The One Thing You’re Never Supposed to Say When Expecting Your Second Child

The One Thing You're Never Supposed to Say When Expecting Your Second Child“So which of these pictures should we hang on the wall?” I asked my husband, gesturing to two photos—one of our little family of three and one of just my son.

“That one, definitely,” he said, pointing to the photo featuring solely our toddler. By way of explanation he added, “Because we shouldn’t hang a family photo that will be outdated in just a few months. It won’t be our family anymore.”

I felt like I’d been punched in the gut when he said it.

The One Thing You're Never Supposed to Say When Expecting Your Second Child

You see, we were having this conversation when I was three months pregnant with the little girl who is due to arrive just seven weeks from now; my husband was referencing the fact that our family makeup is currently in a state of transition—a glorious, prayed for, and much wanted transition, I should add.

The One Thing You're Never Supposed to Say When Expecting Your Second Child

And yet, looking at that beautiful family photo that would now never grace our wall, I felt a feeling that I immediately realized you’re never supposed to admit to having when expecting your second child:

I felt sadness to see our family change.

I felt grief that my family as it currently stands—this family that I love so much!—really isn’t my family anymore. At least not all of it.

You’re not supposed to say this. You’re not supposed to confess that, amidst the joy of your second baby, there’s a tiny part of you that’s mourning the loss of the family you have now. That there’s a piece of you that doesn’t want to let go of the tight little enclave you’ve created and nurtured and protected. 

Of course I recognize that as much as I love this little family, it was never meant to stay this way. Indeed, we always wanted and planned for more than one child.

But that doesn’t mean that right now, I’m not trying to savor these fleeting last weeks I have with just my son.

It doesn’t mean that while having another child feels amazing and oh-so-right for us, the way it is now isn’t incredibly special too.

And it doesn’t mean that, when we walk down the street with my boy in the middle holding both Mommy and Daddy’s hands, I don’t feel a twinge of guilt for the huge transition he is about to endure.

Please don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled to see our family expand, and I can’t wait to hold this baby girl in my arms. But I also need to admit that I’m simultaneously mourning the loss of our current family of three, and grieving the fact that it will never be the same again.

Moms of two or more: Can you relate? Did you feel a similar mixture of emotions when expecting your second child?

Moms of one: Are you planning to have more children or not?

image via bonninturina/Dollar Photo Club

29 responses to “The One Thing You’re Never Supposed to Say When Expecting Your Second Child”

  1. Yes!! I was secretly terrified when I was pregnant with my second son. I loved my first little boy so much that I began to have moments of dread that I wouldn’t be able to love another child as much as I loved the first. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it, and as my due date got closer and closer, I would sometimes sit and hold my first son and quietly cry, thinking I was somehow abandoning him. But then my second son was born, and I finally understood what people mean when they say, “There’s just more love there.” As humans, we’re so conditioned to think of things in a finite manner — but there’s always enough love. When I had my third little boy, I didn’t have any reservations at all, because I knew there’d be plenty of love to go around, and now I cherish my different relationships with each of my boys.

  2. Do you know when it hit me???? The night before I was going to deliver Kalaina! I had a pregnancy condition that necessitated being induced. We spent the night at my grandma’s house, so we could leave Andrew with her the next morning when we went to the hospital. I got into bed that night and BAWLED. I felt like I was BETRAYING my son by going to have another baby the next day!!!! It was an awful mommy-guilt kinda feeling.
    All is well, however, and I did not have that feeling with pregnancy #3 or #4!
    Enjoy every day as a family of 3…and when the time comes, you’ll just start enjoying every day as a family of 4!!

    • Thank you, Karen! It helps me to know I’m not alone in these mixed feelings, but that all will work out in the end. I know that’s true, of course, but I’m also trying to be authentic and genuine in the way I’m feeling right now.

  3. I had similar feelings when I was pregnant with my second. I mourned a bit, felt unsure, and also felt guilty. For Pete’s sake, I’m a second child myself so did my mom have these same feelings before she had (wonderful) me?

    i remember having these feelings, but now that I have the family I have, I don’t have those feelings or look back with sadness at all. My family is how it’s supposed to be, how it turned out, and I can’t imagine not having the four of us!

    • I probably should have added that I’m a second child too! I actually talked about this with my mom, and she said she did indeed share similar feelings. It’s crazy because of COURSE I’m an integral part of the family. 😉

  4. I think it’s totally natural to “fear” transition from a party of 3 to 4. In my case, my boys are only one year apart, so my perceived guilt was that my first born wouldn’t have too much “baby” time…and now I feel bad that the only pictures hanging up are of my first born as a baby..although I keep intending to get some of baby #2 up on the wall! But, it all works itself out and that’s life, things always change and you have to roll with it!

  5. It is a big change to go from one child to two. We have seven now and nine grans.

    We have a wall with photos going back to the beginning when it was just Hubster and myself. As the children came, we just hung another photo and so forth.. really interesting photos going down the stairwell.

  6. Oh, Katie. I couldn’t relate more. I remember being hugely pregnant, laying in bed with my then 3yo son, crying like crazy because I was about to ruin everything he had ever known. I felt like I was taking his Mommy away from him. It was a crushing feeling (hormones, maybe?) but I also knew I was giving him a gift in his sibling, and that he would love her like crazy and that it would all work out. And it isn’t always easy, but it IS working out.

