As I write this, Adlai is sleeping upstairs, and Koa is lying at my feet, cooing and shouting and occasionally puking or sounding like he’s going to need to be picked up soon, to be wound into the Moby wrap, to be burped and jostled and rocked. But for now, my hands are free, and today is a good day.
The sun is out, which is a fairly new occurrence for England. I’m sure we say it every year, but this was the longest winter ever. It is May now, and it is 60 degrees today, and that feels tropical in relation to the weather last week, or the week before, when I was still making Adlai wear his thick coat and hat to the park…when we made it to the park.
This second baby – Koa David – I love him. But his arrival has nearly done me in.
For the past five weeks and four days, I have been tired a lot, and crying a lot, and wondering how in the world I’m ever going to make this work, what in the world I’ve gotten myself into.
I have missed Adlai. Those who know me even a little bit know that for the past two-and-a-half years, Adlai and I have been the best of friends. A week or two before Koa arrived, I dealt with the anxiety about all of that changing, and now I am dealing with the reality of it. We are still the best of friends. I hope we always will be. But there is someone new here now, and he needs both of us, and we have to let go of the death grip we have on each other enough to let Koa in, to hold his hand too.
I think I’m finding this harder than Adlai is. Every morning, when he wakes up, among “Where’s Mommy?” and “I just woke up,” and “Let’s go downstairs,” one of Adlai’s first sentences is, “Where’s the baby?”
And when people come round, Adlai proudly shows off his brother, and he always wants Koa to get in his bed at bedtime, wants to kiss him goodnight, wants to know when his baby will be big enough to go swimming with him.
The adjustment, for me, has been more severe. I thought I was still in the baby zone. I was not. The lack of sleep has made me impatient. The lack of time I have for my own thoughts or my creative pursuits has made me feel stressed and lonely. And the sharp drop in attention I am able to give Adlai at any given moment has riddled me with what I think is often called “Mommy Guilt,” although it’s a term I’ve always hated.
Again, I think I notice it more than Adlai does. I watch him play and feel heartbroken that I have to say, “Not now” because I’m feeding Koa or trying to make dinner. To be honest, he doesn’t seem to mind as much as I do, and I’m slowly realizing that it’s not going to kill him to wait, and he’s not going to hate me for what I’ve done – that is, giving him a brother.
Taking photos and writing here are the things I would do when Adlai was sleeping for two hours every afternoon, but so far, by the time he is asleep and Koa is fed, if he’s not crying and doesn’t require me to pace the house with him, I have only been able to stare at the TV, to check if anyone has texted me in the preceding hours of chaos. And when those things are done, it seems more pressing that I make a dent in the growing mountain of laundry than pour my thoughts out here.
So that’s where I’ve been. Figuring it all out. Sometimes basking in my achievement that everyone is dry and fed and still has all their limbs; sometimes weeping myself through the afternoons.
I know it will get better, a bit easier, a bit closer to normal. I know because I know moms who have two children and somehow make their lives work. I know because I know moms who go on to have three or four or five, and who would do that if two did not get easier?
The sun is out today. And I have written some words. And I have not cried. And everyone is alive.
So today is a good day.