On Monday, I shared some thoughts on the last two months of this pregnancy and some of my “goals” for fun and rest before the baby arrives. But, today, I’m talking a bit more about my heart, my fears, and how I’m recognizing that – no matter how hard I try – I’ll still never really be prepared…
A few weeks ago, I ran into a friend who’s wife has just recently had their second baby. When I casually asked, “So, how’s life with two?,” his face did this thing that I’m beginning to recognize from all of my friends with new babies (especially second ones)… It said, without any words, “It’s wonderful, but it’s really really hard.” He looked tired.
And just like that – it hit me. Sure, I’m decently organized, and I have all the “stuff,” I need for a new baby (which, I know now is a LOT less than I thought it was when Sam was born); but, truth be told, I’m not the least bit prepared for having a newborn again.
The first few months with Sam were HARD. I was probably overly prepared when it came to reading all the books, taking classes (we took, like, a million), setting up neatly organized little changing/nursing stations all around the house, etc. etc., but none of it made a lick of difference. Sam was colicky (which, I’ve come to accept is just a semi-medical term for a baby that cries a lot for no real reason), he wasn’t remotely interested in my schedule or plans, and – probably more than anything – I really mourned the loss of the mom I thought I would be… I’d always felt like I was “made to be a mom,” but when the opportunity sat in my arms in the form of a screaming infant, I felt like I had been painfully wrong. I wondered if I would ever understand this baby and know how to meet his needs, I feared that he really didn’t even like me very much, and I grieved my “old life” when I had control over my own schedule, knew what was expected of me every day, and could sleep for ten hours if I was tired. I was scared that I had gotten myself into something I, actually, wasn’t very good at at all, and there was no turning back now. I missed quiet nights with just my husband, “to do lists” that could actually be completed, and – the very most – I missed the “motherhood” I had prepared myself for in my head during those nine months when Sam was baking…
Thankfully, it got better… It was hard, and long, and broke me in a way I had never experienced before; but, I learned to rely on God and to surrender to the fact that, though I wasn’t the “perfect mom” I’d imagined – I was the perfect mom for Sam. One of my favorite bloggers recently described bonding with her (colicky) firstborn as bonding “like war buddies.” YES.
Part of that hard transition was why we waited three years to start trying for a second baby even though we always knew our family wasn’t complete with just one… In the last year or so, life has gotten back into a familiar rhythm. Sure, it’s very different from the life we knew pre-baby; but, it is a little less frantic these days. Sam’s schedule is predictable but adaptable. We don’t have to take seven million bags with us every time we leave the house. He eats what we eat. He will watch a whole movie by himself if I desperately need 90 minutes. You know.
And, now, here we are again… Jeff and I keep telling each other, “it will be hard,” but I think in the back of our minds we’re really thinking – “It can’t be as hard as the first time.” It can’t be. We’re due an easy little angel baby, right?
So, the truth is, I’m not prepared.
Thankfully, though, these last four years have taught me that motherhood really isn’t very much about being prepared at all. I imagine that the first few weeks with our girl will be, like before, a lot about survival. They will be exhausting and emotional, and I’ll probably question if I had any business having another baby. BUT, the difference this time will be that I will know that THEY PASS. I will look at my three-and-a-half year old (the one telling knock knock jokes, asking for cuddles, having dance parties in the living room, and holding my hand while he eats his dinner) and remember that it does get easier. But, more importantly, that every single bit of adjustment and sacrifice and hard work is WORTH IT. It is worth it a million times over.
I know that now. I didn’t know it in 2011, but Sam has taught me that being a mother – though completely life/identity changing – is the BEST thing I’ve ever worked for.
So, I guess really, I am kind-of prepared.