“When I was in high school, I would often answer the phone when it rang at home. And the conversation would go something like this:
Me: ‘No, this is Sandi. Her daughter.’
Caller: ‘Oh, I didn’t know she had a daughter. I just knew she had two sons.’
This is a conversation that my parents, brothers and I joke about to this day, but back then, it really bothered me. Did my mom not talk about me? Was she disappointed in me? Was I not good enough for her? Did she love my brothers more than me? Did she even love me? All those questions are another story for another time, but how did she love all three of us?
My heart literally feels like it could explode because of the amount of love I have for my daughters. They are my pride and joy; my world.
But it’s a love that I didn’t realize would be so hard. I often think to myself, ‘Do I love them enough? Do I love them too much? Have I loved them in a way that they understand what the true meaning of love is? Do I love them equally?’ And that last question was once a hard, honest ‘no.’ It’s something I’ve struggled with for nearly 18 months. However, I am accepting it. And, it’s okay. But, don’t judge me just yet. Let me explain.
When my three-year-old daughter, Grace, was born, my heart exploded. She was the most beautiful person I had seen. I was surprised that I could create something as sweet and innocent as her. Her little bald head and big blue eyes; just beautiful. I one hundred and seventy eight percent thought she would be the next Gerber baby and I’m pretty sure I had a following that believed the same. She lit up my world in ways that I couldn’t imagine. She was mine.
We found out I was pregnant with Addison on Monday, January 15th, 2017. Grace was 4 days away from turning one. We had decided we were ready to try for another child and although Andy and I didn’t think it would happen that quickly, it did. God blessed us and He blessed us quick. The day I found out, I called my OBGYN and told the secretary that I needed to schedule our eight-week check and first ultrasound. When she asked how far along, I was, I told her, ‘just three weeks.’ She responded with, ‘wow, you’re really on top of things.’ (No pun intended), to which I responded with, ‘When you’re trying, you take a test as soon as possible.’ Addi was very loved and wanted from the beginning. VERY.
However, the further along I went into my pregnancy, the more I realized I wasn’t doing as much for her as I did with Grace when I was pregnant with her. I didn’t take the weekly ‘bump’ pictures. I didn’t keep up with the dates that were significant during that time (i.e. first kicks, day we found out she was a girl, day we picked her name and how, etc.). I definitely didn’t try nearly as hard to eat healthy just so I could pass my gestational diabetes glucose test. For goodness sake, I ate an entire box of honey buns the night before. Needless to say, I failed that test and had to do the dreadful three-hour test. Never again.
I spent as much time with Grace as possible, thinking that she was not going to handle being a big sister very well. They would be roughly 20-ish months apart. I went into the hospital at 35 weeks on Sunday, August 27th, 2017, because I was certain I had the flu and the on-call OB wanted to check me. I did not have the flu, however, the doctor decided they would keep me in the hospital for the next week and a half until my scheduled C-section the following week. My blood pressure was high and had been since 12 weeks of pregnancy and they just wanted to keep a close eye on me. They also claimed I was very sleep deprived. Of course, I was. I had a 19-month-old daughter at home, my hips and back were hurting me and I barely got any sleep at night due to the constant pressure to get comfortable.
Addison Elease came at 36 weeks and 3 days on Saturday, September 2nd. She was immediately shipped off to the NICU due to underdeveloped lungs. I honestly expected her to be leaving with me when I left the hospital. Instead, she was in the NICU for exactly two weeks (which is another story in itself). I was able to leave the hospital 3 days later and it was so incredibly hard to not be able to take her with me. For the next week and a half, Andy and I took plenty of turns going to the hospital during ‘care hour’ so that we could hold Addi, feed her, love on her. I spent most of the days there, while Andy visited in the evenings, since he worked. I cried daily wanting to bring her home so very bad. As the days crept by, I could never get a solid answer as to how long she would be there. I was so beat down and tired from trying to be at the hospital to meet and talk with doctors and nurses, all the while, trying to be there for Grace and not taking any attention off of her. She wasn’t sure what was happening and I’m certain she thought her new sister ‘Addi Girl’ was just an on-screen baby, since she wasn’t able to meet her in person at the hospital due to age restrictions.
All I knew was that I loved Addi…tremendously, and just wanted her home with me and for our family to be complete, together. The morning I got the phone call that I could come get Addi, I was ecstatic. I saw the hospital had called me and thought they were honestly leaving me a voicemail to tell me Addi had to go back on oxygen or something happened. Instead, it was the nurse saying, ‘Uh, hi Mrs. Chambers. This is Barb calling from Baptist Health NICU. I was just letting you know that Dr. Reid came in to look at Addison and says she looks great. So great, that she can go home today. So, take your time getting here. No rush, we’ll keep a close eye on her.’ I ran out in my raggedy jammies to the garage shouting, ‘We can go get her! We can go get Addi’ to Andy and Grace, who were talking to our neighbor.’ Hindsight is 20/20. I probably should’ve asked the hospital to keep her one more night, so I could REALLY prepare for what was going to happen to me that night; trying to sleep while hearing the oxygen alarms dinging in my head and rushing to Addi’s side to make sure she was breathing.
