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Having My Daughters 18 Months Apart Was the Hardest, Most Rewarding Thing I've Ever Done

Photograph by Twenty20

Every parent has that one day—that day that sticks out so vividly in your mind, it feels like yesterday. That one day, when you felt like you were failing in every way possible, and it was all you could do to keep your head above the current that was rushing straight at you. That day, when you questioned if you were cut out for parenting and wondered how you could do it all over again the next day, the next week, the next 20 years. That day you wanted to just give up, sit down and cry.

For me, that day came shortly after we welcomed home our second daughter, 18 short months after we had our first daughter. Looking back, I truly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and had embraced the fact that while I knew it would be challenging, we could handle it. What I wasn't prepared for was the colic and the unrelenting screams my beautiful little newborn would produce for hours on end, every single day, for three long, exhausting months.

The day that almost broke me started off like most days and rapidly went downhill. I distinctly remember—after hours of bouncing a screaming baby in our bathroom with the ceiling vent fan humming in the background—glancing at the clock and realizing that at almost 4 p.m. my toddler hadn't yet moved from the couch. Her teeth were unbrushed, her pajamas were still on and her hair was a knotted mess.

My little buddy, who had spent every day shadowing me around the house as we played, read books and made dinner, looked defeated, as if her entire world had changed overnight—and in its place stood a mommy whose tagline was now: "In a minute, honey. I can't right now."

The truth is, even without the colic, having two babies so close together has been one of the most challenging, most exhausting, most stressful things I have ever done—and I would do it all over again, without question.

Shortly after that fateful day, the screams began to subside, and soon our house was filled with the sounds of baby belly laughs and a toddler eager to introduce her baby sister to everything the world had to offer. I was reminded by the smiles on my baby girl's face on those first few colic-free days that, while there were more hard days and challenges ahead, there was nothing I couldn't handle.

As our daughters have grown up, now ages 6 and 5, I see the amazing gift we've given them, and I know deep down that everything we went through to get to where we are was completely worth it.

When I hear my girls upstairs playing with baby dolls or having a dance party, I'm reminded that all of the countless arguments I've had to break up over the years as I taught them how to play together and enjoy one another. When I watch them walk into school together, hand in hand, both of them finding comfort in navigating their new world with their best friend right across the hall, my heart feels full, knowing that they will have each other to lean on for the rest of their lives. When I watch them help each other, pick out outfits, refill water bottles or clean up their toys, I remember the days I felt so overwhelmingly needed and constantly pulled in two different directions, as they needed me to do so much for them. And, when I hear them late at night, after teeth have been brushed and the lights are off, giggling quietly in the room they share, I can't help but smile as I recall the nights it was me they were keeping awake as I fed them and rocked them in the dark.

That heartbreaking, stressful day years ago almost broke me. But I survived it and countless other days that had me questioning if I was good enough, if I was capable enough to handle it all, as we settled into our life as a family of four. While I can't say it was easy, when I catch a glimpse of the two of them running through the yard as they take off on another adventure, I know for absolute certain, it was worth it.

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