It was a sweet September morning in the Northwest, the kind that hangs on for dear life to summer but anxiously awaits the crisp air of the fall. My daughter, Harper, was nine months old and showing off a newly found ability to find her way all around the house via strong arms and tough knees. And my husband, Alex, and I were in our bedrooms with a positive pregnancy test in our hands.
It took me about three minutes after the birth of my daughter to know I wanted more kids, and that I would love for them to be close in age. Our second pregnancy, unlike our first, was not a surprise, but two pink lines almost always do surprise you. Still, there we stood, both excited and nervous and praying prayers for a healthy baby and giddily telling our little crawler that she would be a big sister.
But then life moved on, and it felt it did so without baby number two. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer two days after we found out about the pregnancy, we took in an eight-year girl for respite care for three months, and all the things that make for a house and home and family life still needed attention. Had I not felt on the verge of sickness all day long I might have altogether forgotten about the little human inside of me.
We found out that we were having a son on Christmas morning, and that did wonders for the connection of my mama heart. And of course, the popping belly helped as well. I felt much better during trimester two, and moved from wishing away the days of pregnancy to actually enjoying them a bit. Still, our unborn son didn’t take up as much space in my heart as his sister did when I carried her, and the guilt of that seemed to hover over me daily.
As we got close to the end of pregnancy, my capacity for physical activity diminishing just as my seventeen month old daughter’s need for it was growing, I started to actually mourn the loss of our family of three. “It will never be like this again,” I thought as I watched Harper blow bubbles in the driveway. Our routine of a morning walk and breakfast and cuddles before naptime would very soon be replaced with on-demand nursing and the constant swaying of a fussy newborn, and I wondered if I could love another baby like I loved Harper. She was my firstborn; I thought of her and prayed for her every single day of my pregnancy, and this new baby, while I wanted him desperately, he would divide that love and our time together, and I feared what those changes would do to my ability to be a mom.
But then on May 9th, Cannon Lee was placed on my chest for the first time. Easy labor, a two-push delivery, and the sweetest little cry in history. No division here, friends. We did not just add a baby, we became a crew of four and fell so deeply in love with that seven pound boy. It was heart-swelling love. Forever love. Not merely a little bit more of the same kind of love I felt for Harper, a whole new kind of love for my little family.
I’m not a perfect mom, far from it. But I love my job fiercely. I love my daughter’s independence and how much she likes books and Dora, and I love my son’s tight grip on my pinkie finger while I nurse him. I love the way my husband cares for all three of us. I love that the laundry is never done and that we can sweep twice a day and still find crumbs on our socks. I love it because this is our life of four. I thought adding a baby would take away something, but the opposite has happened, and I cannot imagine life without him.
Motherhood’s math is not like other math. Two crying kids feels like five, and just because it takes two minutes to get one child in the car does not mean it will only take four to get two children in—I’m closer to ten minutes on a good day, if Harper keeps her shoes on. Vacuuming the carpet three times does not always mean zero mess left, and four hours of sleep interrupted by an hour of crying actually feels like no sleep at all. But there is not one part of this that I would change. Not one.
(Well, I wouldn’t hate a little more sleep).
Adding a baby might seem like a simple one plus one, but it feels a lot more like multiplication. And let me tell you, the love of your heart follows suit, and it fills and overflows more than you can imagine.
Written by Katie Blackburn