That I haven’t written anything about the fact that I’m expecting another baby says a lot about what it’s like to expect a second baby.
I’m 29 weeks pregnant and, inevitably, pretty shattered. Looking after a three year old, working, navigating a pandemic, and growing a small person is pretty knackering. We did this on purpose – this is not a complaint – but it is a statement of fact. I’m tired.
But it’s more than that. The real reason I haven’t written about this is because I’ve been distracted by overwhelming feelings of treachery. We’ve created somebody else? To love just as much as our daughter? How could we do that to her?!
All being well, our newest addition will come into our lives in July. We’re all incredibly excited about it. Our daughter changes her mind everyday about whether she’s having a brother or a sister, and speaks so sweetly about how she’s going to help us with him/her. (She also, so far, hasn’t shown any interest in how the baby got into my body beyond wanting me to confirm that I didn’t eat it, and long may that continue.)
We have great chats about how life will be and what an important role she has to play. I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction from her.
I didn’t feel treacherous straight away. We decided to try for another baby for all the reasons you’d expect. We want another child in our family. We’d like our daughter to have a sibling. And I want to hold and smell and dress and stare at a newborn we’ve created again. I found out I was pregnant in November and was so pleased.
And that’s never changed. But as it all became more real, scans happened and my body started to change, other feelings kicked in. I’d stand in my daughter’s bedroom after she’d gone to bed and think ‘How will she ever forgive me? She is the centre of our universe and now someone else will be too. Is she going to put up with that?!’
However, as you may have noticed, we’re not the first people in the world to have another child. Second, third, fourth and more children have been appearing on this planet for a long time. I’m a second child myself and my mum assures me she felt exactly the same when she was expecting me. My older brother seems to have forgiven me for existing, so it all worked out fine in the end!
I think this all happened because I was scared my capacity for love wouldn’t stretch far enough.
It’s a good thing I was already lying down when our daughter was born because her arrival absolutely floored me. The love was instant, beautiful and terrifying, and it’s remained that way ever since. When you’ve already reached such a peak, how can there be room for more?
But of course there just is. I’ve been connected to the baby in my womb since October, and I love them very much. I’m readying myself for an avalanche of emotion when they arrive, knowing full well that you can’t really prepare for such a thing.
I cannot imagine how I’ll handle having two pieces of my heart existing in the world. I’m scared that being a mum of two means nobody will get the attention they deserve, that I’ll always be letting one of them down… and a whole other list of things that keep me awake at night.
But then something happened that made me feel a bit better. I was sitting on the floor playing with our daughter and the baby kicked. Normally it’s just a nice feeling that I find reassuring, but this time it felt different. I was suddenly simultaneously aware of both my children existing together for the first time and it made sense. It’s going to sound bizarre, but I felt space grow in my heart for him or her, right there alongside my daughter. I have room for both. I will love them both, with everything I’ve got.
It turns out that love is like Cadbury products for me – my capacity is endless.
People have asked me how this pregnancy compares with my first. And the answer is: it feels exactly the same and completely different all at once.
Just like last time, I’m large, tired and permanently hungry. I might as well live on the toilet I have to go so frequently. And once again, we have no idea what’s going to come our way during the next 10 weeks and beyond.
But then it’s also totally different. I’m utterly distracted by our daughter. I’m pregnant in a world which is unrecognisable from that of 2017 when she came along. Many people in my life haven’t seen me for a second of this pregnancy, and won’t until our baby’s here. In many ways I’m more rested than I was last time, as I don’t commute or socialise as much. But I’m also pushing myself more at 29 weeks than I ever would have before. I want to get outside with my daughter and have some FUN before I disappear into my own personal lockdown.
Just like no two children are the same, nor are their arrivals into our lives. I can’t give our baby the same experience as our daughter because they’re not being born into the same world. They will join an established family of three. They will only ever know a post-pandemic UK. And they won’t just have toys and clothes waiting for them when they get here, but a beautiful big sister too.
I am in no doubt whatsoever that we’re in for a right time of it. We’ll be exhausted, pulled in every direction at once, and we’ll feel inadequate a lot of the time. But after almost three and half years as parents, we’re pretty used to that.
What I do know is that I will love them and that we will do our best, for both our children. And that as long as we’re doing that, we won’t be letting anybody down at all.