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Torn Between Two Brothers

Picture by Bundles of Joy by Georgina

It’s no secret that as soon as Phoenix came in to my life he stole my whole heart. My every day consumed by an overwhelming need to make wonderful memories just for him. My world revolving around making him happy. Knowing I had a true purpose in life, not work, not even love (sorry husband) but Phoenix. My perhaps unhealthy, new addiction, my child.

When I fell pregnant with Indiana, we were thrilled. A miracle baby. A brother for Phoenix. Another soul to cherish with all my heart.

The pregnancy was a tough one and I spent the whole time not daring to believe that I really would have another child to love. On about month 7 of the pregnancy, when he would relentlessly kick me, it finally started to sink in, there was another little soul entering my life, another baby boy to dedicate myself to.

It was only towards the end of my nine months carrying Indiana that I started to worry about how I would love another child? So many friends had a second child and they assured me I would fall in love all over again and that even though, I felt my heart wasn’t big enough to love another child like I love Phoenix, they promised me that I would be surprised to find that a mother’s heart is huge!

Since having Indiana, I can confirm my heart has grown many sizes with love and joy but it has also, at times, felt like it was being ripped in two.

I don’t know if other mothers have felt like this? I am truly praying that some of you out there have. That some of you have felt your heart painfully split down the middle as you attempt to love all your children and give them equal attention.

This tear in my heart started on my second night in hospital with Indiana, after Phoenix had met his brother. It was a messy introduction of the two brothers, Phoenix was tired, angry and distressed. He didn’t want me to stay in hospital and he didn’t care for the reason why I was there either. He left with his father and I was left on my own with my new baby, a vulnerable stranger with the face of mine and his father’s family. A stranger I already loved and belonged to.

As I felt that sense of peace a mother gets as she smiles down at her perfect child, I was shocked to feel a painful pang of guilt. It jolted me in my happiness and I searched to find its cause and as I looked at the face of my second child Indiana, I realised the cause of my anxiety was Phoenix, my first baby boy, it felt like I was almost cheating on Phoenix!

I laughed at myself and tried to shrug it off. How stupid of me, how could I be cheating on my child with my new child? The feeling felt alien to me, surely this was not a natural reaction? Surely no other mothers felt like this and yet, for me, it was there. It stayed that whole night and has continued to haunt me until now.

I know I held back my love for Indiana that night because of the guilt I felt towards Phoenix and if I’m honest I know I hold back now.

I’m careful that Phoenix doesn’t see me being too loving with Indiana and then my heart is pierced with a new painful guilt that I am not always openly showing Indiana what's truly in my heart or as much devotion as I did Phoenix at the same age. Am I choosing Phoenix over Indy by doing this – but if I am openly cooing over Indy, am I putting him before Phoenix?

On my second night home from the hospital I cried all night feeling that I had let both boys down and that I was unable to love them enough now that I had two of them.

6 weeks on, I have got much better and I know how ridiculous I am being. Of course, I can love both boys equally and yet differently. Of course, I am enough mother for both of them.

Like a horcrux, from Harry Potter I do feel that my heart and soul has been split in two though, enveloped by both boys, now belonging to them, I am pulled from one to the other.

Last night Indy woke Phoenix during a feed, then Phoenix wanted me. Feeling guilty that Phoenix’s sleep had been disturbed, I left Indy to be fed by his dad. I then naturally felt guilty that I was leaving Indy to be fed by his father, while I (because he is older and more likely to be affected) put Phoenix first.

By the middle of the night daddy was in Phoenix’s bed, Phoenix was in daddy’s place and Indiana in his ‘next to me’ crib at the side of me…. I lay there, wide awake, holding both boy’s hands as they took it in turns to cry for me. Feeling guilty because each boy had to have half of me and neither could have my full attention.

I can’t dedicate myself to just one baby any more to make those 24/7 happy memories. They must compromise. Phoenix can’t have me to himself anymore which makes me feel bad and Indiana will never have me to himself as Phoenix once did, which makes me feel bad. I’m hopeful that in sharing me and their dad though, that they will find each other and that will be a bond that fills in any gaps.

I don’t know if any other parents have struggled with this as I have. I’m pretty sure my husband Ayden hasn’t felt quite the separation I have.

I just want to be the best mum I can be to both boys. I don’t want to ever let either of them down and yet I have to everyday, so I can tend to both their individual needs and that is what I find so hard and that is also why I know I am lucky too. Not everyone is blessed with a family, not everyone has the privilege of having their hearts torn open by love. Not everyone has the heart wrenching joy of being called ‘Mama’.

I have such wonderful children and I cannot wait to wake up every day to see both their beautiful faces. I’m excited to see how they will get on. What will Indy be like as he gets a little older? Will they love each other? Will they fight? Well if Indiana's naughty face in the picture above is anything to go by, they will definitely fight haha!

I hope I can be enough for them and I know, deep in my stolen soul, that we will make and indeed, we are already making, magical Callaghan family memories and through the haze of mum guilt that I live in, I am the happiest Mama alive this Mother’s Day.

#mothersday #mumguilt