The nursery is being transformed. This room, formerly awash with blues, greens, and monster stickers on the wall, now boasts pink accents and flowers. Tiny dresses are hanging in the closet. For the last year it has lain dormant, with my soon-to-be middle and his older bunking together in anticipation of the time when we would need this space again. Does he even remember when this room was his?
But suddenly, every night, and sometimes throughout the day: “You rock me mommy?” hands stretched upwards, eyes pleading. “Rock me little bit?”
Yes, my baby, a thousand times yes. We head to the nursery and I position him as comfortably as I can manage around my swollen belly. He sighs contentedly and I squeeze him a little too tight, knowing these days are numbered. We are just weeks away from his little sister’s arrival, and I’ve been here before. I know what this means.
When I was pregnant with my second, I worried and wondered. How would I possibly love another baby as much as I loved his older brother? But then he came, and… well, of course we’ve all heard this story before. There was plenty of room in my heart for them both, I loved them each as much, blah blah blah.
But that isn’t actually what happened. He was born, and, fairly quickly I’m afraid, I loved the baby more.
For me, newborn love is all consuming. It’s falling in love versus being in love. It’s obsessive love. It’s a thousand kisses a day, an hour, a minute. It’s wanting to be with the baby every second… feeling physically adrift when the baby is not in my arms. Much of this, of course, is just plain biology. My system is flooded with oxytocin in an effort to ensure that I attach to this helpless new creature who is so dependent on me.
But still, to me, the contrast was stark and fairly unsettling. Suddenly, everything my then 2-year-old did seemed just a little annoying. It was suddenly harder to respond to his incessant demands and frequent tantrums (fueled, no doubt, by anxiety over the changes in our family). I just wanted to snuggle the baby, to wrap myself in a cozy postpartum cocoon, but I had to cope with this swirling ball of emotion and energy at the same time.
It all evened out, of course. The new baby haze lifted, I moved from the intensity of falling in love to the stability of being in love, and at 2 and 4 they now have equal billing in my heart. Yet I suspect that when their little sister makes her grand debut, for a brief moment in time, they will be edged out a little.
So in the meantime I will try to soak up every snuggle, and pour every ounce of love I am able into them. During this last month, I will try to slow down and take my time with them. Fill their tanks with enough extra care and attention to get us through those difficult first months of baby. When she arrives I will try to lean on my village for my boys’ sake, arranging dates for them with grandparents, friends, and family. I will remind my guilty heart that, in time, it will all even out. And I will try to open up my cocoon enough to let them in as well, because they, too, will be falling in love.