When I was pregnant with my second son, I had no idea how much I would love him. It didn't seem possible that I could love him like I did my first. As I awaited his arrival (on bedrest), my expectations for him grew but my projected love and feelings remained very measured. I imagined having a blueprint for love, a near duplicate map of that with my first son. I was imagining a replica; I had no other schema for having a baby of my own. In this space, I expected it would all feel very familiar in my heart. And although this hope and anticipation fueled my pregnancy, I remember housing doubt that I would have the capacity to love another like I loved my first son. In some moments, it didn't seem possible; the love already felt immense and unconstrained. As any parent knows, it's simply insurmountable to quantify or govern love for your child.
If anything, I think I expected my love to feel equal for each boy, despite not understanding the mechanics of how it would happen. Part of that came from my mother telling me that she loved my brother and me equally when we were growing up. This often came up at incredibly sentimental times like epic battles in sharing or when choosing which one of us needed to take the garbage out.
Of course, I'm sure my mom's feelings are more complex, but her assertion of equality was the foundation of my thinking. Out popped my second son in November of 2008. And just like everyone said, I fell in love with him... desperately.
But my love wasn't simple; it wasn't the same. My heart didn't mimic any pattern I'd developed for my first. My second was an entirely unique person in my life. And I generated an entirely new sense of connection.
As my boys grow this incomparable inequality persists. It weaves and changes. They tug and pull on my heart each and every day in entirely different ways.
My love for my boys isn't "equal" in height, weight or circumference. The love I feel for my second is absolutely incomparable to the love I feel for my first. As if it's a different color, a different language, a different texture or a different tonality. The space they occupy in me is immense and limitless, separate and only occasionally overlapping. I don't love one more than the other, but I can't articulate how I love them in unequal ways. But I do.
Does the love you feel for your child equal that for anything else?
Follow Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SeattleMamaDoc