The Second Child Guilt

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Those of you on your second or more child, I know you know how I feel, that I can’t be alone in this! Wondering if you’ve made the right choice to expand your family, if your firstborn will be accepting of the change, questioning how you will find the time to love and enjoy them equally?

It’s been a really intense time in the last few weeks, the loss of routine when I went on maternity leave has hit both Florence and I, and Matt is currently at home a lot which as I’m sure you can all imagine brings both good and bad with it! It was so lovely to have things like the week of snow relatively stress free with nobody feeling pressured into leaving the house unsafely, and to be getting outdoors together when the sun is shining (wasn’t yesterday just glorious!), but as Matt recently put it ‘every day feels like a Sunday at the moment’ and part of what makes Sunday’s special is that they only happen once a week! So we have been working on finding the balance at home, and minimising the change on Florence.

But OH EM GEE! The guilt that is accompanying this time is unreal, its about anything and everything the most silly of reasons can create a really strong feeling… Obviously I’m slightly hormonal at the moment which is bound to be exacerbating things, but I feel like I’m in constant demand at the moment, whilst simultaneously craving space to move and breathe, then feeling guilty for shaking Florence off, be that physically or emotionally. She is wanting me to do EVERY little thing for her – things she wouldn’t even allow me to help with a few months back, dressing her, brushing teeth, every bedtime, carrying her during the day, you name it – she wants it from me, Daddy is just no substitute right now!! I cant even go for a wee without her *needing* to be by my side offering to help get the tissue or try to climb up and kiss me. It’s exhausting, sweet, but exhausting.

Then when all I want to do is hold my girl (which I have to admit is usually in the minutes after she falls asleep!), I feel guilt sneaking in the side door “you won’t be able to do this as often soon”, “the baby is going to need you more”, “what if she never forgives me for bringing this baby into the family?!”, “why can’t I be more patient when she’s needing me”, “what if I can’t love this baby as much as I love her?”, “will we ever have time for just the two of us again?”… the list goes on.

I’ve been combatting this as much as possible by carving in time for myself – soaking in the bath most days after she is asleep, I’ve had regular treatments with Suzanne Morgan throughout this pregnancy, listening to feel good music and relaxation audios when I go to sleep….

But today I had a realisation or two after landing flat on my arse slipping over on the grass verge outside my house trying to carry Florence to the car.*

Firstly my instinctive reaction was to protect both of my babies equally. I got Florence to the ground as softly as I could whilst moving her away from the car to avoid bumping her into the car or landing on my bump, as I broke my own fall the best I could keeping baby safe. Surely if I can do that now, the division of love, attention, care and time will come just as naturally soon.

I then scooped her back up, and went back indoors to calm us both down and get dry clothes. Poor Florence was so shaken up, but the thing which really hit me was hearing her sob to Matt as I stripped off “but the baby? Is the baby okay?”. Oh my goodness, I burst into tears again. To hear our not even 3 year old, so full of love and concern for her unborn sibling, both broke and healed my heart in one.

She too will find her way as the dynamics change. Of course she needs me now – there is so much anticipation and no way of knowing what it really means, but she’s going to love this baby as much as we do, and although there may be times she resents not being the only one, I feel reassured that she is going to adore sharing her life with her new brother or sister.

So if you too are feeling all of these crazy emotions, no my advice isn’t go drop yourself and your child into a pile of mud, but know that things are always working out, that we do what we need to in the moment to get by and that our firstborns will still love us just as much as before. and that we will love the secondborn’s just as much as the first!

*For the record we are both fine, a bit achey, and Florence in particular shaken, but no long term harm done!

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