Our newest baby girl is now 18 days old and life has been radically changed. For the first two weeks, my head was in a haze, a dark thick fog in which I was not quite present. We were up well past midnight with a baby trying to figure out day from night. She’s slowly learning that we all prefer her awake time to be during the day. While pregnant, she kicked and rocked inside my belly all through the night, which was perfectly fine with me then, since those movements confirmed to me she was healthy and growing. Now that she’s outside the womb, those kicks and pterodactyl squawks between 11pm and 2am are not so eagerly anticipated or welcome. The hardest challenge for me has not been the lack of sleep; it’s been that I have a now 22-month-old daughter who is used to having 100% of me 100% of the time. Since coming home from the hospital, she’s gotten about 45% of me, which breaks my heart. I can tell her little face falls when she comes downstairs all warm and squishy from sleep, and I’m holding her baby sister instead of being the one reaching my arms out to hold her, or being the one to get her out of bed in the first place. Most of the time, she does kiss her baby sister on the head or will press her face against her sister’s in a leaning hug. Every once in a while, however, I see this flash of something wild in her eyes and she either lunges at her little sister’s head with her fingernails or whatever object she has in her hands. It rips my heart out of my chest to think that she’s feeling left out or less loved. My husband and I always wanted to have two children, either biological or through adoption. Our intention was to have a built-in playmate and best friend for our kids, not to raise a spoiled only child. Eventually, I know our girls will be best friends, but I had no idea how hard this transition period would be emotionally. The night before going in to the hospital, I held my daughter tight, while I cried openly just thinking about how our relationship would never be the same once our new baby came home. Her sweet big blue eyes looked at me, and said, “Shut the sad off, Momma.” She had no idea why I was crying, or why her daddy and I would be gone at the hospital for two days. She had no idea that when we would return home, we would have a new baby that would forever change our family dynamic. Yes, she knew in theory that “Baby Sister” was in Momma’s belly and that her heartbeat sounded like a swish-swish underwater (she had attended every OB appointment with me and observed the ultrasound heartbeat checks while sitting on my lap), but I think that was the extent of her understanding at 20 months old. Nearly every day for two weeks after having our baby, I’d cry hugging my oldest girl tight, overcome with emotion. Any time I laughed, she would look watchfully at me, and say, “Momma not crying,” so I could assure her I was indeed laughing and not crying. Now that I’m in post-partum week three, the mind fog is dissipating, the tears are shutting off, and my hormones are finding their equilibrium. Our family of now four is still in transition, figuring out our new schedule, our new dynamic, and how we all fit together. A wild, untamed, and uncharted future is ahead of us, but with lots of prayer, love, and laughter, and with some sleep, we will move forward. Both of our girls will know how much they are loved and wanted, and we will all look back and wonder how we ever lived without the other.
It is a physically and emotionally exhausting season! My daughter was 2+1/2 years old when our twins were born. I had complications and had to go back to the hospital leaving the twins at home with my husband and my mother. When I talked with my confused daughter on the telephone from my hospital room she asked me if I was going to bring more babies home. You are right. You will get through this time with “prayer, love, laughter and some sleep.”
Wow, Carol. You are a rockstar! Isn’t it amazing to look back and see what you did as a mother? Blessings to you and to your whole family. Thank you for your sweet encouragement.