Six months after giving birth to my first child, I sat on my bathroom floor staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. I felt my brain short-circuit as it struggled to make sense of what I was seeing. I was pregnant. Again. I was overcome with fear and guilt as I sobbed. How could I possibly have another child so soon? Shouldn’t I be happy about it? I wasn’t.
I was just 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 soon I’d have to do it all over again as a mom of two kids under two.
All I could imagine was relentless exhaustion, overwhelm and chaos.
And that wasn’t far from the reality when I gave birth to my second nine months later. There were times when my husband was 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 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.
I collapsed at the end of every day, exhausted from juggling the incessant needs of a baby and a toddler. Some days I sat in the middle of my messy living room and cried.
What I didn’t expect was how rewarding it could be.
My son was never jealous of his baby sister because he didn’t remember life without her. I loved hearing my daughter squeal with laughter at her brother’s every funny antic. They would play for hours immersed in the same imaginary world and became each other’s best friends. And the best: they were on the same sleep schedule.
Things slowly got easier. Those gruelling baby phases were doubly difficult as we struggled through them 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 nap times, bottles or diapers. They spend quality time and entertain each other for hours, which almost cancels out the incessant bickering (I don’t think you can avoid that with any age gap).
Having two kids under two 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 parent 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—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.
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