Growing Family

Growing Family
By Jenna Wilber:

With a toddler waiting just outside the bathroom door, I saw the second line appear and the rush of emotions started to sweep over me. Absolute joy that I was indeed pregnant again and that my son was going to be a big brother, but also the concern— how am I to love another child the same way as I love the one right in front of me?

I remember that feeling washing over me all throughout my second pregnancy. I knew from close friends that had multiple children that the feeling is normal, but once the baby comes, your heart grows—just like after becoming a mother, you cannot picture your life without them. But still, all those words of affirmation couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just not possible to feel the same way I do about my firstborn child, as I will with my second. How could it make sense that the division of my time and attention would NOT equate to the division of my love?

I was filled with anxiety during the third trimester that continued into what ended up being my hardest labor yet. The moment I pulled him up onto my chest, I knew that what every person had told me was absolutely true. There was life before him, and life after him, and I would never want to live a life without him in it.

When our second child was 5 months old, we were struggling to balance life with two, and had resolved that we’d probably wait at least a few more years until maybe having another. It might be an understatement to say it was rather shocking when a few weeks later my period decided to not show up, and those 2 lines appeared again. Fast-forward 40 weeks + 1 day later, and the same “How could there have been a life without you?” moment happened, while I held my daughter on my chest - again the healing balm to those fears of adding another child to our family. Since then, we have had 2 more children and miraculously, that feeling happens every, single, time.

Now with our oldest being 9, (still trying to make sense of how I have a 9 year old, and can only imagine how my parents feel having a 31 year old), welcoming another baby into our family 4 months ago had a certain level of ease about it. Don’t get me wrong, it is still the most incredibly difficult, exhausting work, but now there is someone asking to hold her next, or to fetch a diaper, or grab the toddler a snack, or to just sit with me while we fawn over how cute baby girl is. There have been countless times that I have found the older siblings snuggling her, kissing her, rocking her, or even “surprising her” by letting her “borrow” one of their beloved prized possessions. The countless ways she is loved upon is well-beyond what my husband and I can ever solely give her. She has a built-in network of cheerleaders as she makes her first smile and a team that will encourage her as she takes her first steps. Down the line, she’ll have brothers to help her move or to be by her side after a heartache, and a sister for confiding secrets or to complain about how much of a nag I am. Even farther down the line (I hope), they’ll have each other for support when my husband and I are no longer around and they are left with only one another.

My husband and I have lost quite a few loved ones these past few years and something that has struck us both is witnessing the beauty of having siblings to share the weight of grief with. It can be easy to get stuck in the here and now of how strenuous being a parent is, which is completely true and valid, but when I set my sights on the bigger picture of what reality will be like in 15, 20, 30 years from now, it makes the day-to-day much easier to appreciate, knowing that they will always have a sibling to lean on.

If I have learned one thing while having these kids and watching them grow up together, it’s that what a wise woman once told me about having another baby is absolutely true: your love will never divide, it will only multiply.