What They Don’t Tell You to Expect…
Before anyone knew we were pregnant, I was holding my brand new teeny, tiny nephew, feeling all sorts of hormonal butterflies about the baby starting to grow in my belly. As I held him, my two-year-old ran into the room. She needed my attention and as I bent down to answer her request the helpless, wobbly-necked newborn careened backwards out of my arms. I caught him just before dropping him completely onto the faraway floor, but not before his newly minted parents saw it and probably wanted to grab him from my unfit arms. After the “incident,” I glanced horrified at my husband, the sharer of our baby secret, and gave him a wide-eyed look of, “what in the hizzle have we done?!” I know in my guilt-ridden, I almost just killed your kid paranoia, I said the phrase aloud, “We can never have more than one kid.” Whoops. That ship had sailed.
And so began the guilt about having a second child.
I firmly believe it is the greatest gift to give a child a sibling, but I never really knew I’d feel guilty about having another baby.
I feel guilty about the fact that I don’t have the time to sit around and daydream about our second child like I did with our first. I know I devoted hours to picturing my daughter’s hair, her lips, and her little hands. I’d pull out her little outfits and try to envision her chubby little legs filling them out. This pregnancy I spend my days tending to the needs of that daughter, the one I spent so much time dreaming of. The demands of my occasionally tiny toddler terrorist must be met with some urgency leaving little time to daydream about our second daughter.
Actually, I feel guilty that I don’t even think to daydream about our unborn daughter as much. I sometimes forget we’re having a baby. It pains me to say it because I feel like I’m shorting my unborn, but there are just not enough hours in the day. Some days I barely remember to brush the pearly whites, which won’t be for much longer with my negligence. I’m rolling up exhausted for bed, working my stretchy pants like a sex machine, and snoring before the lights are out.
I feel guilty that I’m three parts terrified, one part pooping my pants at having a second kid. Is it normal to have fear? Almost dropping my nephew made me realize this two kids, not enough hands business is real and intimidating.
I feel guilty that I worry I’ll love one child more than the other. What kind of monster thinks that? I’ve never had multiple children before and I hear the heart has room enough for all, but perhaps I’ll feel more connected to one child than the other. Is that a parenting truth no one has the guts to say? I mean most kids think their parents have favorites. (Favorite sibling of my parents, you know who you are and you know how we like to call you out for it. And by call you out I mean talk behind your back about it. We gossip because we care.)
I feel guilty that Harper has no idea how much her world will change. I watch her cock her sweet little head and pull funny faces to make me laugh, totally enamored with my undivided attention, and the guilt lodges in my chest. She’s thrilled by the idea of “sissy boo,” but her innocence at how much her world will really change breaks my heart. I feel like a jerk. She has no idea what’s about to hit her and it’s all my doing (well mine and my lover’s). I worry at how she’ll adjust to my divided attention.
I feel guilty that my attention will be divided. I want to be there for my daughters. I want to help them and guide them, but I know, at times, I won’t be able to. I hate to think that at times I’ll have to choose between their needs. Every day Harper asks me, “Where are we going today?” I don’t know how I’ll tell her “no where for six months” once the baby arrives. I know that’s an exaggeration but our world will slow and change and it’s nerve-racking.
I feel guilty that I’m growing to be a lazy-pile-of-sludge with each passing day. I enjoy running amuck with my toddler, but sometimes the loud and proud belly is a buzz kill to all her jumping, skipping, dancing dreams (read: peeing my pants). I try my darndest, but sometimes, pregnancy with a toddler just ain’t easy. It’s hard out here for a preggo.
I feel guilty that I am mourning the loss of being a “new” mom. There is something sacred in the harrowing, emotionally tough but sweet lessons taught to a first-time mother by her first-born babe. We have cried together, made mistakes together, but ultimately, grown together. We have learned together how to be a family. My first made me a mom. She gave me so many “firsts” and while I know my second child will still give me “firsts,” I feel guilty that she doesn’t have the same opportunity to be the first baby that expanded my heart.
My dog-eared copy of What to Expect hasn’t been much help on the subject either. I am finding I harbor a generous helping of guilt at any given moment. I mean I have guilt about having guilt for heaven’s sake…
Image: Me in all my exhausted pregnant glory