I spent hours stroking my belly, tracing her feet and her spine, mapping her little body beneath my stretching skin. My womb was ripening in those late winter days, getting ready to contract and relax and release a new soul into this world. I should have felt blissful, I thought, in my glowing and glorious state. I was rapidly approaching the birth of my daughter! The least I could do was love her.
But I wasn’t sure it was possible as I glanced across the room at the bouncing blonde curls of my first-born daughter, Cora. How could I possibly love anyone more than her, or with the same voracity? She had my whole heart. I’d fallen so deeply in love with her from the moment I knew I was pregnant. I’d spent nearly two-and-a-half years with just her, memorizing her face as she nursed, learning her idiosyncrasies, laughing at her wittiness and gazing in awe at her while she told me verbose, magical stories. What was I thinking, attempting to add another baby to this perfect mix? Would Cora like her? Would I like her?
If you’re pregnant with a second child or have been there, you know what I’m talking about. You look at your firstborn and think, “How could I love anyone more? How can I possibly add to this?” I felt so much guilt as her birthday crept closer and my belly grew rounder, thinking about my beautiful Cora and praying to God that the transition would be smooth for her, that she wouldn’t hate this wrinkly, loud little thing that just showed up one day and kept her away from her Mama for a night or two and made her share her milk.
In a fast and furious entrance, Eloise was born on March 1st, 2015, and I’m happy to report that yes, I absolutely love her, like her, and adore her. Cora does, too. She’s the perfect addition to our brood, a dimpled pudgy babe with giant gummy smiles and butterfly-inducing giggles. It’s amazing to see sisterhood from a mother’s perspective. I can’t imagine life without Eloise.
While I was pregnant, I expressed these concerns to my mom, who in her infinite mom-of-five wisdom assured me that I would definitely love my child, but in a different way. Not less than or more, just different. Cora would always be my firstborn, and I would always love her for making me a mother, for all of our firsts together and special moments. Have you heard the candle analogy? My mom described a mother’s love like the flame of a candle, able to spread light to other candles but never dimming in the process. I have enough love in my candle flame to light countless (well, maybe 2 or 3!) other candles, but my flame will never decrease; our combined flames only shine brighter.
So take heart, my friend. Trust that things unfold the way they should, that your little ones will love each other so deeply, and that there is no mistake in the incredible process that allows us to fall so head-over-heels in love with our babies.