Dear pregnant mama with a toddler in tow,
I see you at the park, clutching your rounded belly while doing your best to push your other child one-handed on the swing, working to keep the enthusiasm in your voice as she begs to go higher and higher.
I see you at the grocery store, smiling at other moms of multiples ("See, people do this all the time!") while your eyes betray a subtler lack of confidence ("...but...can I do it?")
Because you're tired, mama. So, so, deep-in-your-bones tired, in a way you didn't know a person could be while still continuing to move. You're working as hard as you can to keep your toddler's life unchanged while your body takes on some of the wildest changes it will ever know.
You're trying to remember to appreciate every moment of this new pregnancy as much as you did with the first, while simultaneously hoping that all those rumors of second babies coming up to a week earlier are true because woof you don't know how much longer you can do this.
You're tired when your toddler has a hard time getting to sleep at night or wakes much too early to start the day.
You're tired when you all actually get to sleep in a bit and you even get to sneak a nap in the afternoon.
You're tired when you fit in a low-key prenatal workout, and you're tired on the days when you do nothing but lie on the couch watching movies because you just can't today.
You're tired when your toddler asks to be hoisted onto the potty for the fifth time in an hour.
You're tired when you manage to do laundry or get to the grocery store.
It doesn't matter how the day goes—this is some of the most tiring work you'll ever do.
On top of the omnipresent physical exhaustion, your emotions are going through the wringer too.
You worry about introducing a new member to your little family.
You worry how your toddler will feel as their world gets turned upside down. The thought of disappointing them or making them feel like they have to share your love wrecks your sensitive mama heart.
You worry about the shift in family dynamics—how your relationship with your partner will change and how you'll both adapt.
You worry about your ability to love another person as much as you love your toddler.
Sometimes at night, despite how tired you are, you find yourself wide awake in the dark as these worries (and more) race through your mind.
But then, just when you start to wonder if maybe you haven't made a terrible mistake, something wonderful happens.
Maybe it's something small—you and your child have a successful outing where you remember everything and no one throws a tantrum and it crosses your mind that maybe, just maybe, you have conquered this mama thing enough to take on another baby without it completely rocking your world.
Or maybe you're resting on the couch with your partner after your toddler is asleep, and just as he rests his hand on your belly, this new little life springs into action and his eyes light up at the sheer wonder of what your body is doing right now.
Or maybe you're doing dishes when your toddler runs up suddenly and wraps her soft arms around your belly, planting a sloppy kiss on your protruding belly button. "I yuv my baby," she informs you matter-of-factly, and you could cry because this budding relationship is already too beautiful for your hormones to handle.
Sometimes this in-between place, this before baby #2 place, can feel scary because just so much unknown looms before you. But believe me when I say, you've got this. We've been in this unknown place before, with a different baby and a different swollen belly, and we've found our footing and our confidence in ways we never could have imagined.
Yes, this time around poses new challenges. Yes, toddlers have zero sympathy for what you're going through (sorry, not much we can do about that!). But you will both figure this out. And the three of you will find yourself in new patterns and molded into this new family faster than you ever thought possible.
So my heart leaps when I see you, mama. When I think of all you have in store, of all you are already doing. It's going to be a wild ride.
But, then again, hasn't it always been?