Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Whenever I've chatted to expectant Mums in the past - friends, clients, and other Mums in the playground the one common thing that everyone seems to worry about with their second is "how will I ever love them the same as my first."
Our firstborns are such special little beings. They made us Mothers. Something no-one else can match. That is their achievement and theirs alone. It would be madness to think that any future children could match the love we have for them, surely? It feels as though you will always be making comparisons, and that the second child will inevitably fall short of the pedestal we hold our firstborns on. Often they can rarely do wrong in our eyes, and we pinch ourselves daily and wonder how we ever got so lucky.
Before we give birth to our second it seems incomprehensible that we could ever love another as much as our first child. That the bond we share could ever be recreated or reproduced. Of course we will love them, but it won't be the same. Will it? Is there really another space in our hearts big enough to match the one held by our first true loves?
Of course other Mums will assure you that there is. Of course you love them the same, "you just do" the Mums of 3 will tell you. You will nod and smile politely, but you don't believe them.
"Honestly, I felt like that too" friends will say, before assuring you that they do now indeed love both their children equally. But still you will doubt them. It just doesn't seem possible. As a second child yourself you will find yourself questioning your own Mum. "Of course it's not any different" she insists. You are suspicious. Obviously she is not going to tell you any different, but you recall events from your childhood which in your mind prove that you are right and your elder sibling is, as you have always suspected, the favourite.
You will feel guilty for feeling like you do not have enough love to share with a child you haven't even met yet. You will feel guilty again for your firstborn, who will have to share you for the first time. You will question how you will ever divide your time equally between the demands of a newborn and your eldest. How will you make it fair? More guilt. If you are planning to breastfeed it will dawn on you that you will likely have a newborn attached to you for the lions share, while your eldest will have to rely on your partner and other family members for entertainment. More guilt. You think back on all the days out, baby classes and activities you did with your firstborn and it hits you that this baby will forego those in exchange for being dragged along on a tightly packed schedule of school-runs and extra curricular activities. More guilt.
Eventually the day will come. You will leave your precious baby, no longer really your baby, with friends and family while you go off to bring their brother or sister into the world. You hope they are ok without you, and again.... there's the guilt. Baby arrives and you start working your way through the obligatory list of phonecalls, informing everyone of your new arrival.
Maybe you are at home by now, maybe you are still in the hospital. Either way your first set of visitors will arrive. You are a walking bundle of emotions and raging hormonal wreck as you wait patiently to introduce your child to their new brother or sister. They have waited so patiently (or perhaps impatiently) for this moment. And then it happens. Before you know it you are witnessing all the love and adoration you have shown your child, gush out of them like a burst pipe in the direction of their sibling. And in that moment you realise. You realise how silly you were to let the guilt consume you. You realise you have just given your child the gift that money can't buy.
A sibling. A playmate. A friend for life.
You see it and it seems obvious, you wonder why you didn't realise all along.
It's just like they all told you and it's there as plain as day in front of your eyes.
Love doesn't divide, it multiplies.