    And honestly, even more than changing his world, I changed who he IS. He’s a different kid now. A little more jealous and a little more in need of attention, but also a little more apt to show compassion and compromise when needed. More likely to share and protect. A caring big brother and a good friend. It’s a hard and challenging process, but a fascinating one that I have no doubt you will excel at TO NO END.

    Let yourself have those feelings. And remember, they won’t go away completely once your daughter arrives. You’ll miss these days, and that’s ok.

    • Thank you for giving me permission to continue feeling these feelings, because honestly, I don’t think I can/would give it to myself. The thought of my son changing at his core with the arrival of his baby sister absolutely guts me, but you’ve reminded me that those changes aren’t negative ones! At least not all of them.

  7. This is why I think the second child is the hardest. You are so used to giving your first babe, all your time and love and it is really scary to think that this second baby will take some of that from your first. Its a huge adjustment. But now my two are best friends and we all play together!

    • Yes, you articulated the difficulty perfectly! I’m very afraid of taking any time and effort away from my first! Glad to hear that in the end it all works out, so thank you for sharing that.

  8. I’ve never mourned the loss of the family that we were because we still are. Baby #4 is on the way and I have pictures on my wall that are our family of three, our family of four and (when I get around to it) will hang those of our family of five, all eventually alongside the pictures of our family of six that we will be for the rest of our lives. Just because you’re changing doesn’t mean you can’t cherish what you were before!

  9. Hi Katie!

    I know exactly how you feel. When I was pregnant with my daughter (which happened when my son was only 7 months old), and the due date was getting closer and closer I started to have the same feelings. And, dare I say it, wonder if I could love another child as much as I loved my son! At this time in my life I was a full time stay at home mom, so I spent every moment with him. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy we did special things together, but I knew he wouldn’t remember because he was so young but I guess it was more for me. Our last day of just mommy and Jack was a bittersweet day for me and I even shed some tears. But I’ll tell you what – as soon as my little girl was born it was as if she has always been a part of our family and it wasn’t until then that I felt our little family was truly complete. I can’t imagine life without them both. They complete each other as well as our family and are best friends. It is perfectly natural and normal to feel this way and you are absolutely not alone! Congratulations to expanding your family, the best is yet to come!!

    • Thank you so, so much, Amy, for sharing these reassuring words! It is so helpful for me to know that other moms have felt the same way, and that in the end it all works out just as it should.

  10. The only thing I truly remember mourning was that I was about to rock my firstborn’s world. My firstborn just turned 21, and hindsight tells me that growing our family was so very much exactly what he needed.

  11. There’s something so special about that bond, with the little person who made you a parent! I remember having these exact same thoughts. But, rest assured, you do just have the extra love to give. I can respect the loss my eldest daughter feels over having to share us at the exact same time I stand up for my younger daughter’s right to be a part of our family. You become the parent each of them needs.

  12. Yes! I so understand where you’re coming from. But it wasn’t until you said all of this that I just now thought, “Yes, this is exactly the feelings you experience.” We’re hoping to add a third in the next year, and after two miscarriages as much as I want to expand our family I’ve quietly dealt with guilt that the transition worries me and saddens me some.

    Angela @ Stepping into Motherhood

  13. Totally, totally remember feeling this way both times we expanded our family. I still remember getting our Christmas tree when I was hugely pregnant with the baby girl that would join us just 2 weeks later. There we were, the three of us, walking and I thought, next year it will be four of us. I was thrilled but sad that that chapter was ending.

    Then three years later I did my best to burn the image of me, once again hugely pregnant holding the hands of my 3 and 6 year old, knowing that it would never be like this again.

    But the funny thing is once your new member is there in all their glory you really can’t remember a time when they weren’t their. Wishing you all the happiness in the world.

  14. Oh, I definitely felt SOMETHING when it got closer to my daughter’s due date. Like sadness for my son because he wasn’t going to be the sole center of our universe anymore. Like I was taking something away from him and he didn’t deserve that. Of course, now I can’t imagine life without my 2 kids, no matter how crazy that life is. I think my son’s pretty happy to have a sister too, no matter how much she annoys him LOL.

  15. It’s funny, but I also remember thinking that I would somehow not be able to give my second son the same one-on-one time that my first son got, or that I’d have less time with each child. My husband used to tease me, “Honey. It’s not like you’re going to mother them in separate rooms.” But what’s funny is that my second son doesn’t miss it — because this is all he’s ever known. Even when I try to take him out by himself, he wants his brothers to come. “Where’s Nick? Nick! Come with us! Nick!” 🙂 My youngest can’t talk yet, but I’m sure he’ll be just the same. He adores his big brothers, and I always tell them that Mommy’s arms are long enough to hug them all.

  16. I have four & although I knew there would be enough love for them all, there was still that fear of change & transition before each birth & I always try to take the time to shower each soon to be big sibling with extra time before delivery. I hang those family pictures of old with happiness & remember how it was before the next little came along. Those were good times & so are these. Now & then are all part of our family story.

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