Shop the fall collection ➔

When you have your first child and they hand you that baby, you think to yourself there is nothing in the world you could love more.

Then, you find out you’re pregnant with your second. Secretly, you think to yourself you and your firstborn have this unbreakable bond and he still may be your favorite, because he was your first, after all.

Then you come home with your new baby and your oldest runs over while holding a foam sword in one hand and hard plastic flute in the other. You stiff arm your firstborn away like you’re Todd Gurley. You feel this innate sense to protect your baby (the new baby of the family) from your oldest. So, the barrier begins.

I find all of this a little amusing as I am also the oldest. I always felt this little bit of a barrier between my mother and me when it came to my younger brother. Why was it always my fault when something broke? Why does she still pour his cereal for him at age 25? Why was it my responsibility to set the example (mind you, I did)? I graduated high school with a 4.0 and went on to graduate college in three years. I did have a great childhood and have an amazing relationship with both my parents to this day, but that always loomed in the back of my mind. Then it all came full circle that day I brought my son home to my almost-3-year-old daughter.

I, of course, love both of my children the same—unconditionally. But, what no one warns you about having your second child is the frustration you will take out on your first. You expect your toddler to now act like an adult as you truly have a baby back in the house. I remember telling my daughter you can get your own snack, you can put on your own shoes, you can find that lost toy. I would snap at her, my patience lacking from only getting a couple of hours of sleep.

I would hear my son cry and immediately think my daughter had done something to accidentally hurt him or wake him (most of the time it was her waking him). I could feel this growing resentment toward her that I hated. She would be hanging off my neck while I had my son on my boob and I just wanted her to leave. I wanted that special time with my son and mostly, I just wanted time to myself.

Finally, one day when she was acting out about something minuscule, I caught myself, and instead of yelling I simply asked her, “What is the matter?” She turned to me with her beautiful blue eyes and said, “I just want you to hold me.” My heart sank. I couldn’t even think about the last time I had held her. Her bedtime routine had been cut down to five minutes of YouTube Kids and a quick prayer goodnight for the past month, all while I rocked my son for what seemed like an eternity to get him to fall asleep.

It was in that moment that, for the first time, I felt like I was failing at being a mom to two souls. I had to take that barrier down that was put up the day I brought my son home. I took her in my tired arms and held her. I could hear my son crying in the distance for his next feeding. My daughter let go and said, “it’s OK mommy, go get him.” I didn’t. I let him cry it out a little longer while I held my first baby.

Now, a year later my daughter is the BEST big sister I could ever ask for. Those first months with a new baby and a toddler do seem to drag on, but somewhere in the midst of the chaos, your older child will see and learn the love you have for both of them. My daughter has stopped my son from choking on random items more times than I can count. She looks out for him, she plays with him, she loves him. It’s not always rainbows (there was that one time she held his head underwater during a bath to teach him how to blow bubbles), but for the most part, they are great together.

I have learned how to break that invisible barrier down. And hey, even if I still snap at my eldest from time to time and expect more from her, there is a reason for it. I’m raising her to be a confident, successful firstborn woman. After all, that’s why they say the oldest is more likely to be president and most astronaut to go into space have been eldest children. I’m a pretty fabulous oldest child myself, too.

You may also like:

Dear Toddler, We’ll Figure Out How to Handle a New Baby Like We Do Everything Else: Together

My Second Baby Taught Me to Mother Without Fear

Rachael Ramas

Rachael is a writer and chief encouragement officer to her fam of four. She is a Jesus lover, baby hugger and schedule juggler. As a midwestern girl living in a South Florida world, she enjoys transcribing her time raising her fournager daughter and wild man one year old. She doesn’t take herself too seriously but does her kids bedtime.

No One Will Ever Call Me Mom

In: Baby, Motherhood
Negative result digital pregnancy test

This is going to be a tough one. Another seemingly innocuous situation that should be easy, but for me is anything but. It comes in different forms—a conversation, a moment in a TV show, a scene in a book—but it always has the same effect. Some reference to motherhood makes me flinch.  Today, it’s in an English lesson I’m teaching online to a 7-year-old boy in China. I’m supposed to be teaching him to say, “This is my mom.” Slide after slide in the lesson shows a happy mom cuddled next to her child. Mom and daughter hugging. A toddler...

