I hit this point every time I’m pregnant. I suddenly realize what a big deal it is when you add a new baby to the family.
This is the point where suddenly, pregnancy is racing toward the end after dragging for months and months. It’s the point where I realize with horror that I’m about to have a NEW BABY and I’m totally not prepared in any ways that I should be.
This is also the point at which I begin to mourn the loss of our current family.
That may sound weird, but perhaps you experienced this too. It’s the gripping fear that you can’t possibly love this new baby as much as the child or children you already have. It is the feeling like you really love the status quo and don’t want to see it hit by the earthquake of a new child.
I remember so distinctly the very real fear I had just before Lincoln was born. It’s the greatest when you only have one child. Because you have no experience to tell you that yes, yes you WILL love your second child as much as the first. (At least until they are teenagers, when all bets are off. So I’m told.) You really will love your second child as much, but you cannot see this when you have only one.
I know by faith now from experience that I will love this new baby more than I can currently imagine as s/he kicks out at my belly with a foot or knee. I know I will. I’m not so worried about that.
What I worry about now and mourn for now is the fact that in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, our reality will change after. It’s never been a BAD change, so I know that much. But what you lose is your memory of what your family FEELS like.
You’ll have specific memories of firsts and special outings and even a few random times with nothing remarkable that you somehow retain anyway.
But you can’t capture in any measurable, tangible way what your family dynamic is right now. And I know from experience that this dissipates. Almost immediately there is a shift. You notice and don’t notice it. It moves over your family like a ripple over the surface of water. Maybe ripple is too light a word. It’s a WAVE.
This wave of a new baby crashes over and pulls up things that have long been settled at the bottom. Like the shells and sand and even tiny creatures, everything shifts and moves underneath. There is power in this shift, but because water is ever-changing, you cannot capture the difference. It never stops changing, and as each wave passes, the water returns to normal, then builds up for whatever the next wave will bring.
I don’t know what our family will look like in two weeks. I don’t know how I’ll feel. I don’t know how my children will react and feel and what they will do. I don’t know the big feelings they may have and not be able to express or even understand.
This terrifies me.
Every. Single. Time.
Change is a hard thing and a baby is a big change. Babies are people, so the change they bring isn’t the same as changing a paint color on a wall or getting a new car or even moving to a new house. There is nothing about people that is stagnant or still. We are dynamic and complicated, even babies.
Put all these different personalities and people with their dynamic complications together, and you have the crazy framework of a family. We each bring our own things to it and when a new baby crashes in with his or her whole personhood of change, every family member is hit with his or her own wave, which in turn affects each of the others.
I know this will be fine. I know in a few weeks I will look at this post and realize that I DON’T FULLY REMEMBER WHAT MY FAMILY WAS LIKE ON THAT RANDOM FRIDAY MORNING. It will already have changed so much and shifted so much that I can’t go back, in memory or reality. I’ll have the memories of being a family with four kids, but I won’t be able to FEEL or experience that reality in the same way.
I’m excited. I’m also terrified.
I know it will be okay. I also worry that it won’t. That somehow we are ruining something good with this huge change.
The thing that you can’t imagine is how your heart grows with each new baby. How it swells and rises up to fit around the new person and the new reality and the new family dynamic. We are adapters, the human race. We rise to the circumstances we are given, good and baby.
This will be good. This will be amazing.
But for a few weeks more, I’ll look at our family and try to memorize the look and feel of the NOW that will soon change. For a few weeks more I’ll mourn a little bit, even as I know I’ll feel silly as soon as that baby is lying on my chest, even while on the other side of a surgical curtain, my insides are being rearranged. (Ew.) Everything will be new. Everything will be amazing.
And either way, it’s too late to go back. The wave is coming. The best thing is to swim right up to it and ride with it as it crashes over everything.