I wasn't prepared for my youngest to no longer be 'the baby'

She seemed too small to be a "big" anything at that point. It felt like only yesterday that we celebrated her first birthday. It was hard to imagine her as anything but the littlest.

I wasn't prepared for my youngest to no longer be 'the baby'

A test taken in the still of an early autumn morning last September confirmed the suspicion that had been churning in my stomach for weeks. I blinked at the little lines in the test window, shook my head and smiled. I leaned against the cool bathroom wall as a wave of joyful nausea washed over me. Just 13 months after welcoming our youngest daughter, our family was growing again.

I was careful to take the test after my husband left for work and I was psyched to surprise him with my little discovery when he got home. The day was spent cheerfully setting the stage for the big announcement. I got dressed up and perched my camera phone on a shelf at just the right angle to capture the moment. It all was so exciting! But as I imperfectly scrawled "Big Sister" in puffy paint on a tiny purple t-shirt, I felt an odd pang in my heart.

I glanced up from the paint to watch my daughter play. She toddled around slapping the colorful keys on her tiny piano. She seemed too small to be a "big" anything at that point. It felt like only yesterday that we celebrated her first birthday. It was hard to imagine her as anything but the littlest.

My oldest daughter had us to herself for years and years but it seemed our baby wouldn't get to be the baby for very much longer. Was it fair to push her out of that role so soon? The feeling quickly faded into the excitement of my announcement and my pregnancy progressed. My daughter and I lived the next several months secure in her reign as the baby of the family.

A shift happens when kids approach the 2-year mark. They have come so far since their newborn stage and the same child who was learning to crawl not too long ago now goes down the slide at the park. They develop physically and mentally in such a short time and are suddenly encouraged by everyone around them to be big kids. Independent and curious, my toddler plays the "big" role well. She feeds herself her lunch, practices using the potty and knows letters and numbers.

Yet in so many ways she is clearly still a tot. Still falling asleep in the shopping cart at the grocery store and babbling sweet half-pronounced words only I understand. She still stomps and wails when she can't fully express herself and looks to me with those big brown eyes for comfort or approval. Even though she is going to be a big sister, she is still my baby.

The morning of my C-section, I brushed my hair in the same bathroom that I discovered I was pregnant in all those months ago. The time had finally come for the new baby to be born and the reality of such a huge change was sinking in. My daughter's time as the baby was officially up. Another pang struck my heart.

My reflection in the mirror blurred as hot tears filled my eyes. Though we had spent months preparing for this change, leaving my toddler home to have a new baby felt difficult. I worried that she would be hurt; that she would be upset at someone else taking up space in my lap, in my heart. It all felt a bit like a betrayal. I worried that she wouldn't be ready but at that moment I realized it was me that wasn't ready.

After a teary goodbye, we arrived at the hospital for admission. Later that day our baby boy was born. The next morning he would meet his big sisters for the first time and I was nervous. How would my toddler react? Would she be angry? Would she be excited? Would she cry? My throat tightened as my family spilled into the small hospital room. I held my breath and studied her face as my husband led her in by her little hand.

The moment had finally come for them to be introduced and she eyed the blue bundle skeptically from the safe perch of daddy's shoulder. Placing her brother in the clear bassinet, I beckoned her to the hospital bed. She sat in my lap and we snuggled. The intimate act wordlessly assured us both that no one could ever take her place. After that, she was happy to coo over our new family member. She smiled as she examined his little hands and kissed him on the forehead.

Though the transition has had its moments of juggling and jealousy, she is adjusting well and loves being a big sister. She is helpful, gentle, caring and learning so much from having him around. Though I couldn't really picture it before, I wouldn't have it any other way. It turns out that I didn't replace my baby with a newborn at all. My lap, and my heart, have plenty of room for both to be my babies.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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