That is the title of the email I received.
I receive a lot of emails.
I’m not complaining. I truly do read each and every one. I love to hear from you. I’m just not always able to answer them all, but I try to help as much as I can.
This email came last week and it tugged at my heart strings. With the permission of its sender, I’m posting for you all to read:
“Hey Shanna! I wrote to you a while back about having 2 kids under 2 (at the time) since I’m about to have my 2nd and my 1st is only 17 months old. I have a personal question and I hope you a) don’t mind answering and b) have time to answer. :-) I guess I won’t hold it against you if you don’t though. :-) This pregnancy, like your 2nd and 3rd, was unplanned and closer to the 1st than I’d like. I guess I’m feeling not nearly as connected to this pregnancy and this child as I was to the first. I often find myself with thoughts of resentment and guilt and wonder if I’ll really want/love this baby when he arrives (in 13 days!). Did you experience any of that? If so, how’d you handle it? Any advice? I’m sure they are normal feelings – I’ve learned that we all have feelings that we don’t share with others and therefore think that we are the only ones feeling them which is absolutely not true. So, while I hope you didn’t experience this, I kinda hope you did. :-)”
If there is one thing I’ve learned with this blog, it’s that we are not alone. As girls, we typically have armies of friends that will quickly wrap their arms around us and give us advice or helping hands when we need it.
Trouble is, we don’t always ask.
Or we think no one else could possibly feel like we do.
When I read your comments and tweets, I’m always reassured that I AM NORMAL. That all the craziness in my head and my day, and the spinning from left field to right field to manage this family is NORMAL. That YOU do that too in your day. We all do. Yet we are still afraid that we are alone in the struggle.
My response is that you are not alone and that yes, I have been where you are.
In a conversation with my sister and mom one time, my sister said “Isn’t it weird that as each of your children is born that you love them so infinitely from the start.”. That her heart was so completely full with equal love for each of her children.
I remember feeling blank. My answer was not the same.
When I was pregnant with Hayden (baby #2) I WAS super excited about it, but I was also pretty laid back with the pregnancy. I mean I had JUST had our first baby, I “TOTALLY” knew what I as doing. We just laughed that we were pregnant with #2 and thought this will be NO BIG DEAL. Addie had been an easy baby, so this would be a breeze for us.
From the get go of Hayden’t birth, it was not easy. I think I was in shock that first week in the hospital from the whole emergency C-section and the thought that I could have died and left Mike, Addie and our new baby alone. Plus the balancing act of missing my 11 month old baby and worrying about her at home, just didn’t put my in a good place. But after we brought Hayden home, those first 3 weeks (which I like to call the “Honeymoon” period) were very easy and without issue.
It’s week 4 to week 16 that nearly killed me.
This is not to say that Hayden had any major health issues or problems. But during those 14 weeks I had a 1 year old that was still very much a baby, and a new baby that required A LOT of attention, and did not fall into a schedule as easily as my first had. We were on multiple planes and multiple time zones for different family functions. It was a crazy period.
And I was feeling so much guilt that my children were so close together in age and that each required so much from me, yet I wasn’t able to give adequately to either baby. Addie was still very much “my first baby”. The baby I understood and knew so well. I did start to resent Hayden. There are a lot of finger directions I could point to as to why I felt this…Post pregnancy hormones, guilt that I would soon be going back to work, sleep deprivation playing tricks on my brain to name a few. Whatever the cause, I was feeling resentful. And then I would get mad at myself. She is JUST A BABY! But my overly tired head was not always as kind nor thinking as clearly. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think anyone in the outside world knew this struggle was going on in my head. This is purely an internal battle. Hayden has always known love from me, life was just tough during that time.
