choked out the words to “You are my Sunshine” between deep sobs. Was she my sunshine? Yes. But would she even believe those words come October? I wasn’t so sure.
Our daughter was well prepped by the time her little sister debuted in October. She knew what her name was going to be, but still lovingly referred to her as “Princess”. The transition from one to two kids was – ehem, challenging – but simultaneously seamless. I could not have predicted the way that this new little girl would steal my heart all over again, or the beautiful layers of love and compassion that she would add to our firstborn’s personality.
Now, I sit here writing, feeling our highly anticipated third baby rolling around in my belly. The nostalgia builds as I realize that the couple of years I’ve spent with just my two girls will feel fleeting when, someday, I look back at my life. Whatever “normalcy” we’ve established in the past two years is about to be yet another closed chapter in my book. But, I know this time around that God is blessing us all with the greatest of gifts – more people to love.
For the first time in my life, I understand the vastness of God’s love for us – the human race – one race – we’re all his children. I understand now that no matter how many of us there are, what we look like, what we believe – his heart is capable of growing infinitely to hold each one of us close. I rejoice in the knowledge that no matter what we do, he’ll never give up on loving us; frustration, disappointment, anger even – I’m sure he feels it all as we do, but just as a mother and father are filled with unwavering hope and love for their children, God loves the world. It all makes perfect sense to me now.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
(chosen as our daughter’s life verse for her baptism)
Photo credit: Wild Bloom Studio