Maybe it's too soon after your first one. Maybe you weren't supposed to get pregnant right now. Maybe you had agreed that you were done. Maybe the doctors are concerned about you. Maybe it's your fifth or sixth or 19th, and the world is looking at you like you've lost your mind. Maybe you've lost so many that you simply don't want your heart broken again.
It really is OK to love this little one, right from the start.
I know that feeling, almost all of those feelings actually, now that I think about it. I know what it feels like to feel so exhausted, so broken, like didn't I give birth a hot two seconds ago? How could I possibly be pregnant again?
I know that feeling of wondering if your body can handle it, if the weight of the little one inside of you will be more than you can handle, and not just physically. I know that feeling of slight shame at the doctor's office, as if you have something to apologize for in getting pregnant again. I know what that fear feels like, creeping in even as you tell yourself how awful that is, how you should just be grateful for the chance to have what so many women dream of each and every day.
I know what it's like to wonder how you should feel. Are you allowed to love something you never had in the first place?
I know that feeling of wanting to protect your heart against the hope that never seems to materialize. I know that even when you tell yourself not to hope, not to get attached, the flicker lingers, like the smallest amber in a long-extinguished fire. I know how it's stubborn, despite your pleas—how eventually, you just make peace with the fact that hope and fear will always live together, like peanut butter and jelly forever.
I know what it's like to hope even as life drains from you, to wonder how you should feel. Are you allowed to love something you never had in the first place? I know what it's like to try to push away that love and deny it into existence. But you give in. Because that love? It knows no bounds.
I know what it feels like to love despite all the odds, to love stubbornly, to love when you feel like you shouldn't.
And I also know that love is never wrong. Love is always the right choice.
So whether your love is mixed with pain, as you mourn the loss of a little one gone too soon or waiting to enter your arms, or whether you're struggling to find love right now, know this: It is OK to love.
It's OK to love that baby that insisted on showing up too early to your family party, before you truly felt ready. It's OK to love a baby the world is telling you not to. It's OK to love the baby you are afraid you will never meet. It's OK to love the baby that will need extra love and care. It's OK to love the baby you are already losing.
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All of it is OK, because love is stubborn, like the most persistent weed in the garden. But it's also what gives bloom to the most beautiful aspects of life, even when you least expect it.
So Mama? Give yourself permission to love that little one, with all the hardships, hurt and heartache that love will bring. Because love is always worth it.