Our second pregnancy was anything but unexpected. My partner and I are both women, so, as you can imagine, we can't really get pregnant accidentally. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
We already had one child. We waited a couple of years until things felt pretty settled and comfortable and then decided it was time to try for baby No. 2. We wanted to make sure things went as smoothly as possible, so, along with regular doctors appointments, I started acupuncture, stopped drinking alcohol and started charting my cycle.
All of it was very planned, very calculated. No surprising us!
Later, when we found out that we were actually pregnant, you can imagine that we were thrilled. It's exactly what we had wanted. And I was a little shocked. I mean, I think there's always a little element of shock. Like an "are you sure this thing is 100% accurate because I don't feel pregnant" kinda shock. It took me awhile to fully accept that I was pregnant, but once it had finally sunk in, I was overcome by a completely different feeling.
I was in mourning.
Let me stop myself here and recognize how ridiculous and spoiled this will sound to some of you. Here I am with my perfectly healthy wife and toddler and another baby on the way, and I'm telling you that I was in mourning. I'm definitely not comparing this to any sort of loss of life, nothing of the sort. But I'm using this word, because it's only one that I can think of that describes my experience, so I'll continue.
It took me awhile to name the feeling. It was subtle, but nagging. I should be ecstatic, but I was sad. What was wrong with me? Then I realized that I was mourning; mourning the loss of my comfortable little three-person family. No, no one had died. Everyone was fine. In fact, everything was great.
So why were we messing with a good thing? What were we thinking bringing a new person into the mix? What if this baby screws everything up? Things felt really good with just the three of us, and I was realizing that things would never be the same again.
And yet, I had not expected to feel this way when I was pregnant. It was what we had wanted, after all.
At the time, our first daughter was about 2 and a half. We were busy, and, of course, we were tired—as all parents are. But she was an awesome kid. She had been a pretty chill baby, and we were working our way through toddlerhood together. But overall, we knew we were lucky. As parents, we had found a good balance between work and family. We were able to give our daughter the attention she needed and still feel healthy and happy as individuals. We had our routine, we were having fun, and we were comfortable.
I felt like all of that was about to change. Who knew what life was going to be like with another baby around ? What if she was not an easy baby, but a total terror? If I was exhausted now, what would it be like with another kid? How would I be able to give them both the attention that they needed and not go crazy?
Like all big changes in our lives, we have to embrace that there are unknowns and accept that things are not going to be the same. We have to say goodbye to whatever life was like before, whether we are leaving a job, a home or a relationship. It's natural to mourn those losses, to need some time to adjust, to feel afraid of what's to come or worry about regret.
And yet, I had not expected to feel this way when I was pregnant. It was what we had wanted, after all. We had worked so hard for it (not to mention, spent a lot of money on it). Why hadn't anyone warned me about this? Did other people experience this too?
But we're so happy with our slightly larger and more awesome family.
I mentioned it to a couple of friends, and they all reassured me that everything would be OK. They said that once the new baby arrived we would find a new family groove and all would be right in our world again. They said that once she was here, we wouldn't be able to imagine our family without her. She would make our family stronger and better and more complete.
And they were right.
Our second child is now 18 months old and, while I can't say that things are perfect, it does feel right. We're exhausted, our place is a disaster and I'm always forgetting things as I try to wrangle both kids and get them out the door. But we're so happy with our slightly larger and more awesome family. And we know that we are lucky, because not everyone gets to have a second child, and we appreciate her every day.
I want you to know that if you are having doubts or concerns about adding a child to your family, or if you are mourning the loss of your life as you now know it, it's OK. You are not alone, and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. It's normal, it will pass, and everything will be OK. In fact, it'll probably be pretty damn great.
Yes, it's time to say goodbye to your life and your family as they are now, but just know that things are about to get a whole lot better. Messier, more exhausting, and never ever again will it be the same as it was before, but only because it'll be infinitely more awesome.