I stepped over several books, a Hot Wheels car, and a toy horse to get him there, but I gently laid my snuggly little sleeping boy into his bed and settled the blanket over him. He didn’t even notice, although he did roll over and cuddle down into his pillow a bit more in his sleep.
Josiah will be three in March, but he still seems so little. Funny, because when I was pregnant with this little guy, his older brother was about this age, although at times Elijah seemed older.
As our second child, Josiah has been our lesson in realizing the multiplication of love.
When you get married, your love is directed very pointedly at one person. Yes, you still love family and friends, and most certainly and firstly God, but the love that you share with your spouse will build your life and family in a new way. You learn to sacrifice and give of yourself daily to minister to one person.
Then the love between you and your spouse begets a new one: your first child. Suddenly you are hit with so much overwhelming love you don’t know how you can stand it. All of those sappy Hallmark and Johnson’s Baby Wash commercials hit home in a way that is so much more personal and heart-wrenching. (Seriously – tearing up over diaper advertisements is kind of annoying). Your world is so full with giving and giving and giving to this demanding, needy, beautiful, precious child. They bring you joy and sleepless nights, and you love every minute of it (okay, let’s be honest – not every minute. Sometimes it’s WAY HARD, and you are beyond exhausted and frustrated, but you know deep down that they are so, so worth it).
When you discover that Baby #2 is growing in your belly, it’s not exactly the same as when you found out you were pregnant with your first child. It’s just as wonderful, just as exciting, and just as precious. But now you know what’s ahead…and you don’t.
With Elijah, we were blissfully clueless, like every new parent ever in the history of the world. We knew about other people’s children. We had an “idea” (hahahaha) of what to expect. We were as prepared as we could be, and yet we were woefully unprepared.
Then we learned. We experienced firsthand the struggles, the revealing of still-hidden selfishness in our hearts (babies will root it out!), the discovering of unexpected reserves of strength and tenacity that even I, a very stubborn person, didn’t know I had. We endured the exhaustion, the helplessness, the euphoric happiness, the awe-filled moments, the diapers, and the crying-for-no-reason (Elijah’s and ours). We felt the all-encompassing love that grabs your heart and turns your eyes toward Heaven, giving you a glimpse of how completely God loves us, changing your relationship with Him and your perspective of Him forever.
That is how it was with the first child.
The second gives you pause, even if the very briefest of milliseconds of a pause.
You now have experiences, both good and bad. You know as you didn’t before what you are getting into. Those first six weeks with a newborn can be a battle, even with the best of babies, and the nine months leading up to it will be unlike the first pregnancy. Now you are not just pregnant, but you are pregnant while caring for and chasing after a child, one that you have to help prepare for a sibling’s arrival.
You love your first child so much. Will you feel the same toward another one? This next child will be different in many ways. Will you bond as well with him?
In all honesty, Brad struggled more with this question than I did at points, but even I, the mother, who could feel his wiggles and kicks and rib-breaking shoves (he was my parkour baby and still is), didn’t feel as connected to Josiah during my pregnancy as I did with Elijah. Perhaps it was because I was busier, more distracted this time around, since Elijah, at two, required a good deal of my attention and supervision. I didn’t have as many of those quiet, calm moments to just bask in the wonder of my baby’s little life, contemplating who he might become or what he would look like. I loved him, I anticipated his arrival, but I didn’t feel as though I “knew” him as well before he was born as I seemed to know Elijah.
Facing down labor and delivery a second time, knowing what it really entailed instead of the vagueness of the “you’ll forget it all once your baby is here” fib, didn’t make it easier. I delivered both my boys naturally and without pain medicine, so choosing that intense experience again was still a little intimidating.
However, being more educated and confident in my position as a mom, I was ready to face what I had to because I also knew the sweetness and joy of a little one’s snuggles, coos, and giggles; the heart-melting tenderness that engulfs you when their tiny hand clutches yours; the completeness and contentment that surrounds you as they sleep peacefully in your arms; the joy and pride in watching them become their own little person, full of talents, personality, and uniqueness.
Josiah entered our world, and Brad and I still weren’t sure of what we’d name him. We thought we knew, but with Elijah we had pretty much known for certain. When the nursed laid Josiah, tiny and wiggly, on my chest, I pulled him up close, before they could clean him off or weigh him. I just held him, memorizing his puffy little features and surprised by his head full of dark hair. Then he cuddled into me, much as he still does now when I hold him, and I knew he was our “Josiah.”
From that instant on, there was no doubt in my mind that I loved him as deeply and unconditionally as I loved Elijah. There was a space, a huge space, in my heart that was all for him, and he took it over completely.
Loving Josiah did affect my love for my hubby and Elijah, but it didn’t diminish it. In fact, the love in our family multiplied. Not only did we all adore Josiah, but my love for my other two guys grew as well. Watching Elijah become a wonderful big brother and seeing Brad’s pride in his two boys made my heart full to bursting.
We navigated the adjustment from a one-child home to a two-child home with a few bumps and scuffles, but we managed it, even on less sleep than before (because Elijah decided to stop sleeping all night, too, for a while).
While we hoped and prayed that Josiah might be calmer and more laid-back than his brother, we soon learned that he was our little daredevil, full of curiosity, fearlessness, and mischief – the perfect sidekick for Elijah.
As we bonded as a family, I once again felt that all-encompassing love that grabs your heart and turns your eyes toward Heaven, only this time, I saw a glimpse of not only how God loves me, but how He can love me AND every other person in the world, individually and completely, all at the same time.
Having one child had shown me God’s heart toward me. Having a second showed me His heart for everyone.
1 John 3:1 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
Feature image courtesy Picture Bliss Photography.