Almost exactly two years ago I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. But was also already a Mom and we would become a Six Pack, a family of six. WTF?! Because life wasn’t interesting enough.
Truth. I HATED being pregnant. As I am a control freak through and through, I did not like not being able to do whatever I wanted with my body whenever I wanted. Which is strange, because it’s not like I was getting tats, piercings and drunk ALL the time. It was the principal. So there. *crosses arms* *stomps feet*
I am kind of a jerk though because I absolutely had the easiest pregnancy. Never sick, didn’t have any complications, and was induced one week early. The hospital I was delivering at was closing on my due date. And… Ella, god she is amazing. Total asshole. But amazing. She nursed like a dream! She slept through the night (then and now) and loves all food. Oddly enough, she has a strange understanding of sarcasm at the age of one. I call her an asshole beaming with pride if that helps. And at least once a day, I walk in a room and go “ugh, fuck, Ella!” [again with so much pride].
The reality of Growing a Human
My pregnancy, while easy was terrifying. I know that isn’t groundbreaking. I mean there are a million things to be terrified of, but for me, it was really my three big kids that I was worried about. (Here is that part again where I pretend it’s not a big deal but it is because it’s my reality.) I was terrified that they’d realize this whole mom thing was a ruse. Like they’d realize that I had a baby who I baked really good. Then they’d see this unconditional love I had for her and they’d be tragically broken realizing that wasn’t what happened between them and me.
Ella hadn’t even arrived yet and I was already feeling guilty. My biggest fear was that they’d think I didn’t love them as much as Ella.
What saved me, I think, is that they all fell in love with Ella more than I could have ever hoped. I mean really, if given the choice they’d choose Ella over me- hands down. And the thing is, I am absolutely okay with that. In fact, I’m proud of it. So proud of the kind of big siblings they are.
It was mutually beneficial though I think. Which I am learning is really what parenting is about. What I do shapes them, and what they do shapes me. There is so much room for growth and it’s truly a blessing.
Getting Back in the Saddle
After having Ella, and once I stopped feeling like I got hit by a bus after running three marathons carrying a camel on my back, the big kids gave me no choice but to get going. Less than a month after Ella was born I was on the soccer field coaching my oldest daughter’s travel soccer team. And football for my son had started two weeks before that. Not to mention I accidentally had a surgery on my foot, not kidding, that put me on crutches for 2 weeks. But despite all this, the big kids forced me into functioning on all cylinders again and for that I’m forever grateful. This made me recover quicker, made Ella super adaptable and helped me manage any anxiety or other mental health concerns that may have come up.
Pretty quickly I came to realize that there weren’t any ill feelings towards Ella. The big kids did not forever and tragically harmed because I loved Ella more. Because the thing is, I didn’t love Ella more. I loved her differently. But I love Austin differently than Madison and her differently than Kaylee and her differently than Austin and… you get it. I love each of my kids with all that I am, but it’s different because they are different and maybe more importantly I am human.
For all the things that I am not, I am transparent. And we talked about my pregnancy, having a baby, and what it meant for Ella to be my biological baby to death. We still do. I think we always will.
I can’t pretend to know everything about this subject, my kids are far too smart for that. (We tried to tell them that Ella was in my belly because “Daddy and Mommy loved one another”. They didn’t buy it.) I try not to make my kids grow up too fast, but I also believe that I’m not doing them any favors by sugar-coating everything.
So, when I was pregnant with and lay essentially immobile on our couch for two weeks after delivery, I never ever pretended to be anything other than human. We would talk about when I was tired, nervous, and when I was sorry for being a crazy person. I did the best I could every day to become better.
In the End
What I’ve learned so far is that raising children is still terrifying from the moment the stick turns blue to infinity. There are so many questions and nuisances and you cannot possibly plan for everything. What I’m learning more and more is that kids don’t really care how they were made. They don’t care where exactly they came from. I mean my science-loving freaks sort of do, but what they care about are your actions.
Even in those moments nursing Ella in the car five minutes before practice began, thinking to myself that Madison has no idea what it is I’m giving up for her, I think she actually did know. Maybe she can’t verbalize it, maybe she’s not even consciously aware of it, but I know now more than ever that kids know. They do. The know by seeing. That old saying, “actions speak louder than words,” well there is no truer arena for that than parenting.