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Postpartum Soundbites: Week 1, Part 1

Being born again as a mother for the second time is a whole new experience, and with that, I mean that when a mother births her baby, it is a rebirth of herself as well. No matter how long or short your labor and delivery are, it's just as intense, transformative, and emotional. My due date was supposed to be today, March 28th, but my son arrived exactly one week early, just like his older sister did. He was born on a Thursday, also just like his sister. My husband got to pull him out, and just like his sister, daddy cut his cord after the blood stopped pulsing. So many similarities, and yet drastically different from the birth of my daughter. I'll tell my full birth story at a later time, but the day overall was as close to perfection as it could have been.

Since that almost-perfect day, life has drastically shifted. Unlike what I expected, it’s not the lack of sleep or nursing around the clock that has me overwhelmed and emotional this time (although I’m sure it’s not helping the cause), but rather the weight of the change that adding a fourth member to our family has caused for my daughter. She turns three in exactly one month. I can hardly believe it. When I finally coaxed her into my hospital bed, after handing off the new baby to someone sitting far away, the incredible reality of how big she was in comparison to this new little life hit me like a ton of bricks. Every limb of hers seemed so much longer, her skin didn’t seem as soft, and boy was she heavy. I felt my heart crumple inside my chest I as realized this was also the day that I had given birth to my big girl, who in no way was a baby anymore. Just typing this makes me cry so much…

The guilt has set in as the days have passed. Have I forced my daughter to grow up too fast? Have I abandoned her in a way she can’t be expected to understand? Do I have any chance of being just as good of a mother to each one of them now that there are two, or will I always feel divided?

My daughter cried when she entered the hospital room and saw me holding my son. I thought I had prepared her enough. She seemed so excited before his arrival, asking almost every day if he was coming out yet. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been holding him upon her arrival but instead made space for her to settle into the new environment first. She was so scared – of mommy looking different, being somewhere different, and me holding a little stranger that she was now expected to love as her own. That night she went home without us, while we stayed at the hospital, was the first night we’ve ever spent away from her. It was excruciating to think about what she must have been feeling after the biggest day of her life and not being able to return home to the comfort of mommy’s and daddy’s arms.

I could have stayed a second night in the hospital to be cared for, but I couldn’t bear the thought of putting her through that again. Once we were home, she seemed to warm up to having a brother. She started with kissing him at his feet, asking a lot to see him, and grimacing at his crying while assertively proclaiming, “Mommy, he needs milk!” We had talked a lot about how/where the baby would come out and how/what he would eat, so she was confident in her understanding of all that. I thought things were falling into place. Little did I realize that this was the beginning of everything falling apart…

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