I remember it clearly even though it was two years ago.
I remember it vividly even though I didn’t properly document it with a photo.
I assume I’ll remember it forever because it’s etched onto my heart.
That night, at forty weeks, six days I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. with some cramping and woke up at midnight with real-life, this-is-happening contractions. In a semi-panic I shook my husband awake to tell him it was baby time.
I wanted to labor at home for as long as I could, so I took a shower then sat in the bath for a bit. I tried to relax, I tried to practice the breathing techniques I learned in class. I tried to be quiet so I wouldn’t wake my .
I tried not to let my brain wander to where it had been most of the past few weeks—wondering and worrying about life with another child. A child who was not this one and only child I had been getting to know for the past two years. A child who I hadn’t memorized every inch of yet, who’s face I didn’t know, smile I’ve never seen.
I woke my mother up—who was staying with us, awaiting her granddaughter’s arrival—before I showered to let her know we were going to go to the hospital soon. There was a nervous, but excited, energy throughout the house.
All while my soon-to-be-formerly-only-child lay sleeping.
Unaware that her world was about to change forever.
Unfazed by the conflicting nervous-excited energies in the house.
Unafraid of the shift our family was about to go through. The change in dynamics, the attempt at juggling two children, a marriage, a career and a home. Instead, she had been focused almost entirely on how she’ll get to hold our baby and play with our baby—the one we’d been non-stop talking about.
I got out of the bath, dried off and with the help of my husband, stepped into my clothes I so carefully laid out weeks before—preparing for this very moment.
But I also felt like I kind of wanted to stay. I kind of didn’t want things to change. I kind of wanted to go into my daughter’s room and pick her up and hug her and cry and hug her more and cry more.
Because I didn’t want to leave my baby. The only baby I had ever known up until this point.
For two years it was just us—me and her. Best buds. Partners in crime.
But now, we were going to add to our crew. And I was truly ecstatic. But so very nervous. Nervous about the unknown. Nervous about whether I could handle it all. Nervous about sharing my heart with two children, not just one. Nervous if I could ever be enough for everyone.
It was the middle of the night, but I knew I had to go into my daughter’s room to say goodbye before I left the house.
I tiptoed into her room and stood next to her crib. I watched her chest rise and fall with each breath, admiring her perfect little nose and pursed lips. I couldn’t help but cry as I leaned over the side of the crib (partially because my belly was so big, and I was having some pretty intense contractions…) to kiss her softly on her head.
I whispered in her ear, “I’m going to meet your little sister now. I love you, my baby.”
She stirred a little but didn’t wake, and I tiptoed back to the door, gently closing it behind me.
The second I held her, my worries disappeared. She was amazing. A true miracle made just for our family. As I looked at her, I thought—Oh Maggie is going to just love you, little one.
And she did. Right away.
Two years later, she still does. They’re the best of friends. Playmates, teammates, housemates. They argue over silly toys and they aren’t always so nice to each other—but their love is strong and their loyalty is fierce. That’s the definition of a sibling, isn’t it?
When I was scared of how I could ever love someone the way I loved my (at the time) only child, my first born—I wish I could have told myself two things.
And 2. Part of the magic of motherhood is this hidden love we have within us—deep, powerful, unconditional, endless love. We have love to give in every inch of our bodies. Every nook and cranny. So there has always been enough love for both babies—I just had to trust myself.
I may have said goodbye to life with an only child that night, but I said hello to a whole new chapter of motherhood. A chapter where I have watched my oldest daughter flourish as a big sister and where my second daughter has truly made her place known in our family.
Goodbyes can be hard. But hellos are so beautiful, aren’t they?
Colleen is a wife and mom to three awesome girls. She is the Motherly Stories Editor at Motherly. Follow her adventures on Instagram.