Siblings

It’s funny how much I’ve hesitated writing this here. I pride myself on being honest, but for some reason I’ve felt ashamed about these particular emotions.

I feel certain I’m not the only one out there. . . OK, I’m not that certain.

So here’s what I’m thinking:

If I have another baby, and that baby is “normal,” will I love Charlie less?

I love Charlie, but I will admit that I was a little afraid of mothering a special needs child. Time has passed, and now, it’s all I know. Will another child make my feelings less? Will I love my normal baby more? Should I mess with the happy ignorance I have now? Right now, this is my normal and I’m scared to change things.

I know logically that a mother’s love for her children is always there, but I hate to imagine that another baby might make Charlie seem defective or less. I struggle with this–especially as I begin to think about adding to our family.

Have you been there?

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Comments

  1. having a typical kid and kiddo with special needs, i can say i love them equally, but in different ways. i am mushy, crazy in love with drake. i am mad about my daughter. i have always thought it is more a son/daughter dynamic. i expect more from my daughter for some reason. my husband is wrapped around her finger. i could snuggle and love drake all day. my husband has a more playful, rough-house relationship with him. i don't think you'd love your typical child any more than charlie. you'd love them differently. having twins, i don't know this, but i have read more people are worried about loving their second as much as their first, as they are already so in love with their first.

  2. Wow! I admire your courage for putting into words what so many women think in their heads. I think all moms struggle with the thought of another one, whether they have a child with special needs or not.

    It's a mother's love, but it is a different love. This may be a bad example, but do you love one of your parents more than the other? Or one brother over another? You love them the same amount, but in different ways…yet it is the same way because it is a mother's love.
    Sounds so stupid the way I am writing it. I am gagging myself as I am reading this. Just ignore this and know that you have my admiration and full support!

  3. My typical child came first so my situation is backwards from yours. But to answer the question anyway…I could not love one more child more than the other but I certainly love them differently. I will say that Carly is Anna's motivation for living and breathing and everything she does. I do not think Anna would be as far along as she is without her big sister. As someone else said…I was much more afraid of not having enough love for a second child than I ever was of not having enough love for a special needs kid. Your heart is an amazing thing and I can promise you that having another child will change things but most of those chanegs are for the better! I admire your continued honesty!

  4. There is nothing more special to me than seeing my big girls love and adore Elisabeth. I am SO glad Elisabeth has siblings! There is plenty of love to go around. Trust me, if you have another baby the love will only grow :)

  5. I've had similar thoughts…but don't go there often, because we can't have anymore children.

    But, because Max is my only, I wonder, if we were to adopt, could I love that child any more than I love Max? Like, I don't know if I have any more room in my heart for anyone else.

    I like what Kim said though, how we love our parents differently, but the same.

  6. ParkerMama says:

    Oh, how I wish I could reach out and hug you.

    Your heart is so good.

    I don't think you will love your guy any less. In fact you might respect how hard he has worked all of his life even more.

  7. I think every parent asks themselves this question. And it's only really after birth of the subsequent child that you realise the answer is yes, you love all your children just as much as each other (dependant on whether they have been incredibly naughty at any given time).

  8. I'm the opposite…I worry that I would love my second less since the love for my 'special' little girl is sky high and sooo strong. But, if God is willing, we will be blessed with another and I'll take him/her healthy or not. I think I can handle it since that's all I know.

  9. Wherever HE Leads We'll Go says:

    We have been trying to have # 2 for a long time (it feels like forever!). I have had this same thought and was also afraid to admit it. I have wondered if my second child was typically-developing would I love her/him more because life would be a little easier with/for that child. I don't want to feel that way, but I have had those thoughts.

    I do not, for one second, regret the life that I have with Emily. Like you, this is all I know. I love her to pieces and wouldn't trade her for anyone in the world! However, I do sometimes wish her life could be easier. Having a typical child would be a blatant reminder of all the things that Emily struggles with – the things that other kids do so easily. I just wonder how I would handle those emotions.

    I agree with what the other moms have already said – it will be a different kind of love for that second child, but it would not make you love Charlie any less. Just know, that you are not alone in these feelings. I appreciate the fact that you felt brave enough to share them!

  10. I've been thinking all morning about what I wanted to say in response to this. This is certainly a place I've been, since Avery was my first child, and Brogan was born when Avery was 2.5 yrs old. I always knew that I wanted several children, and even after Avery was born with her various diagnoses, I knew that I wanted for her to have siblings. I don't remember whether I worried that I might love her less after having a "normal" child, because I had always felt in a way as if I loved her even more BECAUSE of her conditions, which maybe sounds odd. I worried about how she would handle it when her baby sibling started doing things that she still can't do, and I have to say that I was surprised by how early that day came. I thought it would not happen until he started walking, but having never had a "normal" baby before, I hadn't realised how soon he would start doing things easily that Avery still finds difficult, like sitting properly and going from crawling to sitting, etc. However, I can safely say that my love for Avery has done nothing but grow even more since her brother was born. I am even more aware of how amazing she is. I am even more aware of how different she was from day one, and even more aware of all the obstacles she has overcome. She is even more of a miracle in my eyes now that I know what a normal baby and toddler is like. There is a lot more that I would like to say about this, but I don't have time right now….I will try to come back later to finish.

