The complexities that exist in family dynamics run a deep and vast range in similarity and differences. The change that is coming to our little family this fall, is unlike any I can recall, nor can my husband, or any of our close family. That is, can any one of us relate to the emotions that come when a family transitions from one child to two? Sure, our families made that transition. The difference is that the age gap between siblings is so small, and came at such a young age that we do not remember being an “only.”  By the time this unexpected blessing arrives in late October, our dear daughter will have 7 ½ years under her belt. And while the past few months have been full of joy and anticipation, the last few days have brought about some very different feelings.

I have been feeling better, so have found the energy to tackle the desire to start creating a space for baby. I painted the room, and have been garage sale shopping, and making lists to prepare. It’s been so long since I was pregnant and in this place, that I feel like I am starting over. DD has been right by my side, offering input and being most helpful as she goes through her things and adds them to the piles of what she wants to gift to little sister. It truly warms my heart. Last night as we laundered some clothes, she was studying the little “sayings” that were printed on all the adorable onesies. She came to one, read it, put it down and fled in tears. I picked it up before hollering for her and read it. It said “Daddy’s Girl.”  

Then, I started bawling too.

We have prayed and prayed that our family would grow over the years. As I turned 35, I decided that God was telling me that His answer was that we would remain a one child family. I gave away and sold most of my baby things last year. The little girl whom I love, challenged that daily. She wanted so badly to have a brother or sister to love. Then, this surprise came. To say that we were shocked, is an understatement. At 24 weeks pregnant, I am still working through the range of emotions. Now that we realize our reality will be here soon, the emotions come faster and harder. Hence, the little Peterson family meltdown last evening.

So, how do I proceed? Daddy laughed and comforted her, telling her that he had room in his heart for “2 favorite girls.”  I watched the wheels turning in her head as she tried to process what he was telling her. The truth is that neither he nor I can begin to understand her emotions. We are both firstborn, but cannot recall a memory that exists pre-siblings. We can’t relate to the idea of having to learn to share parents and things. We don’t have memories of special times with our parents or grandparents that were “just us” or what it felt like to not have anyone to fight with at home. And I, do not have any experience yet with learning how to love more than one child. These waters are rough and uncharted.

As we hit the mid-point of summer, I want time to hurry and standstill all at once. I savor the time that will be the last “her and I” as she has always been my shadow. Yet, I am anxious for fall and the new beginnings. It is the most beautiful, terrifying, joyful, uncomfortable, emotional, and thankful place I have ever been in. I don’t know how I would manage it, if not for a wonderfully supportive husband and small group of cheerleaders who know how “hard” things have been these last 10 years.

For now, I resort to praying a lot, doing research and reading about how to care for and nurture both my girls, and letting my husband’s humor carry me through the tough times. I have never worried so much about screwing up this parenting gig, and at the same time being so thankful that I get the chance to do it again.

For those of you who can empathize, I would sincerely appreciate your feedback and ideas. The HVFH family is chock full of wise women who have supported and nurtured one another. And, it’s a place where I have felt like I can share my vulnerable self. For that, I thank you all.

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.