When the New Baby is Coming: Petal Lashes

The petal lashes blink once, twice. A third time.

I don’t believe you, his blue eyes say.

This is what he knows:

There is a bed in my room now. Next to my crib.

I pull tufts from my blanket, white balls that look like bubbles.

Mama’s belly is hard and tight, bigger than it used to be.

I want grilled cheese for lunch. But I am not hungry. Yet.

We are on my bed, my son furled into me like a conch shell. When his father’s out of town for work, we slip easily into crankiness.

We are both of us out of sorts. I’ve scooped him from his pile of toys, a discarded sippy cup tipped over on the who-cares carpet.

It’s time for an impromptu snuggle.

“Just the two of us,” I say. His second birthday is a month away, but mother-time still teases me. Long minutes drag while days slip through my grasping fingers.

How do I make room for another? Why did I steal his babyhood? What words might reassure my firstborn that his world may be different but this fierce, complicated love for him will never change?

We have told him this:

You are our first baby.

We love you. Very much.

A new person is coming to stay with us.

Here’s what he believes:

Tummies are for fishy crackers.

And cheerios.

Not people.

Daddy will be home soon.

He pushes on the bulging drum of my stomach, nudging closer. I cradle him with one arm, reaching across my body with the other to stroke his silky hair. The fluff of him tickles my palm. We are warm together here and the day slows. I do not hear the clock ticking, the second hand arcing and unstoppable.

I say, “You’re my Hunny Bunny,” and he juts his chin in protest. “No!” His lips purse in a pretend pout. “You’re my Hunny Bunny.” He giggles and I pull him into me. He smells like baby shampoo. And certainty. He rests his head on my belly and there is no space between us.
For now.

I’m sorry my sweetheart. So sorry.

There is irony in loving one child so much you feel compelled to create another. I trust my heart to multiply. My time I will divide. But he is not yet capable of solving such equations. He counts on his fingers. And on my complete attention. One hundred percent of me will soon be split. My unborn child prepares to claim her half of me.

Without warning, she kicks from the inside, a tiny poke against his cheek. My boy sucks in breath, his mouth a wide O of astonishment.

He pushes at her and she returns the pressure. An elbow? A foot?

My children meeting for the first time.

She shifts, a rolling heave beneath her brother. She is somehow both closer to me and also more separate. But we are together still. Now.

Just the three of us.

My son, not yet two, tilts his face toward me. Every curve and angle of him is open to discovery. His eyes lock with mine.

Petal lashes blink once, twice. A third time.

And he believes.

This one’s for Jack.

And for Karly.

With all the love I have.

*I originally wrote this for Nichole Beaudry of Take Flight, and she graciously let me bring it home.

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59 thoughts on “When the New Baby is Coming: Petal Lashes

  1. WE have a Carly. But we spell our 7-year-old girl’s name with a C because we’re cool or commies, whatever.

    Your children are adorable and so is this post. The ones where we brag on our kids are the ebst because we really mean them. Well, sometimes I write about my teenager because she’s mad at me and I want her to be happy but of course, it never works.

    Happy 102

  2. Kir

    OH Julie, Oh the Tears, rolling down my cheeks, this was the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written. The spaces in our families that make room for the new members, they are the people that have written themselves on our hearts and given us the capacity to love again, to open our hearts even More.

    I heard it all in this post, it’s gorgeous, just like you.

  3. NannyK

    This is so delicious! Hard to believe they were ever that young. I often wonder if I truly lived in the moment back then. Or was I just trying to keep my head above water? But I do remember loving each stage along the way, thinking the future couldn’t possibly be better than the present. Then remarkably, it always was! Amd now? I am enjoying the teenage years SO MUCH!! But I’ve heard so many horror stories that I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall. A giant, smelly wrestling shoe :). You remember Jack smelling of “baby shampoo. and certainty.” My boys just drove off to school, and their half of the upstairs is a cloud of cologne, after shave, hairspray?, and testosterone 🙂

    Thankfully, they don’t count on their fingers anymore (unless that’s now required in AP Calculus)…but they can always count on my complete love!!

  4. Ok, the fact that Nancy just wrote that her children are driving just about felled me.

    This post? Absolutely gorgeous. My favorite, too. Your writing is simply remarkable.

  5. i totally remember this post and I totally love it…again…it’s wonderful.

