There is a ton of information out there about how to help ease your child through the addition of a new baby, however there is very little available about how to ease our own transition going from a mother of one to now two. And this isn’t surprising as mothers are often encouraged and conditioned to focus their attention and energies on others rather than themselves.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I was terrified. (For the record, I was terrified with my first as well, but that’s a whole other article.) Unfortunately, as mothers, there seems to be very little permission given to be forthright with our actual experiences. Whether actual or just perceived, there are expectations that we are just supposed to be excited, joyful, and thrilled to welcome our new little bundles of joy.
While it is likely true that we are filled with joy and excitement, there is often another side of the experience that very rarely gets heard, expressed, or talked about. For myself, my biggest fear was that I wasn’t going to love my new baby as much as I loved my son; I truly didn’t think it was possible, thinking I was capable of generating that much love. When I shared the truth about how scared I was I was met with quite a bit of confusion, some gasps, and an overall sense of dismissal, silly pregnant mom saying silly things, must be the hormones.
The feelings of fear and uncertainty that come up during a second, third, etc. pregnancy can seem especially shameful because we do tend to have this assumption that we’ve been there, done that, we should a lock on this one. The reality is pregnancy and new babies are scary, even for veteran moms. It’s a venture into the unknown, and the unknown is scary. Even though we’ve gone through a pregnancy and new baby before, we all know that each pregnancy and each baby is its own unique experience. As human beings, there are very few of us that are actually comfortable with the unknown and we often cause ourselves unnecessary pain just to avoid the unknown. As moms, we like to pretend that everything is just great and that there is nothing but positive feelings around our new chapter, but this is rarely entirely true.
Having a baby will redirect many of your interests, pleasures, and resources and can profoundly impact all of your previous relationships, including those relationships with your other children. As with any new experience, there is also the loss of what once was. No matter how much you love your new baby, your previous life and the ability to devote all of your attention to just one child, or walk out of the house only having to worry about one other child, will be gone and this loss can be as painful as any other loss one might experience.
It’s important to remember that your role and identity as a mother is an ever-evolving process. What comes up for you with your additional pregnancies will be unique to you and your own experiences. You may not fear being able to love your second child, as I did, because perhaps you already come from a bigger family and have experience knowing the endless supply of love available. You may however, have a profound fear of being unable to manage two children running around in a park because you don’t trust your ability to protect your children. The fears that come up for us as mothers highlight the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves.
Understanding ourselves and what makes us tick is an important part of being an effective parent. Allowing space for our experiences, all of our experiences, not just the ones we deem acceptable, will deepen our connection with ourselves and ultimately our spouses, children, and all of our relationships. The bottom line? Your feelings are completely normal. And you’ll be fine.