Twenty-four years ago, on a Super Bowl Sunday, I became a mother for the second time. I don’t know what having six kids is like. As the middle of three, I know from a child’s perspective what it meant to have siblings. Beyond that scant knowledge, nothing prepared me for motherhood of two. By this point I was an old hand at the baby stuff. I had a three-year old and my greatest fear of giving birth a second time was having enough love for two. My love for my first daughter was so fierce and all-consuming, I didn’t know if there was any room in my heart for another wholly independent yet connected being.
Life was busy and full. To fit another’s schedule, no matter how flexible, into our lives was more than I could imagine. Lexie was perfect in every way. What if I didn’t feel the same about this child for some reason?
My attending doctor bore an eerie resemblance to Jeff’s best friend and was impatient. She arrived in the afternoon and our hospital room was host to family and friends for the game: the NY Giants played the Buffalo Bills, and won. Whitney Houston sang the Star Spangled Banner. Patriotism was running high in response to the Gulf War. (Disclaimer – I haven’t watched a game since and had to look all this up.) I remember nothing of the event but her peaceful calm. She was a perfect baby girl. Not the Lexie hadn’t been an easy baby, but the stress of first-time motherhood made me nervous and fearful. Hanni was just a Buddha-smile of serenity.
We were released after a day or so with no fanfare. Life took on its routine and her schedule slid into the daily timetable with ease. My fears of dropping, breaking, scarring for life that I had suffered the first time around were non-existent. My fear of not having enough love melted like hot candle wax under our bond. There was no shift from Lexie, no need to find more…there just was more than enough.
Second children benefit from all the first child has taught the parents, or rather all the three person unit has learned from each other and life together. They come into a ready-made world of family and perhaps never know what it is like to the center of that world, but they also never know the “science experiment” of being alone with this two dolts called adults. A path is paved and there is a comrade who can hold your hand through it all.
I hope my daughters will experience soul-filling love, joyous sharing with another, and motherhood at least twice.
(This is the letter I wrote to Hanni a year ago)