I’ve been a mother for the last four years, and some days I feel like I have it completely together. More often, I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. But who am I kidding? I typically vacillate between these two feelings and spend most of my time somewhere in between. But the shorthand is that I am a veteran mom. I’ve changed poop, wiped snot, dried tears, sometimes all at the same time. I’ve navigated temper tantrums in public places and made it out alive (and my toddler did, too!). And I’ve done late nights, early mornings, and napless days (for me and my son). So, when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I had a false sense of security. I thought I was ready for anything.
The truth is that I was not ready at all.
I wasn’t ready for the overwhelming fear that I would never be able to love my second child as much as I loved my first. I would look at Leon and feel that love so strong that it made me lose my breath. And I would think that I didn’t have enough room in my heart or breath left to lose for my son-to-be. I remember every milestone that occurred throughout my pregnancy had a new gravity. As it was the last time we would have that particular experience as a family of three. Although I was so excited to welcome our new baby into the world, I was so afraid of losing the sweetness I had with my firstborn.
I wasn’t ready to decide who would keep my son when my husband and I went to the hospital to have the baby. And I cried when my mother suggested that she keep him at her house the night before. (I had a scheduled C-section, so she thought that way we could leave for the hospital uninhibited in the morning.) I insisted that he stay the night with us. And my kind and patient parents drove 35 minutes from their house to ours. Just so that I could have one last night with the three of us. One last night of cuddles on the couch before bedtime. One last night to sneak into his room to make sure he was okay. One last night for him to sneak into our room and climb into the bed next to me. I feared those sweet moments would be gone forever.
And I wasn’t ready to be so very wrong about everything.
The fear I had melted away the first time I heard Ramsey cry while we were still in the operating room. I can’t explain it. But in the very moment that I thought I had no room left in my heart, Ramsey showed up. And he brought with him all of the love to stretch my heart’s capacity beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Every moment since his birth has been a new and exciting milestone that we have gotten to experience as our brand new family of four.
After Ramsey was born, my husband Keith brought Leon into the room where Ramsey and I were waiting. I’ll never forget the look on Leon’s face the first time he saw his baby brother. All of the love that was in my heart was right there on my husband’s and son’s face as they looked at the newest little member of our family. And in that moment, the world was right, and we were complete.
Of course, that sweet moment was immediately followed by one in which Leon helped to put Ramsey’s hat on his little newborn head.
He stretched the hat as far as it would go and then allowed it to snap in place around Ramsey’s head, triggering his very first startle reflex. And thus began the roller coaster that is our life with two boys. With more twists, turns, ups, and downs than I thought possible.
The first time Leon climbed up next to me on the couch and snuggled under one arm while I held Ramsey close to my heart with the other arm, I wasn’t ready for my heart to feel so full it might explode. I wasn’t ready for the joy on Leon’s face when I was finally able to pick him up and hold him after recovering from my C-section. When Leon sang his first lullaby to Ramsey, or the first time Leon smiled at Ramsey and Ramsey smiled back at him, I just wasn’t ready. There are so many moments that I can’t describe them all. And I know there are so many more to come. And I’m beginning to understand that there is no way to be ready for these moments that sneak up on me in my new family of four. Before Ramsey was born, I thought I wasn’t ready for all that I would lose when he came. But I see now that I just wasn’t ready for all that I would gain.