My 4-year-old daughter couldn’t stop talking about her new baby sister coming. Every night, we’d cuddle before bed while she laid her head on my belly. Her sister would kick from inside of me and my, not so baby anymore, would light up with joy. I remember one night, a few weeks before my second baby was born, I held my little girl a tiny bit longer while she slept in my arms. A lump in my throat ached below my ears as I tried to hold back the tears. Soon, she wouldn’t be my only baby anymore.
The transition from one to two would be a major shift for all of us, but I remember thinking of how it would be for my first child. I knew that in the big picture of life it would be one of the best gifts we could give her — a friend for life. Even so, in that moment I was knocked over with emotion that she might feel sadness about her experience of the change. She might feel her own grief of who her mommy used to be when it was just us. I acknowledged the heartache and knew that this was part of it. Motherhood tends to split you wide open, over and over. Maybe to make more room for even more love? I felt so powerless over how my little girl would process sharing me with her new sister. She holds emotions that I couldn’t always manage. I just hoped I’d be able to be there for her through all of her feelings and continue telling her how much I loved her. Then, my thoughts shifted to trying to imagine what my new baby would be like. I obviously had an inkling that it would be another life-changing experience, but I just couldn’t know until I knew. So many people shared their stories of having baby number 2 or 3. They all would say that the love you have inside you just grows when you meet your baby.
This is what happened for us…
My heart expanded at immeasurable proportions. My second baby nestled right in to the most vulnerable space inside my heart where my bond to my first baby girl resided. My newborn felt like home immediately, like a primal instinct connection. It was effortless and I am still amazed at the human heart and how it is unlimited, boundless, with no end, stretching to make more room. My heart didn’t split in two to give to each of my kids. It multiplied tenfold.
My four-year-old walked into the hospital room to meet her best friend for life — her new baby sister. As she shyly approached us while chewing on her hair, she suddenly looked a little older. She seemed to understand that this was a major life event. She climbed up onto the hospital bed and stared intently with a deep wonderment and awe. She nuzzled under my arm while I held her little sister in the other. As I nursed my newborn who stared right up at me, her chubby little hand grasped her big sister’s finger. With that reflexive clasp, I can tell you now, that was the beginning of the most extraordinary love I have been able to witness.
They are now almost 4 and 8-years-old, connected at the hip. Wherever big sis goes, little sis follows. Whatever big sis wears, little sis wants to match. Anything big sis does, little sis wants to do too. When my younger daughter was almost 3, she was hospitalized with a necrotizing pneumonia and an empyema. My older daughter would come to visit and brighten her little sister’s spirits in between surgeries and treatment. My older daughter would climb up into the hospital bed with her sick little sister and watch a movie together. My little one would grab her big sister’s finger, just like the day they first met. I realized then that I could never have anticipated the depth of life and love that becoming a mom to two would be.