A letter to my son, Jia

Today you are three months old and it is incredible how quickly the time has gone by.

I was in love with you from the very start, I knew that much was true. But everybody told me that having a second child would make my heart expand instantly and I was disappointed to find out that for me, it did not.

In our first days together I watched my toddler roam freely with my husband while you and I took our place on the couch. Day in, day out, that was our place. You fed, I sat. 

I sat so long my tailbone went numb and I secretly wished I could swap places with my husband. I longed to have my toddler back, to be his “main” parent and to have things back to the way they were before you came along.

We’ve spent a lot of time on the couch since then.

It’s been a game of ping-pong: I get sick, you get sick. I get well, you get well. I’ve watched too many times as you’ve struggled to breathe through your congestion or get a cough out of your chest.

I watched you struggle with all my milk had to offer. You had hours of discomfort while you lay in my arms. There were lots of bum pats, back pats and rocks in the living room while we binge-watched The O.C into the wee hours of the next morning. There were big cries from you and bigger cries from me and through my tired, teary eyes I had to remind myself you wanted the sleep as much as I did. You just didn’t know how. Often we fell asleep next to each other, too exhausted to continue fighting.

But the days have rolled on. One day you woke up from a very long sleep and when I fed you, you took on all the milk. As I sat you up, a burp coursed back up through your throat with ease.

Things were changing.

The smiles started, your cheeks filled out and your eyes brightened. Suddenly I was no longer looking at a newborn baby, but at a confident infant who was ready to chat, laugh and lock eyes intently.

I learned your different cries: the way you sounded when you were too hot, or too tired, or needed that nappy changed once again. I got to know you, and you, though I’d let you down so many times, welcomed me again and again with your companionship and your endless smiles.

You showed me that all you needed was me. All my frustration seemed to fall away. My heart hadn’t expanded, but the love that was coming from it was now strong and relentless enough to stretch to two.

It makes me a little sad to know that you will never have my full attention or affection the way your brother did, but I have things with you I never had with my first child. I have perspective to know how quickly everything changes, I have confidence in my instincts as a mother and I have the experience to know it’s okay when things don’t run like the textbook says they should.

You tell me that all I have to give is all you need. That strives me to be a better mother and to use this short time I have with you to love you completely.

We named you Jia for a reason. It means “home”. It means “family”. I truly do believe that is what you have turned us into. Because everywhere I turn, everything I do, you now come into the equation.

You feel like home, Jia, and this is your home. Welcome.

Rachel Chen