Yesterday, I was on the phone with a momma friend who was telling me how excited she was to be having a boy again but how scared she was about having her life on pause for another 2-3 years again. She felt like she was just getting out of the woods (or as the mommas in my circles call it- The Laborinth). I felt like everything she was saying was taken from every internal monologue I've had in the last few months. I'm also scared to be overwhelmed by having two because I now know the amount of dedication and commitment that goes into raising a child. I didn't give less than every part of me to my first little one and I know I will do the same with this coming baby. But a part of me feels like I have lost some of ME in the process. Some thing I remember so clearly about the first few days after my little one was born was not looking into my husband's eyes for a few days. There was just always something to do- a diaper to change, a spit up to clean, laundry to fold, nursing- and I was always in "go" mode that I hadn't stopped to take a moment with him. Then finally like 3 or 4 days in, I stopped for a second between a lightning-speed shower and a diaper change, took his hand and looked deeply into his eyes in the dim light of our bedroom lamp and began to sob. I was deeply moved by our moment of connection and happy to be having it but also afraid to face the fact that our lives had changed tremendously and forever.
I think about those first months- the sleep deprivation, the anxiety, the expectations I put on myself, the depression, the physical pains, the emotional roller coaster- and I wonder, "If all of that happens again, do I have what it takes to get through it?" I did it once, so I suppose so. But I have to say now that I KNOW what could come up, I am so much more afraid of giving birth this time than the first time. It's usually the other way around I hear.
I haven't slept in a few days because my little one stopped sleeping through the night. For whatever reason, she has started to wake up to nurse again. I am exhausted. But more than that, I feel so defeated. Motherhood is always about choices. Mostly difficult ones. And you never know if you made the right decision except for the feelings in your own internal compass (if you are lucky enough to have it accurately calibrated after such an event as giving birth). Whether she needs more comfort right now because a baby is coming or because she feels me wanting to let go a bit or because her molars are coming out, the fact is she needs it. And the question is am I going to give it? The answer so far has been yes, but because of it I feel spent and exhausted. So I have to make a decision, do I give her the comfort she is asking for or do I ask her- a toddler- to meet me where I am. I'm sure in the history of the world, no mothers had to ask this question. It seems to me like it has mostly always been like this: there is a baby crying, let's help it feel better. That is what makes sense to me. Toddlers need help feeling their feelings and they look to their parents for that first and I feel it is our job to answer the call- every time.
The reason I feel defeated is because I am so full of questions right now. My pregnancy has put me in such an emotional state (this one more so than the first) and I feel so raw again. So, I feel I can't make any decisions. I feel pulled in so many different directions- doing right by my first baby, keeping my second baby in mind, setting things up to make things flow well for both of them, finances, relationships, personal evolution, etcetcetc. So, even though I have been giving her the comfort she needs more of now, I can't help but feel I'm taking away from ME. I flounce back and forth from, "She's going to have to learn to deal with her emotions" to "I will always give her the comfort that she needs." And I can't decide if I am spoiling her or doing what is the highest good for her. And if you're a momma, you know that every decision feels like it's one that will impact the future of your child from that moment on so you feel desperate to make the "right" one.
I'm not like a lot of mommas in that I don't believe that by giving a child unconditional love you can spoil them. I think that is what we're supposed to do. But since I was raised differently around that than the way I am raising my daughter, something in my constancy feels almost wrong. When I listen to that is when I get all screwy in my head about parenthood. But when I just do what I FEEL is right, I can give unconditionally and not worry about the future repercussions on the lives of my children. The big question is lately- at least with me- how do I silence that fearful voice that tells me I am doing, giving, loving too much so I can be a momma the way I want to be? That question has brought so many more with it.