The passing of time feels so different with the second baby.

Becoming a mother for the first time was life altering. Time slowed as we navigated uncharted waters, together. Every stage of the journey held the intensity of unfamiliarity and the exhilaration of new discoveries. Each month of that first year as a mama felt long- sometimes luxuriously so, as I basked in all the wonder and joy of our new family. Other times the length felt challenging without knowing what to expect, without knowing how we would make it through another sleepless night or another illness. Each day held triumphs and setbacks, and they were all momentous: bookmarked memories that together illustrated the growth of a baby, and the awakening of a mom.

But this time I find myself trying to slow down the days, as they rush into weeks, and tumble into months. There are still milestones and memories, but the days in between begin to blend as we find our way. Life after two is so full – in heart and love and joy, yet also in routine and responsibility and reach. So full, in fact, that time escapes. The sleepless nights fade and the illnesses come and go and there is a toddler and the ship just keeps sailing.

My sweet second baby rolled into this life and family without pause, folding in and claiming the space that the stars left open for her. Already she wants to keep up, to go faster. Already she is enthralled by the world around her, eager to jump in. Already. My heart smiles as I see her blossom, but so often I find myself asking: how does this happen so fast?

There is an undeniable and indescribable magic upon meeting your child for the first time, no matter how many children have come before. Every birth writes its own story on your body, and in your heart. When each child enters the world, they introduce themselves in their own magnificent way, their personality already distinct. And indeed, this is part of the miracle of a second baby: she will open your eyes to the grace of humanity. She will open your eyes to the awareness that children are not merely products of their parenting, they are their own divine souls lent to us for safekeeping. And you realize, the time you have together – though sometimes long and laborious – is borrowed. These days will pass and she will, in time, walk her own path.

This weekend I put away her baby clothes, and held her tight as she cut her first tooth and fought through a virus. I was supposed to go away for a kid free overnight, but didn’t. I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. It feels like our days of nursing and rocking and that sweet baby smell are numbered, and I’m not quite ready.

So instead I chose the sleepless night at home. I chose to drink it in, to watch her sleep and hold her tight. Soon she will be off and running, catching up with her sister. But for now she thinks resting her head on mama’s chest is heaven. Her breathing slows and her eyelashes rest delicately on her cheeks and I watch her fall asleep and I feel that way too. Baby girl, I feel that way too.

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Saralyn Ward is an award-winning writer, wellness advocate, and mountain mama. She is the founder of The Mama Sagas, writes for several publications and hosts a regular parenting TV segment on Colorado's Everyday Show. When she's not huddled over edits, you're likely to find Saralyn climbing peaks or skiing down them, and reminding herself that the two little girls that call her mom are not the boss of her.