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To the Second Baby That I’m Too Afraid to Have

Dear Little One,

I should probably start by saying that I’m not pregnant with you and I’m not having you. At least not anytime soon. At least not yet.

Make no mistake: I want to have you. For months now, I have dreamed of carrying your little body close — of tickling your toes and holding your little hand in mine. I have spent many hours trying to imagine what it would feel like to conceive you and carry you and hear your heartbeat for the very first time. I’ve puffed out my stomach and arched my back, wondering what I would look like; wondering what I would feel like. And I’ve spent hours talking with my husband (and your father) about why now is the right time — or the best time — to have you.

I’m trying to convince him why we should transform our trio into a family of four.

Yet even though I am “ready” — ready to carry you and nurture you and to have a second child — I am still terrified. I am still scared to death. Because things didn’t go as planned with your sister. Shortly after she was born, I struggled. I struggled mentally and emotionally. We — as a family — struggled financially. Your father and I struggled with our relationship. One day I nearly walked out; one day I asked for a divorce.

Depression nearly destroyed me. Postpartum depression nearly took my life.

And while that, in an of itself, is a damn good reason to be frightened and afraid, it isn’t postpartum depression that scares me most this time around. (Not anymore, at least.) No, this time, the fear is all about me, and my own personal inadequacies.

You see, selfishly I am afraid that if — and when — I have you I will become angry and resentful, because there is not enough of me to go around. Right now, with your sister, there is already not enough of me to go around.

I worry that in having you, I will have to make a difficult choice: I will have to put you in daycare much younger than your sister or I will have to sacrifice my job — the career of my dreams and the career I fought for an entire decade to obtain.

I’m afraid that I’ll be so exhausted and stressed that I’ll take it out on you, or on your sister.

I’m afraid that, if the PPD returns, I won’t be good enough or “well enough” to care of you.

I won’t be the mother you need or deserve.

I’m afraid that your sister’s antics — being an older, outgoing, and a risk-taking toddler — may cause me to miss out on your childhood. I will cover my eyes and count to 20, but when I remove my hands you will be crawling. Before I find your sister, during our never-ending game of hide and seek, you will be walking. And then you will be grown.

I’ll mourn the memories we never made.

Perhaps my greatest fear is that I won’t love you enough. I worry that there isn’t enough space in my soul for a second child.
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And I worry that these needs — your sister’s needs — may unintentionally trump yours. I worry you will feel that pain; the pain of being a second child. Of being treated like a baby, and somehow less than. And I worry your sister will feel the pain of being a first child. I worry she will feel abandoned and ignored and feel as though she was forced to grow up too quickly.

But perhaps my greatest fear is that I won’t love you enough. I worry that there isn’t enough space in my soul for a second child. And I do not want you to get jipped. I do not want you to get the short end of the stick, as they say.

I know that may sound absurd; I mean, one’s capacity to love is vast and endless, right? But when I gave birth to your sister, I gave birth to a completely new feeling: the love I knew but amplified. It was so deep and so strong, I cannot put it into words. And until that day, I didn’t know I was capable of loving so fiercely and so selflessly. I didn’t know what true love really even was. But what if I can’t do it again? What if my heart isn’t big enough for two?

Because, my love, you deserve the same. You deserve my heart and my soul, as does your sister. But will I be able to deliver?

And the truth is I don’t know. And I’m scared. The “great unknown” terrifies the crap out of me.

So forgive me, little one. Forgive me today, tomorrow, and always because even though you aren’t here yet — you aren’t a blip on a sonogram machine or a little pink line on a testing strip — you are that glimmer in my eye. You are the hope in my heart, and like your sister, I cannot wait to hold and meet you.
I cannot wait to love you, even if I have to “make space.” Even if I have force my heart open.

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