Back when I was pregnant with A, I was so scared of how having a second child would affect D. In fact, I was so focused on D that I wasn't even excited about my pregnancy. Even though A was a planned pregnancy, and I was happy about it, during the entire 9 months I was worried about how D would react to having a baby sister. I was also sad at losing my "alone" time with him. For 26 months, D and I were inseparable. I was with him all the time, rarely leaving him. He was my light, my joy, my sunshine. You know that "honeymoon" stage you get when you're in a new relationship? That was me and D for two years straight.
I was so sad at losing our one-on-one time, and so worried about how D would react, that I felt oddly detached from the pregnancy. Not depressed....but like I said, I wasn't EXCITED about her. I did all the right things----got her room ready, had a baby shower--but my focus was on my son. I was also scared that I wouldn't love her---how could there be room in my heart for another baby? The love I felt for my son was so great, unlike any love I had ever felt. (In fact, later, when she was born with so many birth defects, I thought that God was punishing me for not being excited about her. When I told this to my rabbi, he allayed my fears, telling me that God would never punish me for such thoughts or emotions.)
Before A was born, a friend sent me the following poem, whose author is unknown.
I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship. Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: how could I ever love another child as I love you?
Then she is born, and I watch you. I watch the pain you feel at having to share me as you’ve never shared me before.
I hear you telling me in your own way, “Please love only me”. And I hear myself telling you in mine, “I can’t”, knowing, in fact, that I never can again.
You cry. I cry with you. I almost see our new baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared. A relationship we can never quite have again.
But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty. I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying her—as though I am betraying you.
But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection.
More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine. The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast.
But something else is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just we two. There are new times – only now, we are three. I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other.
I watch how she adores you — as I have for so long. I see how excited you are by each of her new accomplishments. And I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you. I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you.
I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong. And my question is finally answered, to my amazement. Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you—only differently.
And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I now know you’ll never share my love. There’s enough of that for both of you – you each have your own supply.
I love you—-both. And I thank you both for blessing my life. --author unknown
This poem came at the right time for me, as I read it right before A was born. And, of course, we know the rest of the story. I fell in love, head-over-heels-madly-in-love--with my daughter within seconds of her being born. D loves his sister, and she idolizes him. He is so protective of her, so proud of her. A few months ago, I was talking to my husband at the dinner table about her upcoming IEP. I was crying, saying that all I want is for her to be a typical child, but no matter how well she does, she'll never be typical (she'll always, always have her hearing and balance impairments, if nothing else). D asked, "what does typical mean?" I responded that when you're typical, you can do things that other kids can do. His response was "what can't A do? She's amazing!"
A IS amazing. And so is D. I'm a lucky, lucky mama that I have the two of them. And they're lucky to have each other.