My husband and I had always agreed that we’d like to have two children. Our daughter Peri was born in July of 2013, and I became pregnant for the second time in October of 2015. Sadly, I suffered a miscarriage in early November of that year. At that time, I was in my last year of school, so we waited for a little to try again. In July of 2016, on the very due date of the baby I lost, AND after a missed fertility treatment, I became pregnant again. (How’s that for a sign?).
Now, I’m more than 30 weeks pregnant and gearing up to welcome Baby Girl Two. This baby is very much wanted, will be welcomed and loved, and, despite the missed treatment, really was planned. So, here’s my confession: until recently, I have felt like I’m cheating on Peri when I think about Daughter Two. By this, I mean that when I’ve talked to my bump, especially in front of Peri, I feel a twinge of guilt. Sometimes when I think about the new baby, I feel disloyal. I find it ironic because part of the reason we wanted to have two kids is to help teach Peri empathy, sharing, patience, and that her needs aren’t the only ones that need to be met. Besides, what kid doesn’t want a constant playmate? Alright, but you get the idea.
These guilt feelings have led me to ask myself: Am I subconsciously protecting myself in the event of another loss (which is unlikely at this point in the pregnancy, but always a genuine possibility)? Perhaps. But I think that the real cause is because Peri has been the very center of my world for three and a half years. I have a hard time imagining expanding that world to include someone else. Somehow, I feel as if I’m going to be replacing my daughter with the new baby.
Because I was a full-time student for the first three years of Peri’s life, I have been able to care for her almost exclusively. When I was in class, my mother in law watched her, or we got a sitter, but the rest of the time was Mommy and Me (papers were completed before she woke up or after she was in bed at night). Of course, my husband spent time with her, as much as possible, but I was with her almost constantly. Even now that she’s in school, she’s only there for three hours a day, four days a week, and my husband works long hours. I prepare her meals, dress her, bathe her, read to her, take her shopping, to ballet, to swimming, to the library and the park. She is the Sun, and I am the Earth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And even if I sometimes feel like all I do is “mother,” I don’t regret how all of this quality time has strengthened our bond. I know everything about her; her favorite colors, favorite princesses, what foods she likes and dislikes, and I can typically predict how she will react to almost any situation or stimulus. Peri has enriched my life in ways I did not imagine, and it makes me wonder how we could be that lucky again. Can lightning really strike twice? If one child has made us this happy, will two make us exponentially more so? Or will Baby Number Two always come second? Or is it possible that the shine of a new baby will cause Peri’s to dull? Aren’t new things always a little bit more exciting than what came before??
Of course, people have multiple children all the time, and (as far as I can tell) they love all of them equally. Heck, my paternal grandparents had eighteen children, and I’m sure they all felt loved.
My friends who have more than one child tell me that they felt the same way while waiting for the second (or third). They didn’t imagine that their heart could get any fuller than it already was. They had trouble imagining (as I do) that they possessed enough love to spread any more around. But they did, and I know, deep down, that I do, too. In fact, as we get nearer to my due date, the thought of having two kids instead of just one becomes more real. And I feel sure that once they put her in my arms, that neither she nor Peri will detract from one another, that no one will replace anyone, that our family will, in fact, feel complete.