You all, we brought Addi home and it was perfect. Grace absolutely adored her. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. My family was whole. We were together…finally. The days, weeks and months that passed slightly changed. I went from being in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of having a new baby to just questioning if having multiple children was what I needed. I honestly don’t think I had ‘post – partum depression.’ Maybe I did. I don’t know. All I knew was that I wanted Grace and Addi. I loved them, both, so very much. But I was tired. I was tired of trying to spend equal amounts of time with them. I was trying to be what Addi needed in those early stages of her life, all the while trying to give Grace the same attention and let her know that I still cared for her and loved her just as much. I didn’t want to play the ‘you’re my favorite child’ game, nor portray that to my daughters or anyone else. I didn’t want Grace being jealous and taking it out on her sister. With answered prayers, Grace accepted her sister like it was just meant to be for her. She didn’t hit. She didn’t screahttp://author.beta.lovewhatmatters.com/m. She didn’t withdraw from me. Instead, she wanted to hold Addi, help feed her and lay on the play mat with her, showing her ‘how big girls do tummy time’ and where her eyes, mouth, nose and ears were located. I was in awe.
But, how did God answer my prayers, yet, I felt like I loved Grace more? What was wrong with me? How could I say that I loved Addi, when I knew I simply knew it wasn’t as strong as a love as I had for Grace? I really struggled with this, for months. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband. I felt horrible. Would it ever go away? I pondered if there was a fire in my house, who I would go grab first? If I had spare change in my purse, whose piggy bank would I put it in? If both girls were begging me and both pulling at my legs to be held, who would I pick up? Why did I ensure Grace had the best nursery furniture, yet Addi got my bedroom furniture from when I was a kid? Why did I go all out on Grace’s 1st birthday and Christmas and Addi’s wasn’t as memorable? Why did God choose me to be Addi’s mom if I couldn’t love her like she should be loved…with my entire heart? I cared for Addi an unbelievable amount. I worried about her. I wanted the absolute best for. I loved her, A LOT. But, why wasn’t it as strong as my love for Grace? I prayed for answers and I prayed hard. I only had God to turn to, because I was afraid if I told ANYONE, that I was going to get judged or be told, ‘eh, that’s normal…you’ll get over it.’ And that is NOT what I wanted to be told. In my heart, this was not okay.
Shortly after Addi’s 1st birthday, I started figuring it all out. I loved Addi just as much as I loved Grace, but in a totally different way. My daughters are at different stages in their life and always will be. Grace is the little girl who actually made me a mommy, and I’ll be forever thankful that God chose her for me. Grace and I can lay in bed for hours and have a real conversation, talking about school, friends, makeup or princesses. Addi can’t carry on those conversations with me…yet. But, Addi, she is my little miracle NICU baby who has made me appreciate life so much more because of the fighter she is and was. I swear, she is so stinkin’ sweet and innocent. And again, I’m forever thankful that God chose her for me. If I’m being completely honest, Addi will probably be a ‘mommy’s girl’ in the coming years and Grace will be a ‘daddy’s girl.’ And that’s okay. I love my daughters. I love them both very equally, but both very differently. And I’m sure as they grow up, they will continue to need that different type of love. Right now, Grace likes for me to show her love by really using my listening ears to hear her talk…and sleep in my bed ALL night. Addi loves for me to just hold her and tickle her…and let her stand in the bathroom for long amounts of time just brushing her teeth.
As I grow as a woman and as a mother, I will continue how to learn to love my girls in a way they need to be loved and feel loved. There will be some very difficult times in their life where I may not like them but will love them unconditionally. I’m amazed at how much love my little eleven-ounce, fist sized heart can hold and give.
I had an ex-boyfriend once say to me, ‘How can you love someone with your whole heart so early in a relationship? If you did, they would never get to experience more love from you see your special ways of showing them. Can you imagine if you didn’t love them with your entire heart and got to continue loving them more with your heart, the longer you were together?’ TOUCHE! I have taken that advice and ran with it. I do not love my daughters with my whole heart. However, I cannot wait to watch them grow and continue to grow my love for them and show them how much the truly mean to me.
Daughters – everyone in my life will know who you are.
And for the record, I know my mom loves ME. We may have a different relationship than other mothers and daughters have, but I’m thankful that we even do have a relationship. Through her, I have learned the type of mother I want to be and don’t want to be to my girls. And I mean that in the absolute nicest way possible. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to love me and my other two brothers at the same time…especially through my teen years. I wasn’t an easy child. We have had to learn how to show one another how we love and even at my young age of 34, I think we’re still learning. And I’m pretty content with how it’s going. My mom knows exactly what I need for her to show me she cares and loves me, and I know how to show her…I think. It works for us. And I want it to work how it is supposed to with my own daughters.
Grace & Addi- ‘You will never know the strength of my love for you. After all, you are the only ones who know what my heart sounds like from the inside.’”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sandi Chambers. Visit her website here. Do you have a similar experience? Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from Sandi here:
‘I am a C-section-having, formula-feeding, disposable diaper, working kind of mom. I do not regret it.’: Mom explains her parenting choices, but says, ‘Please respect my parenting views as I’ve always tried to respect your parenting views.’
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