When we just had Zoey, she and I were inseparable. I took her with me everywhere, as much for the lack of a babysitter as because I wanted her with me all the time. The only time I left her was for work, and during her first year I was working nightshift so she barely registered my absence. She was my sidekick. There was an incredible bond there.
That all shifted after we brought Eleanor home. Suddenly, there were two little people who needed attention and love. Really, I started to feel this change before Eleanor was born. My pregnancy was rough and had me so physically limited that I couldn’t heft and play and let Zoey climb all over me the way she wanted anymore. She spent hours in front of a television, being cared for by the characters of Sesame Street, while I lay in a sea of nausea. Already, our relationship was changing.
I told myself that this change in relationship was part of the reason why we wanted another baby so close in age to Zoey. We wanted her to not be the only center to our world, to know what it is to have a sibling, to have to share everything – even her parents’ love – and to know the world doesn’t revolve around her alone. This is still true, and becoming a big sister has been wonderful for Zoey. She’s fantastic at it. That doesn’t mean the change in relationship was any easier for me.
For the first few months after Eleanor was born, I couldn’t help but feel that – even though so much had been added to our lives by her birth – something had been taken away. Lost.
I wholeheartedly believe this is normal. To feel this way is good and healthy. The bond I have with Zoey is still there, albeit changed. As strong as ever, but with another bond extending from each of us to Eleanor. I allow myself to mourn the loss of the relationship I had with my only child, but I also remember to celebrate the new relationships I have with my children.
Did you feel like this after becoming a parent to more than one child? How did your relationships change?