Running Springs, CA

I’m Scared That Having a Second Child Will Bring Back Resentment

Modern Parent

Chayene Rafaela

I have never, ever experienced a love like the love I have for my son. Its brutal force entered me like a magic spell, and I was enchanted by him the moment he was born.

For some reason, and although logic would suggest otherwise, I fear that this love won’t be replicated once more for my second child. I haven't experienced the mother’s love for two yet, and I hope to God that when the baby is born, I’ll be able to reflect on this article and laugh at how silly I was to think any of this.

I have been told that it is impossible to love one more than the other when you have more than one child. I know plenty of people with 2+ children, and they all confirm it. In fact, I’m the youngest of two children, and I have never felt less loved than my sister — and I’d say she feels the same.

But somehow, I still feel doubtful that the same will apply to me, even though I don’t think I’m special. Maybe I feel deprived of that privilege. Maybe, I feel so undeserving of the love I feel for my son that there is no way I will be blessed with it a second time around.

Maybe this is a lack of self-love rather than anything else.

I’m Scared of Having to Love My Son Less

I’m 16 weeks pregnant with my second child, and the thought has crossed my mind that when he or she is born, the love I have for my 2-year-old son will be redirected to our second-born. And this scares the crap out of me. Even writing this down makes me feel ashamed.

Because I have made this assumption that the love I have for Andriel cannot possibly leave any space for anyone else, and thus, any love I distribute for my second will have to come from the already existing love for my first. I truly hope this is wrong.

Even if this is not true, I will understandably have to spend time with the baby, thus taking time away from my firstborn. Even if I don’t feel like I love him less, I know I won’t have as much time to show that love, and it fills me with dread about having this baby.

I want the bond I have with my son to carry on growing. I want to make up for the last year of lockdowns and take him to loads of toddler classes and run around after him. I want to keep noticing the little changes in him as he gets bigger — physical and mental. I want us to snuggle on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon and watch a movie uninterrupted. For some reason, it feels like having a baby will somehow limit all of the aforementioned and more.

I’m Scared of Resenting The Baby

I fear that I will somehow not love my second baby as much because I’ll constantly want to make sure that Andriel still feels loved. I worry that any time I am with the baby, my mind will be on Andriel, and I will come to resent the baby for taking that time away.

Even down to the birth — how will Andriel be while I’m in the hospital? I pray that the labor is quick and I can get home to my son as fast as possible. I’m even considering a home birth simply, so I don’t have to leave Andriel.

If I have to go to the hospital, Andriel won’t understand why I’m not with him, and he might feel like I’ve abandoned him. He has never spent the night away from me. With the pandemic, he hasn’t really spent any extended time with anyone else.

Will this give him a taste of resentment toward the baby and me?

It worries me that I will subsequently lower the quality of the precious time my baby will need from me. And I’m scared that we won’t have the same bond as I did with Andriel.

But do I want to have a close bond with anyone else than with my first child? At this time, I don’t feel I can. It feels like a betrayal.

Andriel is the love of my life. He is my best friend. I give him credit for my mental health breakthroughs, albeit wrongly. He is only a child and bears no responsibility for my mental health or my happiness — no child should be accountable for that.

But how am I supposed to put anyone else on as high a pedestal as him?

Am I the only mother who has felt this way?

I Don’t Want To Have Favourites

I said earlier I believed parents when they said they love all the children equally.

But I have found copious amounts of blogs and articles that say otherwise. I don’t want to participate in that. I want to love my children all the same. I don’t want any of them to feel less loved. But already, I feel I love my first child more. Will this change once the baby is born?

Is it within my DNA to love all my children equally?

I never thought I could ever love as much as I love my son. I didn’t even know this love existed before he came along. Thus, I have to have faith that the same will happen with my second baby. Yes, I am deserving of that.

All of the above fears are things that get to me at my lowest moments. At night, particularly, or when I feel most vulnerable. I bet that hormones play a part in it too.

It is not something that has consumed me with fear and worry to the point of spiral and anxiety attacks, but enough to stir unwanted feelings of dread. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing them down, but I was scared that if I did, they’d become more real than when they were just in my head. Somehow, I feel I have to acknowledge them to do something with them.

So here is what I feel I need to write to accept my fears and nip them in the bud before they become all-consuming and overwhelming.

Focusing On Good

I am not the only one who will have two kids. In the same way that I made time for my son, I know I will make time for the second baby.

I am both special AND not special in being human because everyone is unique, though everyone is equal. I reassure myself that I am deserving of a second child to love in the same way that I deserve to be every bit as happy as everyone else.

My time will be split more than before, but I know that Andriel will be at daycare and then preschool, where he will have too much fun to feel neglected, giving me time to bond with the baby.

And when Andriel is home, the baby will have nap times, and I’ll be able to spend time with my son. In between, Andriel will be involved with the baby, and it will give them a chance to get to know each other.

Simply put, the logistics will have to work themselves out. It will be hard at first to adjust, I’m sure — but I feel like I am strong enough today to bear the hit that the changes will bring.

And, of course, I have my husband, who will be there for all of it, through the ups and the downs. Equally, I have to be there for him, who will be part of those changes.

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