It all started with an increased sense of smell, as crazy as that sounds. That was the first clue that I might be pregnant with my second child. My cycles have always been irregular, so I didn’t notice I was late at first. But that heightened ability to smell had me counting days and buying a box of pregnancy tests.

I took two of them while my husband was at work and my 7-month-old daughter was taking a nap. I wanted to be happy when they were both positive, but I was teetering between denial and terror. I had no plan whatsoever to have a second child so soon. Could I handle this? What would my husband say?

I wish I had done some Pinterest-inspired reveal when he got home that evening, something worthy of such a monumental announcement, but I fidgeted nervously throughout dinner and blurted out the news without preamble. I was greeted with a stunned silence that seemed to stretch on forever. He was freaked out.

Yeah. Me too, buddy.

We were already sleep-deprived new parents with just the one baby. The idea of doubling our responsibilities, and diaper budget, was overwhelming. But as the pregnancy progressed, we grew more and more excited. We had always wanted two children and this one was a boy! It was sooner than planned, but now our family would be complete.

Over the course of my pregnancy, I tried to prepare myself for life with two babies, but I have found it to be an unpredictable journey. There have been some nearly sleepless nights and simultaneous meltdowns between the children (and sometimes me), but my son is the best surprise I’ve ever gotten. Here are a few reasons:

1. My daughter will never remember a time he wasn’t in her life.

She was only 14 months old when he was born and there was no real conflict when I brought this new tiny human into her life. She was curious about him, of course. But now, nearly two years later, he is an essential part of her existence.

2. He looks up to her.

As he grew and became more aware of his surroundings, I noticed that my son’s gaze was often trained on his vivacious big sister. The look in his eyes reflected awe-struck wonder and when he started crawling, he used that newfound mobility to become her shadow. It gave me a glimpse of their life-long close relationship and seeing that was incredibly rewarding.

3. You get through the tough stuff all at once.

The toddler years can be rough. There’s frustration as they struggle to communicate before they have the ability, tantrums over trivial things (or nothing), and the hassle of potty training. When your children are less than two years apart, these phases are back-to-back, which can be difficult. But then it’s all knocked out in one fell swoop and they can move onto the next big thing together.

4. It forced my older child to develop independence.

No matter how much I tried to do it all and juggle the needs of both children, I found that I had to prioritize. The fact is, a newborn is needy. If he’s not asleep, he needs attention, usually in the form of feeding. I tried to entertain my daughter, who had just learned to walk when her brother was born, as much as possible. We even played fetch with a bouncy ball a couple of times while I breastfed, I’m embarrassed to admit. But over time, she learned to entertain herself, demonstrating a creativity in her playing that hadn’t been there before.

There’s no denying that my hands are full these days. Just navigating a double stroller through a crowded store is an ordeal. But looking back at my feelings of trepidation at the beginning of my second pregnancy, I feel a little silly now. I know that God only gives us what we can handle, and this was meant to happen. Now each of my children has a best friend for life and it’s a privilege to watch that bond grow.

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Courtney Mack

My name is Courtney Mack and I am a stay-at-home with two toddlers. My first child was a preemie and my second was a wonderful surprise. They are both amazing gifts from God. My husband and I have been blessed.