The one in which guilt swallows me whole

06/16/2011 at 1:40 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, Motherhood, Small Fry | 26 Comments
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It’s been almost six weeks, and my heart is still heavy. I just can’t let go of the special relationship between Lily and me. I had no idea how much it would change. But it has. Because it has to.

I’ve been breaking my back trying to preserve everything just as it was: if daddy does bath, then mommy does books. Mommy helps with clothes in the morning and brushing teeth before school. When mommy is called, she answers, she helps.

Now, the occasions where I reply “I can’t right now. I’m feeding/rocking/holding/changing Sophie.” far outnumber the occasions where I can actually drop what I’m doing and be with Lily.

It’s heart-breaking for me. And these feelings are growing worse with each day I spend alone with the girls.

Of course I love Sophie with all my heart and experience bliss on a daily basis, but I ache for Lily.

I just can’t be for her what I used to be, and it makes me terribly sad. I feel like I’m grieving a loss. Every time I see her, especially when she comes home from being away from me, I want to scoop her up and apologize. Over and over.

What makes it even more difficult is, true to her nature, Lily handles all this with such grace. I can’t help but think it would be a tiny bit easier if she’d rebel or turn into a brat. But she is patient and loving and adores her little sister. She plays quietly at my feet while I nurse the baby, and every morning she staggers into our room in a sleep haze to kiss the baby.

Lily will do anything to get Sophie’s attention, and she doesn’t understand why the baby won’t hold her hand or look at her. This makes me so sad for her. I keep trying to explain that Sophie is too little, and things will change soon, but I don’t think Lily buys it.

And now that we’re caught up in the brutal world of infant reflux, I have even less time to be with Lily.

I miss her.


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  1. Oh, I remember those days and experienced the same guilt, especially at bedtime. At first, I clung to any moment I got alone with #1. But I can assure you that you’ll get to live those special moments with her again very soon. Once you’re through this newborn stage, you’ll get into a groove and get to experience special moments with them both individually and together. Be patient and just enjoy the moments with them both as you get them!

    • Relief. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I keep wondering how moms of two (or more) do it. It’s such a relief to hear that things will get better soon. Thank you.

  2. Just keep reminding yourself that it is beneficial for Lilly to understand that sometimes we have to wait and keep ourselves occupied. Lilly will always know that you love her very much and in the meantime she is learning important life skills by watching her mom. You are an incredible mom and no matter what Lilly will always know that she is love very much.

    One thing that I did with Jimmy was to give him jobs. He was only 19 months when Peter was born but it really did help. He did simple things like handing me a diaper, or grabbing a washcloth from the bathroom. It made him feel important, kept him busy and allowed me to tend to both of their needs.

    • Thanks, Mama! Seeing you and your boys is all the inspiration I need. 🙂

  3. If there’s one thing motherhood is good at, it’s providing you with ample opportunities for guilt. 😉 And if you’re not feeling guilty about something, then I’d argue that you’re not a very good mother!
    Thank you for your blog. Each post brings a smile.

    • Ha! So true! Not only am I a mom, but I’m also catholic, so I’ve got the guilt thing covered. 🙂 Thanks for writing! Feeling so much better already.

  4. That is so normal!! I felt the exact same way. And the worst part about it is that it can make you feel like you’re headed toward PPD when you feel that way. But it’s all about adjusting to having two, and love them each fully. Eventually it won’t feel like your heart is breaking.

    • You’re right. I had been feeling like I might be slipping into the hole again. But I know I’m not. Just need sleep. And patience. Your comment gives me hope. Thanks, friend.

  5. I have SOOO been there, and it really, really does get better. I thought bringing the baby home was going to be such an adjustment for the toddler, but really it was my world that got rocked – I started to realize that I loved Wyatt’s routine as much as he did – I was used to it too! It will start to work itself out as Sophie gets into a routine. Stella is now 9 months old, and while there is still a balance, I feel like I am back to having more time with Wyatt, and I think I even enjoy it more than I used too! Best of luck to you!

    • This gives me hope. Big time. Thank you!

  6. Oh Suzanne I cold have written this even only 5 days in. I had to stop reading books to Madison yesterday to feed Hannah and it had me absolutely bawling. It breaks my heart when she wants me to get up and play with her while I’m feeding Hannah and I hurt so much over it. I’m told it’s totally normal and it will get easier but I just want you to know that I know exactly how you feel and it’s heard.

    • So refreshing to have someone in the same boat as me …its so easy to feel alone in all this. Read the other comments if you get a chance. They made me feel a ton better, and I hope they’ll do the same for you. xo!