  11. My husband and I were just talking about how amazing love is. Its something that never runs out… somehow we keep getting and giving more and more of it as time goes on. There is always differences from child to child whether you have the added difference of special needs or not. You may connect with one child in one area and not in others… but you find ways to connect with them all. Love spans all abilities and all ages. If you have another you'll be amazed at how your heart just keeps growing. You'll still be challenged by a "normal" child – more so in some ways. But you'll love them like crazy and I do not think it will take away any of the love that you have for Charlie. And it will give him the opportunity to have a sibling to share life and love with.

  12. I haven't been there with a special needs child, but I can say without a doubt that having another child is the best thing that ever happened – watching the boys be together is the best thing in the world. Having a second child … made me a better mother.

    If/When you decide to have another child, you'll find a new normal. Someone told me that once :)

  13. Small Town Girl says:

    I haven't been there, but I can't imagine you EVER loving Charlie less. And just think of the gift you'd give him of having ANOTHER person to love him!

  14. We just got done with our first week of production for Exceptionalfamilytv.com and this is one this that we (Nathan and I) talked about more than once while telling our story.
    I have been so back and forth on this issue, one day I think it sounds exciting and the next day I think no way I can't handle it.
    It makes me feel so much better when I hear from other moms who's special needs child was their first, it makes me not feel so alone.
    Thanks

  15. Nadine Hightower says:

    Tough Question! I do not have an answer for either. Having 2 daughters, each have a quirk I hate and qualities I adore. But I love them both just the same. But at the same time, I feel closer to one than the other. You'll be the same…you'll see.

  16. Baylee and Blair's page says:

    Girl… Me having kids without special needs (just really bad medical issues) I still had those same feelings. Will I love Baylee less when Blair was born? And, I will have to say it hasn't changed the way I feel about either of them. You learn to love them the same!

    Big Hugs – Tiffany

  17. None of my kids are special needs but yet I still had those same feelings after I got pregnant with #2. I was worried I wouldn't love my first one any more or that I wouldn't love the second one the way I love the first. We now have 3 and I love each of them. But I love them all differently if that makes sense.

  18. Love is love. However the worry is different, the care is different, the fun is different, the time spent with each child will be different. Being equal really means giving them what they need, not what their sibling needs. In the end, the goal for all of my children is the same – to raise happy adults, independent adults, productive members of society. Happiness isn't the same for all people, neither is indpendence, or productivity. But love is still love.

  19. Gina (Mannyed) says:

    Not that I know from experience or anything, but I would guess that your love would never wan for Charlie. I think all parent's have a special place and a special bond for different reason for each of their children.

  20. Gosh, y'all. Thank you so much for the support and amazing openness–this is what I love about the blogosphere!

  21. Very real concerns. I've experienced similar fears. At the end of the day, I've learned to accept that being a parent is a profound privilege, and I have to trust the Lord with whatever miracle he blesses us with.

  22. I am not in your shoes, but I feel like I can say an unequivocal 'no' on your behalf.

    My kid is "normal" so far. I have no idea what will happen in the future, obviously, but … okay, my truth is this:

    Before my daughter was born, I was so terrified I'd never be able to parent a special needs child. I was TERRIFIED. I thought I'd never be able to love him or her the way I should, that I'd never be able to be the parent I needed to be.

    And then I had my daughter. And frankly, if she'd come out with no limbs and half a head, I'd have loved her with every bit of everything I had to give. I'd have been her mother — a great one, I think.

    Being a parent made me more confident in my ability to be a parent to any child, no matter what the circumstances.

    Our kids are our kids. They're our hearts, and no matter who they are, no matter how they are, we'll love them equally. Differently, sure, but equally. I'm sure of it.

  23. Jailen's Mom :) says:

    Here's a bit of honesty right back at ya! lol My son has CP, he's the oldest. Then my "normal" daughter followed. I was scared to death that I wasn't going to love her as much as I did my son…completely reverse of what you're thinking. Anyway, as it turns out, I love the mess out of both of them! I almost want to say that I still love my son more, but I don't really believe that. I love my daughter so much as well. I'm a single mother, though, so I do feel really bad for her that I brought her into this & am not able to be there 100% for her because of dealing with my son. He takes more than she does & I think that effects her. I always say that I've had 2 kids that were both meant to be the only child. So, that's a little something to think about…how to balance them both, but the love part isn't an issue I promise!!

  24. Oh, I am sorry I missed this earlier this week. I can promise you, Katy, that you will not love another "normal" child more. You will love each child the same, and each child in different ways, if that makes any sense. I have a fierce love for each of my kids, but I also love each one of them for their unique traits and quirks and deliciousness. Sometimes, I love it that Max is NOT like Sabrina because having two of her in the house would be the death of me.

