The Time Between

MaxMommySnuggle

“I love you Mommy” he says, pressing his flushed cheek to my enormous belly.  “And I love baby brother, too”.  My sweet son kisses my belly, his (almost) 4 year old frame wrapped around my leg.  I bend slowly to lift him up, settle him on top of where his baby brother is kicking furiously at my ribs, and he puts his head on my shoulder.  “SEE Mommy!  You CAN lift me up!” he whispers, and my heart breaks open into a million tiny pieces.

They say that your love grows deeper.  That your heart expands.  That there will always be room in your arms for more children, room at your table for more plastic firetruck dinner plates.  The mothers who have walked this road before me tell me that new babies find more curves of your body to snuggle into, everyone fitting perfectly, nestled together like a set of measuring spoons that were always meant to accompany each other.

So I suppose that it must be true.  But what if it isn’t?

Our baby, the baby that we have longed for, the baby that I prayed for every month when the screen on the pregnancy test glared back at me with a blank stare….that baby is due to arrive in our arms in just five short weeks.  I know that he is meant to be my son, this sweet boy who wiggles and kicks inside of me, letting us know that he is excited to join the world and our adventures.  I reach for him every morning, willing him to make himself known as I lie half awake in bed, praying that he is still with us.  I rest my hand on my belly every night, feeling him stretch and move, while I listen to his big brother take soft breaths over the baby monitor.  One hand on our future, one ear listening to our present.

Baby Ben, we know that you will complete our family when you arrive.  I dream of watching you toddle after your brother on the playground.  I can already see how you will sit knee to knee in the bath tub together, both splashing water over the side and onto the floor while I pretend to be frustrated with you.  Max is already putting his stuffed friends to bed in your crib.  Groundhog, Doggie, and Bunny have been napping where you will rest your head.  You have your very own Rylee sleepers and new blankies, and many pairs of cool shoes so that you can match your Daddy and your brother.  Max has decided that you like the “Baby Bumblebee” song, and we sing it to you as you lie curled tightly in my belly.  “Mommy, does baby have any toys to play with in there?” he asks.  “Is it really dark?  What does he eat?”  I know that you hear our voices at storytime each night, quietly participating in the peaceful ritual of reading the train book and singing the night-night song, even though you haven’t arrived yet.  You are creating a space for yourself, and we are slowly making room.

Perhaps my heart is practicing it’s stretching already.  When I gently move Max off of my aching belly and nestle him in the crook of my arm instead, I am learning to love you both.  When I tell Max that I will be able to play blocks with him just as soon as I’ve finished my lunch, I am learning to care for you both.  When I dream of what it might feel like as you slip from my body, or drink from a breast that will hopefully fill with milk, or soothe the squeaky cries that are uniquely your own, I am learning to value the stories of both of my boys, different as they might be.

Max and I have grown up together.  He made me a mother, and taught me how to parent.  When I look at his huge hazel eyes, I see every dream that we have shared, reflected back at me.  His little hands fit perfectly in mine.  I have memorized the soft whirl of hair that tickles the back of his neck, and how it feels underneath my fingers.  I understand him, I interpret him, I know him with every fiber of my being.  I am terrified of how his world will change.  Will he know that he is still “my best”?  Will he know that he can still count on me to be the first hug every morning, and the last kiss every night?  Will he still want to dance with me as the music rings out in the living room, to a favorite song that we both know every word to?  How will I explain to him that my love will only grow?  That one day, when he puts on a Halloween costume he’ll have a built-in trick or treat buddy to walk up to every door with.  That he will have a partner in crime on family vacations, someone to watch for him at the window when the school bus pulls up, a co-engineer of lego castles, and a best man at his wedding.  Will the two of you feel secure in how special you are, knowing that you are not only a gift to your parents, but a gift to each other?

It’s when I think of the dreams that our family has yet to fulfill, that I am soothed by the fact that we will be ok.  My heart will expand because there are so many good things to fill it with.  So many new ways to love, that are waiting to be discovered.  Right now I can only imagine the day when our sweet baby boy makes his entrance into this world.  But if loving Max has taught me anything, I can be sure that my heart will explode as I look into Ben’s eyes for the very first time.  This time, I will see not only Daddy in the eyes of my newborn son, but my sweet “big boy” as well.  Our lives, our dreams, the hope that we have for the years to come, all reflected back in the pure spirit of a tiny human who is navigating his first few hours of life.

