When I had my first baby, my son, he became the center of my life. It really changed everything for me. I stopped working for pay outside my home. I was suddenly a different person- a mother.
My sleep patterns changed (or were eliminated), my body was totally different (like- fluffier), my marriage changed, my husband was suddenly a different beast, everything was different!
And even though the first few weeks made me weep like a crazy person with uncontrolled and unfamiliar hormonal fluctuations, I just loved him so much. I mean, love beyond what I could imagine. And it all seemed so surreal. Was this really my child? Oh my gosh. Could this be REAL?
I don't know how to explain it all, but it was very different and sometimes difficult for me.
Then he got older. I started to notice women around me who were a little farther ahead of me in the game of motherhood. They already had their second child. I will be honest. Some of them seemed kind of...crazy. Or overwhelmed.
Frankly- I didn't want to be crazier or more overwhelmed. I was really happy with just my one perfect baby.
And then, when he was about two, I got pregnant again. I don't remember trying to get pregnant, it just happened and it was something of a shock.
Truth be told, I spent almost the entire pregnancy horrified.
I found out I was having a girl. Horror again! Girls are mean to their mothers! She would hate me!!!! This fear was combined with other irrational fears about suddenly finding our car in a river in Texas and my kids being stolen at Disneyland. (I am actually normally a person who just doesn't worry. Except for when I am pregnant. Then all of a sudden, I am a raving lunatic with strange fears popping up out of nowhere.)
So, here I am, pregnant and scared.
What was I afraid of? I was worried about if I could actually love another little baby as much as I loved the one I already had. He had become such a focus of my existence that I couldn't imagine another focus.
I was worried too about being overwhelmed. I didn't want to be miserable, in over my head, freaking out, and have insane kids to boot. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle what my life would become.
At the end of my pregnancy I finally made peace with my worries. This was the END of my pregnancy. In fact, I was already overdue.
I remember finally just sitting down for a quiet moment, and talking to this new baby. (I am not the "talk to your baby" type of mama. The idea is fine in theory, but I am just not that way. So this was kind of a big deal for me.) I just talked to this little baby in my belly and told her that I loved her. I told her I was ready for her to come. And I prayed and choose a name for her from the Bible.
Finally I was at peace with my coming change. I had accepted, at the eleventh hour, the idea of baby number two.
You know what happened? I had another baby.
And it was wonderful.
Really, it was nothing like what I had expected.
The birth was totally different (it was like 1/3 of the length of time). Breastfeeding came easily, which totally shocked me. I saw this little girl that I had been so worried about, and I just LOVED her instantly. She was my best girlfriend! How could she ever dislike me?! Shopping trips! Girl time! (She is now five, I hope I feel the same when she is 16 and I hope she adores me then too.)
Once she was with us, I couldn't imagine life without her. In fact, I wondered why I had waited that long to have another baby.
There were difficulties of course, with adding another baby. But they were not insurmountable. I loved seeing my babies together. I loved that they had each other. I loved that they loved each other.
Obviously, I had two more babies after that, so I just kept on going without looking back.
I guess what I am saying to people who wonder if they should have another baby is- I don't know if YOU should. But I am glad that I did.
Do I have my hands full? Yes, of course. But I did with one child. Does it change things? Of course, but life is about change.
There are difficult things about having one child and difficult things about having one or two or more.
There are also joys in having one child, and there are joys when you have more.
Adding a baby doesn't necessarily make life harder, it just makes it different. But new baby different is kind of awesome. I heard somebody say once that having a new baby in a home brings a special spirit that can heal things. Now, I hope people NEVER have children to "fix" their lives or their marriages. That is a stupid and selfish game to play with a life.
But there is truth in that statement. Children do bring a healing and teaching spirit to a home. They teach you. They push you. They love you. They make you better than you could have been without them. Our children help us become what we are capable of becoming.
I am grateful for all of my babies, and I am grateful that the universe allowed me to have these people be part of my life. They make my life better and I hope that I never let them down.
Love isn't something that you can run out of or grow tired of. The more you give it, the more it grows. The more you need, the more you have. And the more you show to your children, the more you get back. This is what life is all about.
I am so grateful for my second baby. She is just as first in my heart as all my others.
And mamas- good luck on your journeys. I know it is hard and I know it is scary. But we can do this. We were meant to do this. We just have to trust, to try, and to love and sacrifice what is needed to be the mothers our children deserve.
This article first appeared on the Mama Birth blog in February of 2012.
Sarah Clark is a mother of one boy and three girls, a natural birth instructor, and serves on the management team for Birth Boot Camp, a company specializing in online and in person childbirth education. She does an excessive amount of laundry.