First Born Love, Second Born Love

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Miss Rose was the culmination of a lifetime ambition.  I had always dreamed of having a child, motherhood being an even bigger goal for me than being an author, and I longed to one day have a daughter.  When Miss Rose was born she brought with her the realisation of those dreams and filled me with such an intense sensation of happiness and satisfaction that I had to cry with joy.

Towards the end of her first year I started suffering with my mental health.  My marriage was rocky at best, we were financially struggling, and I felt incredibly alone.  When my husband left a couple of months after her first birthday it was just two days after I revealed to him I had been referred back into counselling due to depression and suicidal thoughts.  I hit breaking point.  My life was in my little girl’s hands and my goodness did she hold it tight.

After her father left Miss Rose suffered terribly with panic attacks and anxiety, two things I am horribly aware of, and she needed me intensely to provide her with the security and love and support of two parents in just one.  And it was at at time when I was struggling to handle just my own emotions, let alone those for a heart broken toddler.  We supported one another as much as I supported her.  I couldn’t sleep until she was with me, so I would smuggle her from her own little bed in her own little bedroom and tuck her in with me, then through the night we would hold onto each other and feel a safety we didn’t feel any other time.

Miss Rose was my whole world and she saved my life.

After a couple of months, we moved into our own little house in town.  Just her and me.  Not the large marital home we’d been so proud of but something better.  A space for just us to start fresh.  She and me.  We spent nearly a year living side by side, dealing with the ups and downs of single parenting and divorce and toddlerhood together.  Me and Rose against the world.  We took it on and we won because we were together.  Sometimes of course we took on each other, and it was probably a fifty fifty split of who won in those instances, but for the most part we were united against anyone and anything that tried to break up our little world.

We’ve been through a lot, she and I.

Now we’re living in a new family home.  Miss Rose’s biological father isn’t on the scene but The Boy has stepped in and raises her as his own and she adores him.  We live with him and his little boy who Miss Rose both loves and hates as if he were her own biological brother.  And I’m pregnant.

The circumstances which are welcoming Baby B into the world are totally different to when Miss Rose arrived.  I am totally different.

I shall not be raising her alone because The Boy is an active and involved father, this clearly evident in what I see every single day.  I shall not be isolated like I was because I’m both in town and near friends and family, and because The Boy chooses to spend most of his time in my company, whereas Miss Rose’s father tried to do anything but be in my company.  I’m also not struggling with my mental health in the same way I was.  Don’t get me wrong, I still slip sometimes and fall into the dark places that so many of us have lurking in the backs of our minds just waiting to cloud our eyes, but I fall less regularly and claw myself out more quickly now.  I’m well.

Whilst, obviously, the circumstances into which Baby B is being born are substantially better than they were for Miss Rose, I do worry about what impact that will have on our relationship.

I love Baby B.  I love her so much and the fear I felt when I was certain she had died whilst I was hospitalised with swine flu convince me that I’m not just imagining this love!  This baby is loved.  But she is not as desperately longed for as Miss Rose was, I already achieved that goal and the broodiness was abated.  I’m also not going to be as emotionally dependent on her as I was on Miss Rose, and in turn she won’t be as emotionally dependent on me.  It will never be me and Baby B against the world.  It’ll never be me and Baby B clinging to one another to survive the night.  I’m now a working mother putting time and energy into writing and promoting my novels, whereas with Miss Rose I had quit my job and dedicated every day purely to loving and raising her.  She will never be the only child.

Will that mean my relationship with her is worse?  I don’t think so.  I think it will be different.  I think she will ultimately have a happier start in life because she will have stability in her life and reliability in her family.

But I worry.  I fear that I will favourite Miss Rose purely because of what she has been for me in times when I needed her most.  I fear that Baby B will be aware of what we went through together and resent that she couldn’t have that with me too.

The Boy reassures me that my love for Baby B is as true and honest as my love for Miss Rose and there is no way I will ever favourite Miss Rose, and he genuinely means and believes it.  I take heart from this.  He saw me at my worst when both Baby B and I nearly died and I was stripped down to purely my love and fear for the health of my daughter.  I love Baby B.

But still the worry shall stay with me, and it shall no doubt stay with me until she is born and she is in my arms, and I can look at her and know that she is my whole world, just as Miss Rose was from the moment I met her too.

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