And until then?  Until then, I will take my first son’s hand and twirl him around to the music just a few minutes longer.  I will read one more story every night, just to feel the warmth of Max’s small body against mine.  I will inhale the time between, and keep these moments sacred so that Max will always know that I remember.  I’ll remember when he was my smallest.  I’ll remember when he was my only.

Two boys.  One mama’s heart.  One love.  Goodnight my sweet sons.  Sweet dreams to you both, the one that has already stolen my heart, and the one who is growing underneath it as it expands.  I have loved you both since before I even knew you, and that love can only grow stronger, in the time between.

BellyKiss

Photos by Richelle Wetzel of Lissymack Photography

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Comments:

  1. You’re right; it grows stronger. It expands, it twists and turns and finds its way into the deepest unknown crevices of our being. The love is palpable, nearly indescribable, even to those who you know know what it feels like. Five weeks. I can’t wait for you to experience the fulfillment of second-time motherhood. Can’t wait for you to document the differences, the similarities, the exponential increase of love.

  2. There are hard things of course. Anyone who is a parent knows that but, as a mother of two boys myself (eldest is 3, younger is 1), I can simply tell you your love grows as your family grows—-it just gets bigger. Max will always be your firstborn. forever and ever. I too was a little concerned about how a new baby boy would change things for my first baby boy. It did change things. For the better. I gave him more family, a sibling, a brother, someone who will share a bond like no other., someone to whisper to, “don’t tell mom…” You are totally right—-my sons are the greatest gift to each other and I’m simply blessed to be a vehicle and witness to their lives. Sure, there is the crappy stuff you forget about in caring for infants, plus careful big brother instructions including, “no, you cannot ride your baby brother”, … but, big picture? I think it’s going to blow your socks off. It did mine. 🙂 It is crazy at first—bat shit, what-have-we-done crazy—but the best kind of crazy life can give. Congrats!

  3. I just found your blog tonight! This was a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. I found it especially touching, I think, because I was in your exact spot this time last year. I’m a Bay Mama, too (Well, sort of. We used to live in SF, but now we live in Sonoma County). I have 2 boys, and they are almost 4 1/2 years apart. Sometimes, I look back at a picture I took of my oldest son at the park about 2 days before my youngest was born. It was just the two of us in the park that evening, and now I know the picture captured the last time it will ever be just the two of us (in that way) again. The picture still strikes me as so profound when I see it. I, too, doubted I could possibly love another child as much as I love my oldest son. And yet, the love I have for little Sam overwhelms me on a daily basis. It is equal and different all at once.  Describing it is sort of like trying to describe the nuance of a word to somebody who speaks a language without the same word in it for translation. I also find I am ENJOYING the baby phase so much more the second time around since I’ve done it before and actually (most of the time) know what I’m doing! The one piece of advice I can offer you after my first mom-of-two year is to make sure you carve out special time with Max after Ben is here, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store with him. You’ll both cherish the one-on-one time together, like it always was in “the old days”.

  4. I just read your article from the Huffington Post today, and now this entry. Both nearly brought me to tears. You have so beautifully put into words so much of my own experience as a mother. I just had our second baby boy 8 weeks ago, and in the lead up to his birth I felt very much the way you did about treasuring my last moments with my first son as an only child. I am so glad that I did as everything has changed so much. I also had the same trouble as you with breastfeeding my first son, and experienced the same emotions of guilt, shame and worthlessness as a result. I will have you in my thoughts, and I so hope that you do indeed get your second chance. I have, and nursing this time around has been a completely different process. Each day as I watch my baby boy grow just from the milk I am producing I am filled with amazement. The feelings that have been so deeply imprinted into your being from your first experience will never leave you, but I do hope that you are able to have an easier, more fulfilling experience this time, no matter what type of milk your baby gets. All the best mama. Thanks for your beautifully written, extremely moving words.

  5. I am a new follower and just came across your beautiful article from Huffington post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the most perfect words to say what my heart has been feeling about my failed attempt at breastfeeding my son. I have felt SO SO guilty and sad over not having enough milk to feed my son, and I DESPERATELY want to have a successful experience breastfeeding our 2nd baby due in September. You are an amazing writer and I bawled through this post as well the one about breastfeeding today. Your words have touched me and I have linked to your article on my blog tonight as well in hopes that it can encourage other women struggling with their feelings as well. I can’t wait to continue to follow your journey with parenting two boys! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

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