  7. Oh my I remember too. And almost two years in, it still happens more than I’d like but it did get better. The baby got on a schedule and the oldest stayed up later and we played board games and had tickle fights again. It was bliss. And when I could/can, I sleep with him some nights. The baby started paying more attention to him and we over exaggerate every look and touch she gives him so he knows he’s everyone’s #1. But it’s emotionally exhausting worrying about it. I try to remember every day that it’s a birth order thing that shapes who they are.

    • Such a relief to read your thoughts. Thank you.

  8. Hope you know you’re not alone. I wasn’t prepared for how much I missed Junius after Pippi was born. But it does get better. Remember that Sophie will hit a new milestone about every 3 weeks for the first few months, so every 3 weeks *something* will get easier — although there’s always new complications, too.

    For now, see if you can carve out some special time for you and Lily when your husband or a friend can keep Sophie — go get ice cream or run around at the park or something for an hour. Or maybe go to the library and pick out special books that the two of you can read while you’re holding/nursing Sophie.

    In a few months, you might find that you can pump a bottle (or just use formula) so that your husband can put Sophie to bed and you can have a night here and there with Lily.

    The other thing to remember is that you’ve given Lily a beautiful gift of a little sister — it’s a trade off, but it’s a gift nonetheless. In a year from now, Lily won’t really even remember these early months and Sophie will be the best audience she ever had.

    • Thank you for writing this. Perspective is everything. Really appreciate you sharing. Gives me hope!

  9. I don’t have advice but just wanted to cheer you on! I’m sure Lily knows how loved & adored she still is. And just think & remember how much she loves Sophie too!

    • You are so right. Just imagining them being friends keeps me going. 🙂

  10. I hear you on this guilt. I had PPD with my 2nd, not my 1st. I am dealt with depression before so you;d think it wouldn’t be a surprise, but it was. And it started with those guilt feelings. So it’s good you’re recognizing your feelings. Hang in there and as all the good advisors above say, it will get better. It really will. And I bet Lily is so young she won’t remember any of this very short period in her young life. At least, that’s what I tell myself about my own kids. 😉

  11. Even though I cannot relate because I’ve never been in these shoes, I felt the need to tell you that you are a great mom. I’ve seen it. I know it. And hey, Mom had to juggle Marc, and our relationship changed, I’m sure. But I bet it changed for the better. I had a purpose. I had to teach Marc to walk. It made me feel important. That, I do know. I liked helping. And that made me feel like a little lady. And that was good. This is only temporary and time will continue to come and go. And your relationship with Lily will continue to grow and change forever. One can only hope. 🙂 Love you!

  12. You’re such an awesome mom…the fact that you’re even worried about this shows how darn lucky both your girls are. Such great advice and words of wisdom from the other comments and Moms. As a 2nd kid, I have to say there are lots of give & take moments when it comes to having the spotlight in a family and it all seems to work out. Both girls will be all the stronger for it! And love each other like we do.

  13. I soooooo admire such honesty and real feelings that you express in your posts. I have an only girl at this point but can still relate to what you write. As the previous commenter wrote — Lilly will be a stronger girl for it. This reminds me that there are so many things we do in our child’s lives which impact them in ways we never would have imagined. Your daughter is growing in a new way and a way who will shape who she will become.

  14. It’s been 3 months and I’m still dealing with this guilt. If I think about it too much I end up crying and clinging to both kids. My son is such a trooper but when he tells me “put the baby down,” and cries out in frustration? It breaks my heart. I try and get him to help and he does and I make sure he knows how awesome that is and how much his sister loves him..but it’s still makes me ache. Just know you are not alone!

  15. I just found your blog and this post really spoke to me as I’m expecting baby #2 in about 3 weeks and I’m already really emotional about my 22-month-old daughter not being my only child anymore.

    I was visiting a friend this morning who has a 21-month old and a 2-month-old and she was telling me she has a lot of the same feelings. It’s always so good to be reminded that you’re not the only one going through these things.

    Although I know we have a tough few months ahead, I do know that my girls will be great playmates to each other in a year or so. Unfortunately, my 22-month-old is not great at entertaining herself, so I’m sure I’ll need to keep reminding myself of this in the next few months. 🙂

    Good luck to you! I’ll definitely be back to see how things are going for your family.

    • So glad you stopped by! I was so comforted by all the moms who wrote in to say that things get better quickly and the time with the older child returns. Hope this might help you to feel better, too. Good luck!! Will be eager for your baby news!

  16. this breaks my heart for you. it will get better. it will.

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