  6. I am (almost!) speechless with the beauty on this page. Your words distill those complicated feelings and emotions into a gorgeous bubble of love that wraps around your not-so-little babies.

    If I would have read this while pregnant with D and snuggling A, I might have held onto her and cried until the moment I gave birth.

    Happy Mother’s Day my wonderful friend.

  7. Oh yes, how can this not be your favorite. You? Are magical with the words.

  8. Di

    Yikes, I cried the first time I read this post and I cried again today. Amazing to me that your words can evoke such emotion and yet, as I write this comment, I realize I am not amazed at all. Keep up the great work and a very Happy Mother’s Day to you, my dear, dear friend. XXXOOO

  9. Awwwwww. *Sniffle* Happy 100! What a beautiful post. Almost takes my mind off that dream I had. Almost.

  10. So beautiful. And so, so perfect for Mother’s Day.

  11. Jeana

    This post is such perfect timing for me as I argue back and forth to myself about having baby #2. My first is 17 months and just when I can stand the thought of making her ‘share’ me, I know she will be thankful for a brother or sister someday. Wonderful post!

  12. I missed this the first time around and I”m so glad you’re sharing it again. It’s no wonder it’s your favorite post. It’s stunningly beautiful in its simplicity.

    I hope your kids read it and know how much their mom loves them. 🙂

  13. Jenny

    Julie- I love your wit. One thing I appreciate about your blogs are that they are heart felt and well thought out. You can’t rush those things. Take you time because when you do write it is meaningful.

  14. “There is irony in loving one child so much you feel compelled to create another. I trust my heart to multiply. My time I will divide.”

    THIS is why I still want 12 kids.

    Love you.

  15. shana

    Through teary eyes I write just 1 simple thing– I love this post. And you. So much!

  16. —Dear, Julie,

    I usually pick a favorite quote or sentence to place in my comment…but with this post, every word is exquisite, stunning, flowing, heartbreaking, beautiful…..

    You just took my breath away.

  17. This was ever so lovely.

  18. Its so good to know that my heart gets bigger and bigger with love and not just my *ss …
    How I heart this post, and you and your words. Had not read it before – how could that be? What a gift you share with your children, and grandchildren to come – to have these glorious memories captured here in such sheer utter loveliness xxxx

  19. This is beautiful.

    That is all.

  20. It’s near impossible for me to capture moments like that with words. I’m sort of envious here.

    I’m reading this while the kids are napping. The windows are open and there’s a breeze, and this story fit into my quiet time beautifully.

  21. Beautiful, like you. And hey, 100 posts in two years is enough. It’s about quality, not quantity – and you bring the quality!

  22. I remember this one, and it is still just as wonderful the second time around. I think it was divine intervention that you forgot until 102, b/c this is perfect for Mother’s Day.

  23. Wow. Just WOW! That’s all I can say. Your words are stunningly beautiful. (Oh if only I could write like you.)… I think this is my favorite post too! xoxo

  24. Julie: This is stunning. Just. Stunning. Even the 2nd time. I posted a piece that I love very much, and it isn’t getting any action. I’m devastated.

    That said, this is a weeper.

    And it makes me wish I could have another.

    (But not really.)

    Congratulations on your 102nd post.

    Here’s to 102 more.

  25. Lump, meet throat.

    You know, the more Luke grows, the closer I get to him. WE’re buddies. He trust me so much. It’s not time for another yet, but the time is getting closer and I can’t imagine the feeling I’ll have trying to explain that to him…hope it’s a lot like this.

  26. Your writing is real and it’s spectacular.

    And you made me cry, you bitch.

    Love you.

  27. Love this.

    It makes my bitter heart happy.

  28. Absolutely enchanting. Happy tears in my eyes. I know you mostly from your humor, so it is such a treat to also see this side of you. So beautiful. You are one special lady is what you are, Ms Julie!

  29. This was how I found you, I think.

    So it’s pretty special to me, too.

  30. I’m totally bawling. It has nothing to do with your post, of course, and everything to do with my current lingering nasty illness.

    (Ok, it may have a little something to do with your post.)

    (Ok. A lot.)

  31. Julie, this is so, so lovely. This…”He smells like baby shampoo. And certainty.”…I love this.
    I’m all wistful over here and my heart is melting.
    What beautiful writing and what a beautiful heart.

  32. Oh the petal lashes. Eddie has those.

    And our experience before Charlie? This.

    And our chats? These.

