When I was pregnant with Annie, I had a nagging worry. It wasn't how I'd be able to cope with two kids, although that did keep me up at night, especially when Bryce went through his "terrible ones" phase (for me, chasing after a one-year-old has always been much more exhausting than dealing with a two-year-old's temper). Instead, I worried about whether I'd be able to love my little girl as much as I loved her big brother. It didn't seem possible-- he was my whole world.
And of course, like every mother of more than one child, I found that there was room in my heart, plenty of room, in fact, to love Annie too. And Isaac. And Maren. It sounds cheesy, but each time, I found that my love grew exponentially. I loved my older kids and Eddie more as I watched them interact with the baby too.
Last year at this time, I found myself, once again, with a head full of doubt. I knew how to love these biological kids of mine, but it would certainly be different with Rose, wouldn't it? Wasn't part of the reason that I loved Bryce because he was the perfect marriage of Eddie's features and my coloring? Annie because her intensity and enthusiasm reminded me so much of my mom? Isaac because he'd inherited his dad's natural athletic ability? And Maren because she seemed to be a mix of all of our best parts? If she didn't share our biology, wouldn't it be natural that my relationship with her would be different? Still loving, of course, but a little bit diminished?
Of course, every fear I had disappeared on the night of September 26th, when I saw her face for the first time. Through my tears, I knew that this baby was meant to be ours. I already had opened a place for her in my heart, and from that moment, she was just as precious to me as Bryce, Annie, Isaac, or Maren. All of those months of waiting were so hard, because she wasn't just an embryo or a fetus growing inside of me, not yet ready to be born, but because she was already out there, halfway around the world, and she couldn't be in my arms yet. But from that moment on, I didn't doubt that I loved her.
Eddie was different. When I was pregnant, he wasn't holding my hands at doctor's appointments or rubbing my belly every night, eager to feel every kick. I didn't hold it against him-- he wasn't carrying the baby. And when we were waiting for Rose, he had a similar sort of detachment. He signed papers and said she looked cute in her pictures, but honestly he thought that adoption was a crazy scheme I had cooked up because I had too much free time. As we were boarding the plane, he whispered in my ear, "We can still back out if we want, right?"
So while I wasn't worried that I would love Rose, I was a little bit worried that he wouldn't be that engaged with her.
And just like he fell in love with our bio kids the moment they were placed in his hands in the delivery room, he fell in love with Rose in the cold governmental office in Jiangsu.
We shouldn't have worried.
I'm not saying it's always easy-- there are nights when she doesn't sleep, or she sleeps banging her head into him and kicking me. She's zipping and unzipping one of my pants pockets right now as I type. This one-year-old thing, man, it's not for sissies.
I should have known. After all, we've chosen to love people who aren't biologically related to us before. I love my best friend like she's my sister. My godmother really is a second mother to me. And, then, there's Eddie. I fell head over heels for him when I was eighteen, but part of that was opening my heart to love him.
And he's done the same for Rose.
I've never doubted that I loved my husband. We'd only been together a few days when I knew I wanted to marry him, and I've never questioned that choice. Like I said, love is a choice. But it's made me fall even more deeply in love with him to watch him do something he wasn't sure he could do-- to open his heart to Rose and to love her, not just like a daughter, but as his daughter.