I was playing with my second son yesterday. He will soon be 8 months old. I delighted in his giggles and smile and excitement over trying to stand up. While watching him it struck me that there was a time when I worried about his place in our family. How could that have been possible? He is so much a part of this family that of course I cannot imagine what it would be like were he not here.
My husband and I toyed with the idea of having just one child after our first son was born. How fun would it be to be able to focus on just him, to make him the centre of our world? However deep down we knew we wanted him to have a sibling. We didn’t want him to feel alone in the world in any way. Though neither of us are particularly close to our siblings, we love them, we know they are there and maybe one day we’ll be able to say we are friends with them. It was true, that ultimately a second child was a given. We wanted them to have each other.
We got pregnant the second time quite quickly. So quickly in fact that I was a bit startled. I was expecting it to take a little time like it did for the first. I was planning to use this period of “trying” to get used to the idea of a second. Not so, before I knew it we were on our way, the second ‘bun in the oven’ with no time to spare. Of course we were thrilled, but unlike with my first, I also felt a spasm of fear. This time around I really knew what it was like to have a newborn and a baby in the house. The memory of the sleep deprivation and loneliness that came from being at home alone with a baby for long hours was still fresh. I wondered how I could possibly manage the intensity of the early months and a preschooler. I didn’t think it would be pretty.
Fear also came from wondering whether the second would displace the first in any way. I knew that I would love them both, (okay secretly I had trouble imagining that I could really love another the same) but more than that I didn’t want my first to feel any less special or loved when the new baby arrived. I wanted him to continue to feel like the centre of our existence, just a centre that now housed two wholes. I was afraid that this baby would eat into my relationship with my first and I didn’t want it to change.
I soon discovered that there is far less time to worry during the second pregnancy. It zips along like nobody’s business and soon you find yourself just days from a second life altering birth. My second son arrived on his due date. This birth experience was very much like my first, but at the same time very different. I bonded with him much quicker than I remembered bonding with my first. I was ready and prepared to make the most of those early hours and days in the hospital. Any fears that I had about loving this little baby were dashed as soon as I saw his face.
The next hurdle for me was his introduction to his big brother. I remember my oldest peaking his head into the hospital room, a look of sincere anticipation on his face. He crept over to my bed, looked at the baby and with a genuine expression of awe exclaimed “He’s so cute.” In that moment, I knew everything was going to be alright.
And I was right. The transition to two kids has not been without struggles, yet the relationship that has blossomed between my two boys has gone better than I could ever have imagined. I see every day that they love each other, and I thank God that he saw fit to bless us with two boys who would have each other forever. The birth of our first son was extraordinary, but our second made our lives just right.