Six months after my first child was born, I found myself sitting on my bathroom floor staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. Surprised was an understatement—I felt my brain short-circuit as it struggled to make sense of the realization that I was pregnant. Again. Shock gave way to uncontrollable sobs as my nervous system was flooded with fear and overwhelm and guilt—how could I possibly have another child so soon? But shouldn’t I be happy about it? I wasn’t. I was barely starting to get back up on my feet after getting knocked flat by new motherhood. I was still breastfeeding, my body was still soft and stretchy and healing from birth, and my brain was still mushy with postpartum hormones. I wasn’t thriving, I was surviving. And now I’d have to do it all with two under two.
At that moment all I could imagine was relentless exhaustion and never-ending overwhelm and absolute chaos. And truthfully? It was all of those things. I don’t remember much of the first six months after my daughter was born because I subconsciously blocked it out of self-preservation. There were times when my husband was gone at work and I laid my crying infant daughter down in a Pack n’ Play in the basement—making sure she was safe and all her immediate needs were met—then sprinted up three floors of our Washington townhome to hastily bathe my son, skim a picture book, and put him down for bed. Then I would trudge back downstairs to spend the next several hours consoling my fussy baby and trying to get her to sleep.
...What I didn’t know was that having my children so close in age would be the greatest and most unexpected blessing of my life.
I knew two under two would be draining. I collapsed at the end of every day, completely spent juggling the incessant needs of a baby and a toddler. What I didn’t know was how rewarding it could be. When my son was never jealous of his baby sister because he literally didn’t remember life without her. When they started interacting and I saw how my youngest was totally enamored with her big brother and squealed with laughter at his every funny antic. When they played for hours immersed in the same imaginary world. When they were interested in doing the same things. When they were on the same sleep schedule. When they became each other’s best friends and built-in playmates.
I knew two under two would be hard. Some days I sat in the middle of my messy living room and just had a good cry. What I didn’t know was how it would get easier in so many ways. Those grueling baby phases were doubly difficult as we struggled through doing it twice back-to-back . . . but then we were DONE. Teething, sleeping through the night, potty training—I was never rusty or out of practice with my second child because I’d literally just been through it with my first. Then, before I could blink, we were past it and in a completely different phase of life. I’m back to getting eight hours of sleep. My body has finally recovered and feels like mine again. We don’t have to worry about naps or bottles or diapers. They entertain each other for hours, which almost cancels out the incessant bickering (I don’t think you can avoid that with any age gap).
I knew two under two would be an immense challenge. And it was. It tested me physically, mentally, and emotionally each and every day. But what I didn’t know was that having my children so close in age would be the greatest and most unexpected blessing of my life. Now, as I sit and watch my 5-year-old and 4-year-old chase each other through the sprinkler on a hot summer day, splash in the tub together, and whisper loudly at night in their shared bedroom, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So to the mama in my shoes, sitting on your bathroom floor looking at a positive pregnancy test and gulping back loud, wet sobs—you are not alone. Your feelings are normal. Every one of them. Your worries and fears are valid. Yes, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be exhausting, but I promise you, sweet mama—it’s going to be beautiful. And someday, you won’t be able to imagine life any other way.
Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom of two, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard parts of her own. You can find more from her over on Facebook and Instagram at Shower Arguments with Emily Solberg.