When the topic of a second child came up, my thoughts were “I would love for her to have a sibling. Someone to grow up with” and also, “will I be able to love a second one like I love her?”
Which I am relieved to tell you, is a thought that crosses so many mothers’ minds – you are not alone!
I don’t know if every parent can relate to how I felt because there are so many different factors. My daughter was an only child for 4 years and I stayed home with her for 2.5 of those years. She was my little mini best friend – we did everything together.
The thought of another child was hard to imagine when it had been just her for so long. When we told her the big news, she instantly fell in love and had nothing but positive responses. She loved on my belly and talked about all the things she wanted to do with her little sister.
I, however, was still torn on how I could possibly love another child as much as I loved her. I cried to my husband so many times (to which he tried to understand but assured me I’d love them both equally). I googled all of those “To my first daughter” articles and they all assured me it would be okay.
And it was. I do not feel like my love has been divided or stretched thin. I do not feel like I have lost anything from my relationship with my eldest or that the bond with my youngest is any stronger/weaker than my bond with my eldest. Everyone said I would love them equally and I do. Everyone said that you’ll forget all about it when you see how it much they love each other and I did – it melts my heart every time.
But note, I am writing this when my youngest is already 3.5 months old.
I don’t know if I would be able to have written this 3 months ago as confidently. Nobody told me that I wouldn’t be so sure of all those feelings in the beginning. Or that I would get angry and heart broken when my 4 year old told me she didn’t like her sister. Nobody told me how aggravating that “love” my daughter had for her sister would be when I was nursing and she wanted to kiss all over her.
Or how her wanting to help with EVERYTHING would also end in a constant “No” or “Back up” and the tantrums that followed because all she wanted was to love her sister. I think those words were used more in the first 2 weeks after I had my second than I ever have in my life. Or that the patience I once had for her emotions and the support and understanding I once had for her would dwindle down to almost nothing. Yes, I still loved her no less than I had before – but so much else had changed.
The whole time I was focused on how I could love a second child the way I loved my first when really what I was struggling with was how to continue to encourage and support my first daughter in her new role as a big sister. I was struggling because she had never needed me like this before. She had grown so much in just the few days since her sister had come into this world. She was older, wiser, and more aware of everything going on. She was so much more understanding. She was so independent.
One day, she was blowing raspberries on her sister’s stomach (which looks terrifying on a 6 week old) and I told her to stop. She looked up at me and asked “why?”. Then, she asked if she could make her own bowl of cereal and I said, “No.” and she again asked “Why? When I told her she had to wait until I was done with the baby, her response was, “Can I do it by myself?”.” I realized, there was no reason why she couldn’t. The baby seemed to actually be enjoying the raspberries being blown on her belly (despite the fact that it looks like she was being crushed – I really struggle with this one as you can tell) and as she argued, “the milk was low, so I won’t spill it.” Which who cared if the milk spilled – she was learning and exploring something new.
What does she need from me?
The love and support she needed from me was different now. She needed me to believe in her – not do for her anymore. Everything had shifted. I adjusted to this newborn baby fine – I had done this before. I knew how to take care of her every need and keep her comfortable. But, now, I had this independent 4 year old who “Stop. No. Don’t do that” had become words she heard too often from me and I was holding my “big girl” back. Now that we’re 3 months in, I do feel the way most of those articles I mentioned described. I sit back drinking my coffee and soak in the sight of my newborn cooing at her big sister. We all sit down at night and laugh at the new thing that the baby is doing. My eldest talks about how she misses her sister when she goes to school.
I was so worried that I wouldn’t get “special” time with my eldest anymore now that her baby sister was here but I’ve learned to cherish and make the most of the one on one moments I do get with my eldest. And to stop what I’m doing when she wants to do something because those dishes will still be there and I really didn’t want to fold that laundry anyway. We’re all learning to find a good balance and I’ve finally realized there is nothing to worry about.
So, after 3 months of experiencing the reality of having a second kid and all the rambling I just did, I am here to say, YES.
You will love your second child as much as you love you first.
You will have special moments with each of them alone and both of them together. Your love will not run out and it will not be stretched thin.
But your love will be different.
You may love your second child in a way you loved your first a long time ago. And you will love your first in a way you’ve never experienced before. I do not know how to explain it. The way you look at and view your oldest will change. They likely will look years older. They’ll probably be upset with you more often and they’ll need you in ways they’ve never needed you before as they continue to grow. You both will be adapting to this change and trying to figure out what things will be like now that there is another sibling. And it will not happen instantly.
But you will still love them both just as much.
Thank you to guest poster Almany.
I am a stay at home mom new to the world of blogging. I google pretty much everything and find a lot of comfort knowing that I am not the only googling these things about parenting. So, I’ve set out to write about my experiences so that other parents are able to find they are not alone when they are googling in the middle of the night 🙂
Check out her brilliant site Exhausta mom and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org