I Feel Guilty About Having Another Baby

by Ashleigh Wilkening
Mother and her three kids
Ashleigh Wilkening

It goes without saying, the feelings and emotions associated with welcoming a new child are overwhelming. Immense happiness, joy, and excitement are all within the normal range of what’s to be expected — yet, with my second, and moreso with my third, I can’t shake an underlying guilt.

In theory, the ability to devote 100% of your time, energy, and resources to a single project or task yields the highest potential for success. What happens when you must divide yourself and your resources amongst three projects, each as extremely important as the other? Add in constant distractions and interruptions — would you still attain the same level of success?

Now apply this notion to parenting one kid vs three. Does this theory still hold truth? I realize parenting isn’t as black and white as a math problem, but I’m still left constantly wondering if I’m meeting each of my children’s unique needs and not leaving anyone starving for my attention. I love them more than anything in this world, but is that enough?

When I had my first child, I had the luxury of devoting my full time and energy to this single human being. With the addition of our second, I worried I would be forcing my eldest to grow up faster than he was prepared for. I was nervous about giving each of them the attention and love they deserved without anyone feeling left out. Recently after welcoming our third child, I feel all of this and more. Most of all, I feel like I’m failing more than I’m succeeding.

With three small children, someone always needs me. Although this is to be expected, when two or all of them are desperate for me at the exact same time, I feel like I’m always failing someone. Even with the best multitasking skills, I’m only one person with two hands, and it’s impossible to be everywhere.

I can’t help but feel guilty when I’m nursing my little one and my son is asking for me to sit and play with him, or when I’m busy helping my eldest with his homework and I hear a scream for me to come build a fort. The worst is when my son just wants me to carry or hold him because he loves and misses his mommy, but I can’t because my hands are full with something or someone else.

Every day, it’s a juggling act, and hopefully in time as they grow older, become less demanding and more independent, it’ll be easier. Until then, my heart will pang every second my children need my attention and are forced to wait longer than I wish they had to.

Every time we welcome a new family member, the youngest is no longer the baby. In an instant, they are immediately transformed into an older sibling. What if they aren’t ready?

A new baby is a huge adjustment for everyone in the family, especially for the siblings. I remember once that baby arrived and I brought them home, it seemed like my other children grew up overnight. I was more prone to transitioning them soon after, initiating a move to a big-boy bed and potty training. Then there was enlisting their help with the baby with requests for fetching blankets and wipes, and although they were eager, pleased, and proud to be included, I wondered whether I was putting too much pressure and too many expectations on them?

At the end of the day, my husband and I love our children with every fiber of our being, always wanting what’s best for them. I hope they grow up reminiscing about their childhood filled with laughs, smiles, and fond memories, not feeling left out, longing for attention, or resentful in any way.

Their childhood will be filled with plenty of sharing from toys to precious time with Mom and Dad, and they undoubtedly will be wearing more than their fair share of hand-me-downs that, as they grow older, will most likely be met with fierce displeasure. But I hope they value and appreciate the lifelong friendships they have in their siblings.

If these early years and their established relationship prove a testament to what’s to come, then I have more than enough validation. They already have such a strong bond that will grow with time, and although it may be a struggle to equally divide myself amongst the three, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When my son tells me how much he loves his sister, I’m reminded. When my other son tells me he misses his brother while at school, I’m reminded. When I see my boys playing together, smiling and laughing or hovering around their baby sister completely enamored with her, I’m reminded.

Any moments of guilt quickly subside as I’m reminded how lucky and blessed I am to be their mom and the beautiful, special relationship they have with each another.

This post originally appeared on Bless This Beautiful Mess.