Six weeks after my daughter was born, an email landed in my inbox that sounded like it had come from the inside of my own head. A reader, J, wrote to me that she was pregnant with her second baby, and that she was excited, of course…but also scared. Scared of how her life was going to change – rewind from the calm of the toddler era to the madness of the infant period – and scared that her relationship with her first baby would be…not lost, but dimmed somehow. Pushed aside.
Her email was such a relief to me to receive, because I understood it completely. I had struggled so much with these fears myself and experienced such enormous guilt about them that…I guess it just helped to know that others felt exactly as I did.
“I’m scared,” she wrote, “because life right now is pretty great. I feel like we’ve just started to get out of the weeds of all the baby stuff and are having more and more fun as a family. We are both still able to pursue hobbies and have down time to just read or watch TV, etc. We travel. We go on adventures. We’ve got our systems down and life is pretty calm and smooth.
“I’m scared that while all that was possible with one, we can forget it with two. It seems like every single [website] I read says two is impossible and you can kiss your own life goodbye. I feel selfish even admitting that I need time to myself, but honestly? I need that time to be able to be a happy, fulfilled person who can be truly present when I’m with my son.
“And I’m scared for another reason. I really related to your post, ‘So Here’s What I’m Afraid Of.’ Sometimes lately, I look at my son and want to burst into tears. It’s not so much that I’m afraid I won’t love this second child. Logically, I know I will. But I am scared that having this second baby will change the way I love my son. We have a blast together right now, reading and playing and snuggling. Will I be able to do that? Or will I just be so tired and stressed out that I’ll just yell at him and tell him I’m busy?
“I ache from missing him already.”
This email broke my heart, because I remember these feelings so well.
I know exactly what this reader was talking about, and I was also so excited to reply…because I had really, really good news for her – and for you, if you’re expecting a child and going through something similar. Below is what I wrote to her, printed here mostly because this is something I would have loved to read myself when I was pregnant with my daughter and frightened of all those changes that were on the way, whether I was ready for them or not.
(Keep reading for my response to the reader…)
Check out my newest book, The Big Fat Activity Book For Pregnant People, on Amazon