When big brother was 9 months old we got pregnant with little brother. Little brother was planned and wanted, and we were so excited to be adding to our family. Little brother was a blessing from the day that we learned we were pregnant, but I was sad for the last three months of my pregnancy. The night before his birth was the most emotionally conflicted 8 hours of my life.
Today I’m going to share my experience with unexpected emotions, and how I’m choosing to let them wash over me. I think that we mommas (and women in general) get bad press for being ’emotional’. When did it become wrong to feel? Men do it too!
For years I was stuck in a cycle of intense feelings and repression. I felt like emotions had to be wrong because the strong ones only led to bad things. I’m learning that emotions are a wonderful part of how I learn about myself and the world. I’m learning how to better address my emotions, and they now often lead to very good things.
So, I was pregnant with little brother before big brother was a year old. We wanted to have our kids close together because my first pregnancy had been complicated, and I knew that if we took much of a break I just wouldn’t want to get pregnant again. I know that people thought we were crazy after having seen everything that I went through during the first pregnancy, but it’s what we wanted.
We only tried for little brother for a few months. Big Brother had taken a bit longer to conceive. We were overjoyed! I’m an only child, so I think I was kinda shocked for the first few months of my pregnancy with #2. He was an impossible miracle. So many families aren’t able to conceive even one, let alone two. We were the lucky ones. I cried tears of joy for weeks!
Time passed, and I quit my job to prepare for being a sahm of two. Staying home with big brother proved to be both very stressful and very rewarding. I was seeing everything that he did. I was a part of his firsts, and I got to wipe his every tear. It was an incredibly emotional transition for me.
One day, as big brother napped, I held my bump and thought about who little brother would be. I thought about how big brother would interact with him, and what they would have as brothers.
I imagined them playing, and fighting. I even looked at a stuffed monkey on the floor and imagined big brother holding it up over little brother’s rock n play. Then I fast forwarded a year or two and pictured them playing tug of war with the same monkey.
I thought about all of the good things that little brother was going to bring into big brother’s life. Then, out of nowhere, I was overcome with thoughts of what little brother was going to be taking away from big brother. I couldn’t stop thinking about how big brother was no longer the baby- my tiny little boy was being pushed out of his role, and it broke my heart.
I’d say that all of these emotions landed on me when big brother was around 14 months old. I was still filled with joy at the thought of meeting little brother and integrating him into our family, but I was so sad for big brother at the same time. I couldn’t calibrate, so I shoved everything down and tried not to feel it.
I thought I was rocking it, and that the emotions had passed (because how dare I feel?!), but they always resurfaced late at night. I cried a lot- my poor husband is a champ!
We went to my high risk ob for my 37 week appointment and the sonographer did the usual ultrasound to measure little brother and make sure he wasn’t in distress. She left the room after giving us a couple of images of little brother. About five minutes later my doctor walked in and said, “you’re having a baby tonight, momma.” She was full of joy, but my heart sank.
My fluid levels had dropped too low and little brother was in distress. She was worried that if he didn’t come out soon he might not make it. I asked her how long we had. I needed my hospital bag and I wanted more time with big brother. I wanted all of the time with big brother! How dare she steal these last two weeks from him? We were supposed to have more time!!
She told me that we could go home to get my bag, but we needed to head over to the hospital that evening. She left the room and came back a few minutes later after speaking with my regular ob (the one who has delivered both of our boys. I love her.) She informed me that my doctor was about to be on her way back to Austin from a trip, and that she said she’d perform my surgery first thing in the morning. She said that little brother would be fine until then, but that they were going to monitor him throughout the night just to be sure.
We did as we were told. I went home, got my bag and tons of pillows (first time c section moms…you will need all of the pillows!), and hugged big brother like it was the last hug I’d ever give him. We drove to the hospital, checked in, and I got hooked up to the monitors.
Little brother and I were doing fine, so my husband ventured to p. Terry’s to get me a double chicken burger in a lettuce wrap with Swiss cheese and extra pickles (my gestational diabetes craving that pregnancy).
As soon as he left the room, I fell apart. I sobbed over everything. I mourned the time with big brother that I was loosing. I feared for little brother’s safety. I was angry that I wasn’t more upset about little brother’s distress. I begged for more time, and a healthy baby. I prayed for my doctor’s travels and asked God to give her strength to travel through the night. I prayed that she’d be energized for my early morning surgery.
By the time my husband got back to the room I’d stopped crying, but it was evident that I had been (freckles, remember?). He hugged me and told me that everything was going to be ok. It was somehow extremely soothing, even though I knew that he had no knowledge of the future.
I scarfed down the burger because surgery was set for 7, and I’d been told not to eat anything for 12 hours before surgery. It was 6:30.
That evening we watched episodes of the office and listened to little brother rolling around on the monitor. I wrote a post about my emotions on a mom group that I was in and so many mommas offered their support.
Many of them related with my conflicting emotions. Many of them were terrified the night before their second c section (more so than before their first ones.) They told me that I had more to loose this time if something went wrong.
I thought about my husband and our two boys. Would they go on without me if something went wrong during surgery? Would big brother remember the time that we had together? Would my husband remarry so the boys would have a mom, or would they grow up with just one parent?
The thoughts and emotions raced, and I continued to try to hide them from my husband.
The night passed and little brother was born the next morning. My doctor was a rockstar. She was supportive and encouraging through the entire surgery, and she stuck around the hospital until the afternoon (her scheduled shift had been later in the day. She came in so early just to deliver little brother. She assured me that she’d nap in the doctors lounge, but I didn’t believe her.)
That was it. Little brother was here, and our lives were changed forever. Big Brother and little brother love each other so much, and they fight so much. Big Brother gets just as much of my time as he ever did, it just looks different now. Now there’s a little tyrant involved too. Now I mourn the fact that little brother and I have never had significant alone time.
I regret having stuffed all of the emotions that I was feeling during my pregnancy. I don’t think it was good for me to ignore them. I think that putting them out in the open could have resulted in some helpful conversations that could have led to healing. I think I could have enjoyed my pregnancy more. But I don’t regret feeling them! I think that they were the result of my deep love for big brother, and the fact that having major surgery is scary!
Now I choose to feel what I feel. I let it consume me, for a moment, and then I write it down or talk to someone about it. Sometimes I even file them away to readdress at a more appropriate time (usually naptime), and make a point to come back to them. We have to process our emotions! If we don’t, they become too powerful- all stuffed away. They become cannon balls! They cause major damage when we least expect it!
A few months after little brother was born we moved and I started going to a church regularly. There I made some connections with other moms (these women are still my friends and I’m so thankful for them). All of my stuffed emotions eventually came out. I was a wreck, and they could all see it. They loved and supported me through it, and things eventually got way easier.
I was an anxious mess because I hadn’t given my emotions the respect that they were due. We feel things for a reason, and even when our feelings don’t reflect the truth, we need to acknowledge them. We need to learn from them.
Women, don’t be ashamed to feel. Feelings are a part of our compasses. We need them! I am a Christian, and I whole heartedly believe in a God who is relational. I believe that he let’s us feel to teach us about our hearts. I believe that each emotion that we have is meant to refine us, not hurt us.
Anyhoo- these have been some of my experiences with unexpected and conflicting emotions. I hope you enjoy enjoyed reading some of my heart.
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