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The gut-wrenching anxiety of growing your family

There are so many things to worry about as a parent. I sometimes feel as if I’m struggling with a new one each and every day and sometimes I wonder if this new kid will just push me over the edge. Like, will I just give up all together and say “I can’t take it anymore! You kids have to fend for yourselves! Pour me another.”

Probably not. But I really don’t want to let worry get me down either. It’s one of those things about parenting that I didn’t fully expect- how much I’d worry, how much I’d care, the sleep I’d lose over what is going on in my daughter’s life or what I am perceiving at that point in time.

I used to think having an infant, a baby, was the hardest part and once I got through that everything would be gravy. Those times are surely filled with anxiety and adjustment and sleeplessness. But the older my daughter gets, the more emotional needs she has and I often find myself wondering if I’m handling them appropriately. And that, to me, is harder in a lot of ways.

Did I say the right thing? Did I help her in a positive way? Did I give her enough space to let her figure it out (whatever it is)? Did she get her feelings hurt? Does she feel heard? How will she adjust to her new sibling? Will there be enough of me to go around? Am I doing it all wrong?

Sometimes I feel stretched so thin with one kid. How can I possibly have enough love and compassion and concern for a whole other being? I know that I will. I know I will find it, that it will be yet another soul-wrenching, heart-wrenching turning point in my life, literally bringing this new person into creation, making them from scratch and then having no choice but to give a shit about them every day for the rest of their life. I know that.

I know I will step up because motherhood forces you to over and over again. But this fear is partially why I kept my family the way it was for four years. And now here it is. In my body and almost in our lives forever and ever.

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But I don’t know this person yet. He’s not totally real to me even when he pushes on my ribs so hard it wakes me from a deep sleep or stretches out so wide across my torso I feel like my entire body has been hijacked. Like there’s no way he’s only 4.25 lbs and the size of a pineapple like the BabyBump emails say. He’s everywhere. And soon he will be here.

It’s so hard to imagine but for a mother when it comes it’s like meeting someone you’ve always known; that’s been with you your whole life. For my daughter, it might not feel the same. It might feel like a betrayal, a jealousy she’s never known, sadness, anger, and yes, hopefully, love. So many big feelings for such a small person. And while I know it’s “normal” it’s also still very frightening because it’s very, very real and it will change us all.

I know it will make her a better person, it will shape her life in a lot of ways and help her to grow. To move into that role of big sister, to learn to be mama’s helper and one of two, instead of our one and only. But if I said there was no fear, only joy, I’d be lying.

Making a family is totally worth it. Watching love grow where it needs to grow is amazing. I’ve done it once before and I have no regrets. But it’s also scary as hell because nothing will ever be the same. And you have to learn to believe good things will come, to grow and simply, to breathe.

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