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.