I didn't tell my husband I was pregnant.
I had taken the test on a whim, thinking it was impossible that month -- that our timing had been off. When the test came back positive, I froze. Although we had been trying for a second child for nine months, I wasn't ready for the news. I walked around in a daze for over 24 hours, talking to my husband about trivialities: what to buy at the store, who would pick up our daughter from preschool, whether to have chicken or pasta for dinner. I didn't say what was really on my mind. I was pregnant, and I was terrified.
When I finally shared the news, he was overjoyed. Having had some time to process things, I was happy too, although a sense of panic overshadowed my joy for our growing family. I wondered how we'd fit a new person into our already crowded apartment, which felt smaller each passing day. I was nervous about putting my career on pause once again, and attempting to squeeze caring for a newborn into a life that barely accommodated a toddler and two self-owned businesses (not to mention the occasional moment alone together). I remembered the sleepless nights, the fatigue, the constant demands of nursing. I couldn't imagine fitting it all in.
But if I was being honest, work and space had little to do with my fears. I had always been ambivalent about having another baby. I was an only child. Growing up, my parents and I had been the Three Musketeers. Our bond was fierce, whether I was reading and crafting with my mom, or accompanying my dad on field trips with the classes he taught. We spent weeks at a time on the road, exploring the majesty of the Grand Tetons, the exploding geysers of Yellowstone, the barbecue and bluegrass of Dollywood. Through all our ups and downs, I always knew I came first in their hearts.
When I gave birth to my daughter, she filled my heart the same way. I strove to give her all the love and attention I had received, to conquer the world together as my parents and I had done years ago. I loved her intensely, completely. And so the thought of another child was terrifying. How could I ever love another child the way I loved my daughter? Was it really possible to fall in that kind of all-consuming love twice? And what if this new baby took my attention from my daughter? What if I was a terrible mother who resented her own baby? The thought left me feeling shaken and alone.
My delivery was a planned C-section, and as the day approached, I tried to mask my doubts. When we arrived at the hospital, I was distracted by the many details of preparing for surgery. I'm ashamed to admit it, but up until the moment my son was born, I was still afraid of how I'd react when I met him. As I lay on that table, I was confused. I was numb. Of course I loved my baby. But I was scared I wouldn't fall in love the way a new mother should.
And then I did.
The moment my husband showed me my infant son, cradled in his arms, wrapped in a newborn diaper and tiny hospital-standard shirt and hat, all I could think was: "God, he's beautiful." And he was. Breathtakingly, melt-your-heart beautiful.
When people ask my husband and I how we met, we describe seeing each other across a crowded room, feeling an instant connection. In reality, we fell in love over time. With my daughter, I had to recover from 36 hours of labor and an emergency C-section before I was aware enough to bond with her. The moment I saw my son, I experienced something I'd never felt in my life: love at first sight.
In an instant, I fell hopelessly, utterly in love with my newborn child. It was a new love, separate from my love for my daughter, which somehow remained as unchanged and consuming as ever. Somehow, in a single moment, I transformed from my daughter's mother to my children's mother. And the world didn't screech to a halt.
Just as there was suddenly ample room in my heart, there was room in my life as well. We made space in our apartment; I found a way to balance work and motherhood yet again. I can't say none of my fears materialized. There are days I can barely carry on a conversation with my daughter because I'm trying to prevent my son from running into traffic. But there's one fear that, thankfully, was never realized . My heart didn't close when my son was born. I fell in love, and every day I fall more deeply under his spell.
As it turns out, mothers do fall in love more than once. We fall in love every day, for the rest of our lives.
This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Love Matters, entitled 'Moment I Fell in Love With My Baby.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here. To contribute, submit your 500 - 800 word blogpost to firstname.lastname@example.org.