Becoming a mother, again.
I was looking through some family/maternity pictures and so many thoughts and feelings came flooding back...
I had a feeling that Amelia was going to be born early. She was not. For WEEKS, everyday I woke up thinking, "Is this the day? Will we meet her?" and every moment I had with Evan, my first baby, I wondered, "is this the last time we will do this, just him and I?" It felt so different anticipating a birth and new life, the second time around. Becoming a mother, again, is different in many ways than becoming a mother the first time.
For one thing, with my first I just couldn't quite fathom any of it. I took classes. I read books. I heard stories. But I did not KNOW... Labor, birth, bonding, breastfeeding, loving, sacrificing, struggle, sleeplessness, and delight in my child were things I had to LIVE to learn. No words could have told me what love for my son would feel like, how it would wreck me and build me all at the same time. I wasn't afraid. I felt fully equipped. I knew the Lord, in his great goodness, had built into me all that I needed to do this momming thing. But still, it was a mystery.
With Amelia, I knew. I knew how my capacity for love would grow. I knew how my whole world was going to change, how much I was going to give of myself, and how much I was going to receive. I was so overwhelmed by that, in the best of ways.
But I was also sad, because with the gain, came a loss. Evan had been my only baby for over 3 years, and suddenly he was going to have to share me, and I was going to have to learn to divide and share my attention with both of them. "It's just you and me, mama! It's JUST you and me!" are words Evan often said to me with such pleasure and love. We had our own special rhythms and such a bond, and though I knew these things would always be, I knew that our rhythms were going to evolve as a new season unfolded.
As the season of "just you and me" was coming to an end, I did my best to cherish every moment. I made sure to take a ton of pictures, to help me to never forget. I gave him extra hugs and kisses (and extra is a lot because we are pretty serious about hugs and kisses around here) and talked to him every chance I could get about how special he was to me and how nothing would ever change that. I told him over and over how excited I was to see him be a big brother and how I knew he was going to be amazing at it. We read lots of great books about bringing a new baby into the family, over and over again. He was excited, and as prepared as a 3 year old can be for such a change.
A week after our due date, and so very ready to not be pregnant anymore, I went to my midwife for all the usual overdue baby checks. Everything looked good and my body was getting ready. I was having some contractions and she said she wouldn't be surprised if she saw me at the hospital the next day. I woke up the following morning with more contractions and, though they weren't very strong or regular yet, I thought maybe things were getting in motion. Jon worked from home and hung out with Evan while I went on walks around the neighborhood and up and down our stairs all morning, to help my body along. My focus was primarily on labor and getting it to progress, although I did boil some eggs, stop to chat with neighbors, and eat some super yummy gyros. By lunch we knew it was for sure the real deal and we made sure that our people were ready to be with Evan when it was time to leave for the hospital. When I suddenly realized THIS... WAS... IT I hit a wall of sadness! I didn't need to wonder anymore, I knew... This was the very last day that Evan would be my only child.
He found a box of old photo albums and wanted to look at all the pictures from Jon and I's lives before each other. It was a sweet sentimental thing for him, and for me - as I came to terms with the fact that my boy's life was never going to be the same again. I joined in the picture looking when I could between contractions, snuggling up beside Evan. He seemed to really be treasuring the moments. I eventually had to walk away. Things were getting more intense. I couldn't stand still or sit any longer and I needed to let the sadness wash over me with the contractions. I cried a lot of tears in corners of my house, and they had nothing to do with labor pains. They were tears of mourning.
In the late afternoon, things ramped up suddenly and intensely. Jon and I realized I needed to be at the hospital, kinda quickly! I shot off some texts finding someone to come over for Evan ASAP, we explained one more time to Evan that this was the day and that he would get to meet his sister the next day. He was so preciously excited and accepting.
We made it to the hospital, with contractions coming non-stop. About an hour later my water broke on Jon’s feet and with 5 or 6 pushes, my midwife instructed me to reach down and grab my baby! It happened so fast and felt like a vacation compared to my first delivery. (Ya know, the kind of vacation that is a super crazy intense and fast pushing of a 9 lb human out of a small opening in your body. So, not a vacation. But it was a lot faster and and way less traumatic, but equally and differently beautiful and glorious.)
There she was, another piece of me with another piece of the one I love, joined together to form a piece of my heart who now lives OUTSIDE of my body. It sounds hokey, but it’s real. I relished in her and all of her newness and wonder. I couldn’t believe how quickly she came (after so much waiting) and I was so excited that she was born before Evan’s bedtime so we could call him and tell him she was here!!!
The next morning, Jon brought Evan (and coffee - God bless him) to see us at the hospital. (Pictures included below.) Evan loved his baby sister with his whole being, right way. And we melted into a puddle of adoration as we watched their siblinghood unfold before our eyes.
The transition to life with two has been beautiful and messy. It is a new season, full of new challenges and a glory all its own; but the mourning I did that day beautiful day was an essential and truly beautiful, to me, part of the process. I’m glad I let myself feel those feelings because I can see now how they created the space in me that was needed to get to here.
I want to always remember how that felt because I want to remember how much I truly treasured my time with only one child. I want to remember that mourning is a part of embracing new seasons, and that without it our hearts can’t fully move forward. I want to remember that hard emotions are just as beautiful as the easier ones and that they have important jobs to do in our lives.
Amelia is a treasure to our family and I am so delighted by her presence. Her arrival in our lives was just perfect in every way and she, like her brother, is teaching me new things daily.