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I often think about the parents I know who have a bunch of kids. Three or more is what I consider a bunch. I know a few families with five or six or eight. I don’t think this is good or bad, I just don’t understand how it works. As someone who was an only child until the age of seven, and then a proud big sister of one, and as a mom of an only child for nearly six years eagerly anticipating a baby, having so many children seems like an impenetrable mystery to me.
As it is, I’m having a hard enough time dealing with the transition from one to two even though number two won’t be born for a couple more months. And in case you didn’t know, number two was and is extraordinarily wanted. There is no question about that. And even number one has articulated her desire for a younger sibling for several years. She’s wanted it as much as we have. And even now she hugs and kisses my belly (and her brother) good night every evening. She talks to him and feels him kick and helps pick out clothes and toys for him. You couldn’t ask for a more devoted big sister-to-be.
But what’s proving difficult for both of us is–as much as the size of my belly increases daily–there seems to be less and less of me available to her. It’s nearly impossible for her to sit on my lap, which makes both of us sad. It is sometimes excruciatingly painful for me to sit on the floor with her. Even snuggling with her at bedtime is a challenge. I take up too much room in the bed and it’s difficult and painful for me to get up and down so I am less willing to rearrange, hand her the cup of water, or generally comply with what used to be routine requests.
I have been told by more than one person–both medical professionals and compassionate friends and family members–that she just has to deal. This is just a preview of what’s to come in terms of her having to share me and my attention with her brother. Of course I understand this is true. But that doesn’t make it easy. This is the child to whom I have given my whole heart and my whole self for several years. It seems cruel and selfish to feel like I’m holding out on her. Yes, I understand I’m not actually being cruel or acting selfishly, but that’s how it feels. Do you get that?
I know it will all be worth it and that the joy and adventure of having a sibling will be fantastic for her, and our new family composition and dynamic will be wonderful, however it plays out. But it’s a big freaking change.
Friends keep asking me if I’ve wrapped my head around the idea of having a boy. This is something I was previously worried about, which now seems very silly to me. Now what I’m trying to comprehend is just how different this baby’s existence will be than Zoe’s. Not better or worse, but different. We’ve been invited to participate in a loose group of new and expectant parents, most of whom are first-time parents. There was a lot of discussion about when to have an initial meeting, and several couples said they couldn’t meet until after a certain date when their kids had received shots, or after a certain number of weeks, because they weren’t supposed to be out of the house, or around people. I just had to laugh. Maybe we were the exact same way when Zoe was born. Truthfully, I don’t remember. But this time around, probably when he’s a week or two old, I will be taking this boy with me to pick up Zoe from school, to take her to tae kwan do, and basically anywhere else Zoe needs to go, and just hoping no one sneezes on him. This is reality. And clearly zillions of other parents do this all the time. Most parents in the world don’t have the luxury of cocooning themselves and their babies in germ-free isolation until a specified date. And I’m not asking for that. But just envisioning how much the baby’s schedule will revolve around Zoe’s, perhaps until he’s old enough to have his own schedule, is hard to absorb. I know it will be fine. I know we’ll figure it out. But we are spoiled by what we’ve dealt with for the past several years in just one child. And that’s been complicated enough.
We will probably buy a mini-van. Someday, hopefully not in the too far distant future, we’ll move from our townhouse to a slightly larger single family home. But in the meantime, our kids will share a room. Life will change. And we will adjust. I know there’s plenty of love in my heart to go around. I just wish sometimes that there was more lap.