    And meeting his brother. The same.

    This post is probably the one where I feel like you are most like me…like your writing most touched my heart and soul.

    This post is so close to me and where I am in my life right now.

    You have a great way of doing that.

    Giving me nudges in my mommy heart.

  33. Christy H.

    I felt the same way…only I disturbed his world with three new people. He doesn’t remember life without them…and I like it that way…but I do remember life with just him.

  34. Simply beautiful. No, breathtaking. I’ve been there, my 100% dividing. What a strange mixture of emotions. You’ve captured it so well (and a little piece of my heart). Just lovely…

  35. I love this. I remember these feelings, oh so very well. I remember once picking Lanagan up out of a sound sleep and whispering in his ear that I was sorry for my soon-to-be shared attention. I love what you said to him vs. what he actually heard. I’m sure we stress over this stuff way more than they ever do. Such a beautiful post – happy 102nd. 🙂

  36. What a powerful piece of writing. Stunningly beautiful, like you. xo

  37. This is beautiful. Your writing always make me think of two words…show off. haha Love ya kid.

  38. I missed this the first time… but MAN – what an amazing piece of writing. Beautiful. Completely beautiful.

  39. I loved this the first time I read it (when you directed me to it, after I bemoaned that I wasn’t sure how to deal with two), and I love it now, more than ever. Because now that my boys have met, and my toddler loves his little brother, and I love them both so much – I love this piece even more. xo

  40. I could read this at least 102 times and still be bawling like a little baby. Beautiful writing, my friend.

  41. Mel

    This leaves me with absolutely no doubt as to why this is your favorite post. Beautiful and perfect.
    Congratulations on making 100 (and two).

  42. Oh your heart that I love.

    I remember this post.

    It was one of the first of your’s that I read.

    And obviously, I fell in love with you on the spot.

    I’m glad you brought it home.


  43. liz

    You can be so damn funny and then flip the switch and be so darn sentimental!

    I don’t have any memories of Kate cuddling up near Maddie. But I blame Kate’s lack of cuddling on that. 🙂

    Happy 100 posts, my darling!

  44. And I said I would follow you anywhere. Yet I somehow missed this. So glad you posted again. Happy Mother’s Day.

  45. Love love love!!! And how true this line is–never thought about like that: “There is irony in loving one child so much you feel compelled to create another.”

  46. Happy Mother’s Day, doll. Great post. I, too, loved the line about irony in creating another child.

  47. Such a beautiful, magical moment! 🙂

  48. Too sweet. I think I remember reading this before. I remember thinking I never had this experience, there were always two. But I also remember wishing I could focus all my attention on just one (like “everyone” else). I’m a little jealous of you singleton moms for that.

  49. Awesomeness….

  50. I love this too.

    Oh don’t make me cry in front of my children who are jumping over couches and doing kung fu. I have to pretend like I’m big and strong and don’t cry.

  51. Yay for us lazy bloggers!
    I had such guilt over making my son a big brother at seven months, and now I see how having a sister has multipled the love he receives and gives.
    You capture that mommy feeling so well.

  52. I think I might cry! This was beautiful! I love, love, love that his hair smelled of baby shampoo…and certainty. I loved that.

  53. We love you. Very much too.

  54. Gorgeous. Brings me right back to that same time, just two years ago when my almost-two-year-old and I were similarly having a snuggle and his little brother kicked. He looked shocked and then looked right at my belly and said, “Again!” His brother obliged. I too felt worried that I was stealing his babyhood, but that connection and more since have carried me through the tough first years. Now it is such a joy having them close in age. I hope they will remain close in spirit, too, the rest of their lives.

  55. Dolores Anderson


    Beautiful, simply beautiful

  56. Yes, yes, yes yes yes yes yes!
    I so love this, Julie. Your words makes my heart swell. And also fuel my baby hunger. Darn you.

    But more about loving you: more than you can know.

    Also: thank you for being such a dear friend.

  57. This is beautiful. I am terrified to have a second child, for many reasons, but one of them is the wondering of how I could possibly love another as much as I love my son. I love this story of your children meeting for the first time, and the way that kick told you all everything you needed to know. Perfect.

  58. Beautiful. Just beautiful! I think moms automatically come with enlarged hearts. 😉

  59. Michelle Hillstrand

    You always have a way to make me stop
    ans remember….if all of forever so enjoy the moments while they sit with you. Love this story and you!!!

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