The last few weeks before my second child arrived were bittersweet — sweet because I couldn’t wait to meet the baby girl who had been kicking, punching, and hiccuping inside of my belly for months on end, but bitter because they marked the final days of my son’s 2-and-a-half year reign as my only baby. While I was so excited to become a mother again, I felt so guilty that I was going to have to split my love in half, dividing it between the new baby (who I couldn’t possibly love as much as my son) and the little man who made me a mother for the first time.
There is a photograph that is going viral this week, which pretty much sums up this moment so familiar to nearly every second-, third-, or fourth-time mom. In the image, taken by Portland, Oregon photographer Laura Paulescu, mom Nikki Colquitt — wife of Broncos punter Britton Colquitt — gives her daughter a hug before delivering their third child.
“Pure sweetness,” Paulescu wrote on her Crowned Photography Facebook page this past January. “Last hugs before saying goodbye to momma & the last time she would sit on that big round belly with her sister still inside.”
The image is making the Internet rounds again and was featured on Love What Matters — garnering over 16k likes.
Paulescu tells Babble that when the photo was taken, the mother, who was in early labor, had both of her older children running around the hospital room before their father took them home to stay with a sitter. When the little girl climbed up on the bed to say goodbye, Colquitt scooped her up over her contracting belly and they embraced.
“I’m so honored to have frozen that moment in time for them to treasure forever,” she tells us. “As a mother of two myself, I actually think you understand even more so how quickly life changes with that ‘baby’ when you bring another into your family.”
Since this mother had already experienced this when she gave birth to her second child, she “knew even deeper in her heart how much things would be changing and how much she wanted to hold onto that moment just a little longer.”
“Holding your ‘little’ one so close one last time, before they aren’t the little one anymore. That’s a moment that stays with you forever – the gut-wrenching mixture of overwhelming joy and anticipation coupled with heartbreak letting your ‘baby’ go, and scared every time as you wonder how your love can grow even more.”
Are you crying yet? I am.
Though I do not have our moment captured in a glossy photograph, it is clear as crystal in my mind.
The evening I left for the hospital to give birth to our daughter, Barrett, I held my son, Jackson, so tightly in my arms, knowing that things would never be the same. It was the end of an era, the season of us. In a few hours he would no longer be an only child, nor I, a mother-of-one. Our family dynamic would forever be changed. It was as if I was saying goodbye to my little baby, who within hours, would be my big boy.
This photo didn’t go viral just because it captured a beautiful moment between a mother and child, but also because the moment itself is universal.
Things do change.
The morning after Barrett was born, Jackson arrived at the hospital with his grandparents, and while he was still my baby, he wasn’t the baby anymore. He looked older, more mature and self-reliant than the evening before, during our embrace — as if he had grown up in the 12 or so hours since I had pushed this little creature out. I could tell he was mad at me and maybe a little hurt that he had to share his parents with this crying little thing.
The first week or so of Barrett’s life were a little rough on our relationship, but one morning something just clicked and there was a new normal. Our family dynamic had changed, but not in a bad way. Things were different. There was more love to be shared all around — between my husband and I and our children, as well as the love that blossomed between brother and sister. It was a new, beautiful season of life.
My life is a scrapbook of vivid moments, stored away in the safe deposit box of my mind — when I saw the man who I would marry a lifetime later; the instant the second line showed up on the pregnancy test, and I realized that I was going to be a mother; the first gasp of air that came of that same baby’s mouth — are just a few.
That embrace I shared with the same baby on the eve his sister was born, that one is in there too.
h/t: Love What Matters