Keep Reading

To the Nurses Who Loved My Baby In the NICU

In: Baby, Motherhood
Woman smiling at newborn in hospital chair

I wish I could remember your face. Your name. Something. But I only had eyes for the tiny baby in front of me. My whole world was about to change and I think you understood that more than I did. He was so tiny. Impossibly small. I had never held a baby so little. He made up for his teeny size with an impressive mop of jet black hair that stood straight up on top of his head. He also had hair all over his body and you reassured me this was normal for a preemie. There was so much...

Keep Reading

My Last Baby Changed Me

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother and baby touching foreheads

I was already a mom of two teenagers. I thought I’d move to a city and join corporate America in a few years. But my last baby changed me. There would be no law school or big city living. Now, I write about life in my little country home. And I don’t see that changing. I thought I’d be that old lady with 10 cats. I already had three I snuggled and loved on. I never cared about the litter box, the clawed couches, or the meowing. But now I find myself disliking pets. I hope that might change. But...

Keep Reading

Real Life Maternity Photos Are Beautiful Too

In: Baby, Motherhood
Pregnant women on floor next to toilet, black-and-white photo

As a maternity and newborn photographer, my feed is full of radiant moms and seemingly tidy spaces in the families’ homes we work in. We always want you looking and feeling your best in your photos, and to avoid clutter that can distract from the beautiful moments we’re capturing. An unfortunate side effect is that it creates the impression of perfection, which can be intimidating for anyone interested in booking a photography session. In our consultations, we frequently hear concerns from pregnant moms like, “I’ve gained so much weight,” “I have nothing to wear,” “My home is a mess,” or...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

You Used To Fit In My Lap

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler lying on mom's lap in rocking chair, color photo

Hi Love, Remember when you could fit comfortably across my lap in this chair? I do. We’ve done a lot of sleeping and feeding and reading and rocking and laughing and crying (yes, both of us) here these last few years. We still manage to make it work for all of the above, but these days we most often sit side by side. When we don’t, I’m fairly certain we both wake up sore the next day from the necessary contortions. (OK, probably just me.) It’s true, there is a larger chair waiting for us in what will soon be...

Keep Reading

We Don’t Get To Know You, but We Will Always Love You

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
Couple holding baby announcement

Dear baby, There is still so much about your dad and me you don’t know, but that takes time. Parents aren’t the only ones watching loved ones evolve. Over time, kids meet new versions of their parents too—we change, we make mistakes, we grow. I often think about what an adult relationship with you would look like, how we might bond or argue, the inside jokes we might have, how we’d show each other love. I hope we’d be close. I don’t know if you’d be loud and goofy like your dad, an empath like me, or something else entirely....

Keep Reading

5 Ways Being a NICU Mom Changed Me for the Better

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding up smiling baby, color photo

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was panicking inside. A multiples pregnancy would be anything but a breeze. At our 20-week scan, my husband and I were told that our baby girl had a life-threatening birth defect that could lead to serious complications like heart failure and even death if left untreated. In addition to interventions during the pregnancy, she would require lung surgery immediately after birth. This diagnosis coupled with the fact that our babies were born at 34-weeks earned us a NICU stay of nearly three months.   I could write a whole book...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Your Baby Starts Out Feeling Like a Stranger

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn feet

Rolling over in bed, lights off and covers pulled high, I whispered to my husband, “It finally happened. I feel bonded with Bubba.” Our sweet 3-month-old slept peacefully in the cradle beside us as I shared the happy news. I laid back on the pillow and smiled up at the ceiling in a silent prayer of thanksgiving and joy. Motherhood feels like the most instinctual journey I have ever walked, but bonding doesn’t come naturally to me, and it never has. When I pulled our firstborn onto my chest for the first time a few years ago, I expected the...

Keep Reading

Becoming Someone’s Mother Can Feel Foreign

In: Baby, Motherhood
New mom holding baby

For my little girl—I’m so blessed I get to be a part of her world. My life changed in a minute. She came into this world so perfect and innocent. I heard her cry and then they handed her over. I held her in my arms and thought I would know her. I longed for that feeling, like I finally felt whole. But the longer I held her, the bigger the hole grew in my soul. It wasn’t long after, in a room full of people, I felt so alone. Motherhood can be evil. I just wanted to go home....

Keep Reading