Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I thought it would be like a re-run, having a second child. Like getting to re-live all the best moments of the first time I became a mother: Seeing a reflection of myself whenever I looked into her face. Spending every spare moment marveling over her teensy-tiny feet and fingers. Not being able to stop holding or kissing her, ever. Stopping my whole world and launching into re-orbit, with her at the center.

Only now there are two stars in my home, each burning with an equal brilliance, each exerting her own gravitational pull. And while I feel the strength of the baby's needs when she opens her tiny mouth and squalls from hunger or discomfort, I also feel the needs of my older girl, for time and attention and affection. I can't just prioritize one need anymore. But neither can I lump the two of them together into a single unit.

I can't re-orbit, not completely. I'm spinning, instead, in figure eights, around my two stars. The dwarf star and the supernova.


I have said of my first, "She came out of the womb like that." Here is how she came: stubbornly, slowly, with a fist up by her face, as though ready for a fight. She was alert, silent as a starfish, somber and observant; I called her my yogi child. I called her my philosopher. She gazed out at the world as though she already understood what a twisted tangled web of light and dark it really was. I knew immediately she would be a deep thinker, that her memory would be that of an elephant, that the world's pains and problems would bother her at a marrow-deep level. I brush her hair back from her eyes and wish only that my love would get into her marrow as well.

And my second came so fast that, in the moment before she was born, even I did not expect her, did not adequately anticipate, did not prepare. The cord was wrapped three times around her neck and when her body emerged, it was the color of a bruise. But then she gasped, and cried once, and life rushed into her. She opened her eyes and looked stunned to be in such a place as this. Her silences are different; they are the lake just filled with rain, the first bud appearing in the spring. My prediction: She will be carefree as the breeze. When she falls, she will pick herself up quickly. And when she does, I'm still hoping she'll look for me and run into my arms.


I must actively remind myself that this time around will not be like the first. She rests in my right arm while my toddler snuggles under my left. I rock her cradle with one hand and type with the other. It doesn't feel fair, it makes me feel guilty, and angry, that my attention should be divided this way. But the fact is that that's the reality of the situation. There's no going back--only forward.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazes me there can be a sense of loss amidst such great gain. Each child suffers a loss of attention, by gaining a sibling. I wasn't prepared for the sacrifices or the differences either. How could we be?