  25. PrayforNathan.org says:

    Katy I think everyone's pretty much said everything I would've said :-) I will say though that when Nathan was about a year old, we went to the NIH and met with an absolutely fabulous geneticist. He said something to me that really stuck with me – he advised us not to have another child until we felt 110% ready. I am glad I waited 3+ years to get pregnant with Belle. I know from where I am today I will be able to love them equally and give to them equally. A few months ago, I'm not sure. As Belle hasn't been born, I gravitate in both directions – I wonder if I'll love her more because she'll be "easier"..then I wonder if I'll love him more because he's so sweet and special and loving. But the thing is, just having Belle inside me, I already feel this huge tremendous love for her, and it's the same as the love I feel for Nathan but slightly different, she's a different person and her energy is different so we are already developing a unique relationship (even from the womb). I imagine it'll be the same once she's born. One thing I feel strongly about – I will always do my best to meet their needs equally. I don't want to give more to Nathan just because of his special needs, and I don't want to give more to Belle just because she'll be more mobile. I'm not sure but I will make it my goal to find a way to do both. But, who knows what life will bring, Belle has a marker for Down Syndrome so I might end up with 2 special needs kids anyways, and I am sure that I will love them just the same.

  26. Oh, I can relate! Charlie and Elijah are about the same age. Like you, I'm starting to think about another kid and and I've had the same thoughts. Will I love Elijah less? Will I pay more attention to the things he can't do? Or will I love the next child less? Will I look at them and think, "wow, kiddo, you have it easy! It was so hard for your brother." I've wondered about both. But, love expands. There isn't a limit and I know deep down that I'll love each child in different, but equal ways (just like you will). Love is awesome like that. :) (Oh, and I'm glad you wrote about your honest emotions. I appreciate that).

  27. Can just reiterate what most here have already said.

    Recently I listened to a conversation between a group of mothers – most of whom have just recently become mothers for the second time around – and they were all finding it hard to find a balance between the attention devoted to an older and a younger child. It is more difficult to become a parent for the second time around in that respect. Period. But it does become easier later as the kids grow.

    Our first child is typical and second child had CP. Well-meaning but misguided people told us that we needed to mind that we're not neglecting our typical child. In fact, we didn't. The two kids were at different ages and of course you play differently with a two-year-old compared to a newborn or a typical child and a kiddo with CP. Each get equal attention, but a different kind of attention. We were made to feel guilty and that made us try to compensate for this perceived neglect – which was the wrong thing to do.

    When our third child was born, we realized how "typical" the situation with the first and second child really had been.

  28. You got so many great comments on this post, I don't think I have anything new to bring to the table here. To me a child is a child and you love them for being their own sweet selves, without thinking, without over-analyzing, and the relationship you have with each of your kids is unique. What's that saying? It's like comparing apples to oranges.

  29. Charlie is a miracle. You will NEVER forget that. We don't, and we aren't his parents. You will always love him with a unique love. God saved him. He is here for a very special reason. The next child you will love just as much. I can't explain it. They are all so different. LB and Ab you know are nothing alike, but I love them both no more than the other. There is enough love to go around special needs or not.

  30. I think our boys are about the same age since my son will be starting preschool in August.

    I was afraid of the same thing. I was afraid everyone would ignore LilB (he has CP) and just pay attention to NB. I was afraid of what could go wrong.

    When NB was born in May, my heart just grew. Instantly. I love and adore both boys. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I'm paying too much attention to NB and his chubby cheeks but then I think back to how much I showered LilB with kisses and love when his cheeks were just as chubby.

    The hardest part has been NB reaching milestones at an incredible rate. While they are actually probably normal, it leaves me in wonder. And I've caught myself going through the grieving process with LilB all over again, just as intensly. I think it would have happened either way, though.

    But mostly I've been excited. Someone LilB can play with! I love seeing LilB's reactions to NB. And honestly, even though my plate is very full, I can't wait to have more.

  31. Marie Green says:

    All moms feel this way before having another child, whether their first have special needs or not. But then, the most amazing thing happens: when the 2nd is born, you realize that there is not a limited amount of love to divide between children, but that love expands and grows. It's a beautiful lesson, and such a relief!

  32. I wanted to post something like this, but you certainly wrote it better than I would have. E is my older with sdcp; Vivian is three years younger. Before I got pregnant with Vivian, my thoughts were "well…the chances that you have a child with a disability are small. But the chances that you have ANOTHER disabled child, different pregnancy, are even smaller!" The odds would be with me. so I felt okay about it. I was given a clean bill of health and everyone figured E's premature delivery at 33w was a fluke. Fast-forward to me going into labor at 28w with Vivian, and none of my thoughts were comforting. Zero. A complete panic.

    Viv is fine, and developing normally (b 38w!). I do feel like I love my children equally; but, I constantly wonder if I am paying enough attention to Viv b/c I do spend SO MUCH time working/playing/involving Elena. I figured I would probably feel this way even if E didn't have cp, though. One gem: Viv's "firsts", for the most part, really are "firsts" for our whole family, as she meets milestones that E hasn't yet or never will. The kids have an excellent relationship, and are each other's best cheerleaders. Nothing beats the two of them getting into a giggling match!
    As for more kids, though, we're done. I just can't cook my babies long enough, and the doc says it will only get worse. Guess I have it easy, my decision was sort-of-made for me.