But then it changed. It was sometime around month 4. I had recently been laid off from my corporate job (I had been back at the office a week), and we had just figured out that Hayden had trouble breaking down the proteins in her formula which was causing her stomachaches and fussiness. I was laying next to her on my bed and she looked up at me so innocently and with such a big smile…my heart melted. I knew that it wasn’t Hayden that I was resenting. It was the lack of me and the lack of time. I just wasn’t feeling like I could do all those things for all the people in my life. But then I realized that it may not be ideal to have our children this close together, but that you find a way to make it work for each of them. You may be challenged by the timing and the situation, but you are BLESSED with those little people that can make our hearts more full than anything else could. I knew as a mom that I needed to give everything I had to my family. That I needed to MAKE TIME to MAKE IT WORK. I looked at Hayden as “Hayden, my baby” from that day forward. I knew that she was not the problem, nor the reason of my resentment, she was just more joy for our family. She is my little Giggle Monster that I love and am SO THANKFUL for each day!
But to answer the question, no my heart was not full when Hayden was born. I had to find my footing, and the reason for the 1/2 full feeling. But when I did, my heart was and is beyond full of love for that little one, no matter how challenging the age difference is!
About this time we found out we were pregnant with Piper. Honestly, we couldn’t and didn’t talk about it for the first trimester. We went 13 weeks with no mention of my pregnancy. It was unfathomable to us that this could have happened again. We did not tell anyone in our family until I was 5 months pregnant. We probably would have held out longer, but my youngest sister was getting married. I was in total denial that I was really pregnant, AGAIN. If I thought I was nonchalant with #2, I was practically on the floor with how calm I was with #3. I was calm in such away that this pregnancy was not real. In the back of my brain I was upset. I was being robbed of time with my babies. I would leave the room and cry when I saw our nanny crawl around on the floor with the kids. I would be so sad when I had to call my husband to help me get one of the babies lifted in or out of their crib. I was mad to not be able to cherish each moment of them being BABIES. This of course makes it all sound so dramatic, but no one looking at me would have known. I seemed perfectly fine to the outside world. I took it in stride and was pretty mellow about everything. I didn’t really let on how upset it made me.
My husband would see me silently cry at night sometimes. But I’m sure he chalked it up to pregnancy hormones, and they probably were partly to blame.
But then Piper was born.
And yes I have been filled with love for her from the start. I didn’t know I was ready to love another baby, but I was. That week in the hospital was wonderful. I had been able to plan perfectly for that time and knew my other babies were well taken care of at home and would come visit me everyday. I was able to enjoy Piper and get to know her and just love her. So different from last year. Last year I was trying to still be a mom to Addie. I was trying to deal with the stress of a near death event. I felt torn in so many directions. In truth, when Hayden was born I was not really an “experienced” mom yet. I don’t think you really get those wings until sometime after your baby is a year old AND you have had a second baby. THEN and only then are you really seasoned.
When Piper was born, our family just fell into place. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my rough patches and struggles. But for the most part, I have been able to enjoy and love on these babies like never before. (Mostly because I’m NOT PREGNANT.) In some ways I get to experience each of them IN each of them. I’m enjoying the baby stage in Piper. That stage I didn’t get to fully enjoy in each of the others while I had each new belly growing. And while I enjoy this time with Piper, I look at photos of the other girls at this stage and feel as though I’m living their baby stages again too. In Hayden I am experiencing the joys of being 1. And it’s a cute and funny stage. And with Addie, the “I’m growing up and am SUCH a big girl at 2”. And man is a it a cute age!
I also find that I’m calmer with it all now. Not to say that I don’t have my freak out moments, I still do, but for the most part I’m calm. I think I’ve entered the “experienced” mom category. And the nice thing about being here is that I ENJOY just BEING with my kids, DOING things with them, and UNDERSTANDING them, and understanding my role as their mom.
So is it easy to have your kids this close together?
But is it easy to have kids at any stage?
It’s not easy to be a parent. But as I’ve said before, if you can find a humor in the moment.
You will survive.
If you can grasp reality and figure out how to help yourself in the situation, which may just be to laugh or to cry, then you have done something. And doing something is what matters most.
In the end, the time is SHORT, and it flies by. Enjoy the moments you have with your kids, but also allow yourself the time to feel unsettled and to feel sad if you need to. Your normal.
We all are.
Then lift yourself back up, or find a friend or two to help, and get back to enjoying your life and your littles.
You deserve it and so do they!