When my first baby napped, I lied right there with him. Sometimes we’d drift off together, other times I’d just stare at his peaceful little face. When he’d wake, I’d count his toes, and sing him songs.
I walked around the grocery store with him attached, asking him what kind of bread we should buy, and what to make for dinner. Of course he couldn’t answer, but that didn’t stop me from talking to my buddy.
I watched him learn to walk and let him toddle in the fields, any direction he chose. My life was his, and I followed his lead.
We’d go on bus rides and subways just for fun. We’d go out for ice cream, and one time he got sick afterwards, and I cried and worried, and didn’t leave his side.
I woke up to his kisses, and we’d play under the covers. He’d jump on top of me, and lean over my face laughing. Everything about our day felt slow, and I all my attention was his.
I’d steer the car with my left hand, and stretch my right one back so we could touch. We were best friends. At bedtime, I’d wrap my arm around him till his breath got heavy. Although I kind of wanted to sleep train, I also liked his nose next to mine.
As my belly grew, I worried. Not about delivery. Not about breastfeeding and diaper changing. Not about losing sleep, and heaps of dishes. I worried about us. I knew our relationship would lose some of its intimacy by the simple fact it would no longer be exclusive. A strange part of me felt like I was betraying him.
When the new miracle entered our world, I was happy, of course. But I was also sad. I missed him, even when he was right beside me. I thought of all the hours we spent hand in hand, sharing one world, and it felt so leisurely and sweet.
I cried because even though I knew everything would be okay, I also knew things would never be quite the same again. It’s funny how change, even the kind that gives you something so wonderful and new, can still be experienced as the loss of something else. For me, it was our twosome.
The transition was as hard as I suspected, if not harder. I’d just get the little one to latch, and he’d call for me from the bathroom. I didn’t know how to wipe a butt with a newborn attached to my breast, but I also didn’t want to tell him yet again that he had to wait because I was busy with the baby.
I tried to do all our normal things, but I couldn’t follow his pace and lead anymore. I carried a ticking time bomb in a baby carrier, and rather than adventure as we pleased, we had to get back for a nap, or a feeding, or a new outfit. I needed the comfort of our home, because being out and about was no longer relaxing.
As badly as he wanted to ride on my back, I wanted to give him a ride, but it just wasn’t as comfortable as it used to be with someone else now on the front. As badly as I wasn’t to continue giving him all of me, I just couldn’t because I had less hands, less time, and less patience. All the things I feared.
I gave him one-on-one time. We’d go to the beach and out for lunch, but there was a new pressure to it. I used to be happy as long as he was, but now I had someone else to consider. The limitless time we once shared, became something we had to plan for, and if it ended in a fit, I felt defeated. I became accustomed to the feeling, and went to bed many nights feeling guilty. I’d want to wake him up to hold him and kiss him and tell him sorry for not knowing how to navigate it all, but Daddy always talked me out of it.
As the months passed by, we found a new groove. Although the transition to a family of four was tricky, he took to the role of brother with ease. When we grew tired of the baby’s colicky cries, he stayed near him, kissing him and speaking soothing words. When I shared a bed with the baby, he showed me the opportunity it gave him to get closer to Daddy, and their intense bond that budded then has only grown.
It’s funny I used to think that having another child was taking something away from him, when it has really given him so much. He has a brother, and that’s deeper than I ever imagined. When I brought home a newborn it was hard to understand the way they would become best friends.
I knew siblings are special, but I was so focused on our relationship, that I didn’t consider the relationship between the two of them. I hoped they’d get along, but I couldn’t see then the way they’d kiss and chase each other. I didn’t know they’d grab each other’s hands and dance around in a circle chanting “Oh yeah, oh yeah!” when excited. I didn’t picture their heads resting on each other while watching TV, or cracking each other up while splashing in the bath.
Just as it was apart of my journey to have more than one child, it was apart of theirs to have each other. I used to want to say sorry, but now I feel inclined to say, “You’re welcome.”
The only way our intimacy has changed is that it’s shared between four people now, and that’s really special.
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