Certain things seemed incomprehensible, like how manage the broken nights without naps during the day or even how to deal with putting a trolley back at the supermarket with a baby and a wandering toddler. I have no idea why the later of these two concerned me so much at the time because it was never really a problem, but that was just one of a few things that I could not imagine how I would manage with child number two.
The biggest surprise to me, however, was nothing to do with the practical complications but actually something that never even crossed my mind. I knew that I was gaining a baby (a bit obvious) and that would add some complications to my life. I knew that I would fall in love with this new little person and that my life would be immeasurably enriched by him. But what completely came out of the blue for me was an unexpected feeling that I had lost something.
I was mystified. Hadn’t I just got what I wanted?
Once I was home from the hospital I got on with all the things I had to do, realising that I was actually a lot more confident and capable the second time round. I had forgotten how tough the nights really were but knew that I would get through them. Things felt like they were going to plan, as much as can be expected in those first few days, but I found a strange sense of loss creeping up on me. I was mystified. Hadn’t I just got what I wanted?
Surely I had gained a baby, so loss, where had that come from? But the feeling kept resurfacing at odd quiet times. It genuinely felt like I had lost something and I knew that something was my eldest son. It made no sense to me in that moment.
My eldest boy was right there, well actually he was playing downstairs whilst I was putting the newest edition of the family to bed whilst pondering this unexplained state of affairs.
Don’t get me wrong it was not the only feeling I had, it was in the mix with all the other emotions that come with having a new baby. But it still persisted, a quiet whisper that came into my dreams and my waking thoughts. Then one day I realised that I had actually lost something. I had lost that unique one-to-one relationship that I had with my eldest son. Up until then it had just been me and him much of the time (with Daddy at weekends). We were a team, a pair, exploring the world together and now that was gone. There was another person there, needing my time and attention.
We had gained a son/brother but lost the undivided time and attention that we could lavish on each other.
A quiet whisper that came into my dreams and my waking thoughts
Once I knew what the feeling was, it slowly dissipated. I had to accept that the status quo had changed and that it would take time to adjust. I guess I was caught unaware because all I had realised with a new baby on the way was that I was gaining something. And of course in the long run we all gained. I had another son to love. My eldest had a brother who he adored (although he was angry with me for quite a while afterwards; he felt the loss too) and I am so pleased we had another child.
The majority of the women I interviewed for my book were first time mothers and so I could not ask them if they had experienced this. I have met women who did, like me, feel a temporary sense of loss with the birth of their second child. I would love to know what you found? Does it ring any bells with you?
So what is next?
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