Saturday, April 16, 2011

Will I love the second baby as much?

I orignally wrote this a while back, but figured it should be shared here too.

One of my very best friends is currently very pregnant for the second time. Soon she will be welcoming into her family a little girl. And her only son will no longer be an only. He will be instantly transformed into a big brother. And life as they know it will change. Again.

Parenthood is an interesting experience. It doesn't matter how many people tell you how hard it is. It doesn't matter how many times you are warned. It doesn't matter how much time you have spent with other people's children. How much you think you are prepared. It's harder than you could have ever imagined. Every single facet of your life is affected, irreversibly and immediately. It's no less dramatic the second time around than the first.

She's worried about a lot of things right now. Things that every mother entering that home stretch of pregnancy worry about. Things that other people are supposed to reassure you about, not feed into. Things that other people are supposed to be supportive about, but aren't always. Will she love this child as much? Will her only child be okay? How will they all handle the transition? How can she try to do things different this time around?

The anxiety that comes with those last days of pregnancy is bad enough. The anticipation leading up to delivery. The little voice in the back of your head, always a little leery. Is the baby going to be healthy? Will there be any complications? But when you are already thinking about all those things, having doubt embedded in your head by others serves no good purpose. Are you doing the right thing by having another baby?

I've tried as best I can to reassure her that things will be okay. That even though she is now questioning if she can love this baby as much as her first, that she will. I've tried explaining to her that it's not a matter of sharing a smaller piece of your love - it's that your heart seems to grow. You aren't giving any less to any one. You give more to more. But as with most things involved with parenting, she won't know that herself until she experiences it.

I've tried to reassure her that by having another baby, she isn't harming her son. That he will learn things like waiting his turn, sharing, patience. Important lessons that he will carry through his life, and be a better person for having learned them. That she will soon see sides of him that would never be seen if not for the addition of a sibling. Compassion, protection, teaching. There will be challenges. There will be arguments. There will inevitably be conflict. There will be times that she questions how she can fill the needs of both her children simultaneously. But she will. And the good will always outweigh the bad.

I say these things to her, but I don't know that she truly believes them. She's been told otherwise by someone else. But that someone doesn't know these things. That someone only has an only. And there are some things that you can't possibly be qualified to judge about until you've been there. And there are some things that you should never, ever say to a pregnant woman.

She is as close to being my sister as a person could be without any genetic ties. And she is about to be the mother of two children. And she is about to know exactly what I mean. Love you!

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