It was only this week that I ventured a delicate subject with a friend – a fellow mummy of three. It is a subject which I never discussed with anyone, basically from fear of the looks I would get from other mothers. I have always wanted to pose the question, from the moment we started talking about children right up until the minute Bettina was born. I never found the courage to ask the question, not even to my own mother, but somehow I have been thinking about this subject recently and this week the topic popped up when talking to my friend.
Looking back now, it is a ridiculous question, one I have no idea why I feared, but at the time it was on my mind. Constantly.
Do you ever love the second child as much as you do the first?
Motherhood opens up a universe of emotions. Everything comes to surface, all is new, and the amount of love you feel towards this small and fragile stranger is amazing. You find yourself doing things you never imagined you could, and you smile through it all. Everything is fresh and bursting with love. It is the reason why many mothers say how they can never imagine going back to a life pre-baby. It is because life and priorities shift so tremendously that even if you put feelings aside, there is no rational way of ever going back. You give birth, you become a parent and your children are with you always and forever.
So big and enormous is this mass of love you feel for this tiny little baby that it is frightening, elating and surprising. Ten years ago, would someone have ever told me that I would be waking up at 6.30am on a Saturday and Sunday morning to a cooing baby, and smile about it, I would have called them crazy. Whenever we went out I would start preparing for the night out for at least an hour before. Now I am lucky if I get fifteen minutes to prepare myself for an evening out. My bags are full of baby wipes and empty biscuit wrappers and my pots of makeup are now under lock and key or else destroyed. And somehow it is okay and I don’t mind.
Now imagine being so enamoured and so wrapped up in this tiny being who you’d move earth for, and then find out another little on is on its’ way. With our situation, we were waiting for Bettina eagerly. She came at the perfect period for us all. Cesca needed a sibling to ground her a bit and we did not want to let too much time pass for a second baby because we knew that the more time passed, the more difficult it would be to start the baby-routine again. Things were happening in the background, and add to that the silent fear I would sometimes experience when I’d think of a new baby, my panic attacks started and they threw me off balance.
I now know that the cause of it all was fear. Too many things were happening at the same time and I did not know if I was prepared for it all. Funny really, considering how I did the first two and a half years of Cesca’s life alone with her and I never ever doubted I could do it. But a second baby, a job and a new school for Cesca, made me worry about handling it all. Luckily enough they all turned out to be unfounded worries, but try telling that to a pregnant woman midway through her pregnancy. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to handle.
Underneath it all, and perhaps at the root of it all, I would start questioning how I could love another baby as much as I did Cesca. I spent so many hours during Bettina’s pregnancy thinking how I would be cheating Cesca out of my love for her, with the arrival of a new baby. I feared showing preference towards Cesca in front of the new baby and having the latter notice this.
And then Bettina arrived and everything shifted. Suddenly everything was clearer and simple. I had gone round the whole issue the wrong way. For it was not halving the love I had for Cesca in order to share it with Bettina. But it simply was doubling the love I had for one, for two. The enormity of emotions Cesca brought with her just doubled. As my friend told me, each child comes with their own universe of love. And that is true. I then understood so much more than I did before. Cesca and Bettina have different characters, each come with their own baggage of love, they are both unique and I can not think of one without thinking about the other. Cesca makes me laugh, and a minute later we’re both smiling at something Bettina did. There is never any hint of jealousy, of preference, for they are two separate portals of love.
So I finally got the answer to the question which had been brewing in my mind for ages. Each child is a blessing, and the most amazing thing is that whether you have one, two or six, you love them equally, in different ways perhaps, but somehow they all hold your heart. Parenthood is an amazing blessing. It baffles you at times, drives you up the wall at others, but rewards you with the simplest and purest form of love. Or loves.