Laura has been trying for a baby for six years. Now she is saying goodbye to her “only child”.

Last week on my Facebook feed I saw a photo of a heavily pregnant mum hugging her toddler in an emotional embrace just before baby number two arrived.

It had gone viral, not only because it was a gorgeous image, but also because I imagine so many women could relate to that poignant last hug. A moment shared with your precious first born who will soon have to share your love and attention with someone new.

I pictured myself in a few weeks time hugging my first baby goodbye as I head to the hospital.

having a second child
Laura with son Toby. Source: supplied.

Instead of a compact little toddler sitting neatly on my big bump however; Toby is a gangly and cheeky six-year-old who knows just how greatly our lives are about to change.

The last six years we have shared as a family-of-three have (mostly) been the best of my life.

Toby's role as our ‘only child’ was not what we intended, and it has always stung when we were asked about when we were going to give him a sibling.

having a second child
Laura with son Toby. Source: supplied.

I remember discussing starting to try for baby-number-two just before Toby turned one, yet life had other plans for us. After months of trying followed by three successive miscarriages in as many years coupled with some health issues and international moves, Toby remained our only child.

I was usually honest about our struggle and would say things like, ‘well, we have tried but it hasn’t happened’, or ‘maybe one day’ to just getting straight to the point with, ‘we have had three miscarriages.’

After writing honestly about our ongoing fertility issues and the insensitive curiosity of others, I had many emails from other women who had experienced similar frustrations and found it reassuring to know they were not alone. I took great comfort in their messages and I cheered when some of them were able to welcome a longed for first or second baby into the world.

As my partner and I got older and our lives became easier with just our one little chap at home, we began to wonder whether or not we should even keep trying for number two. We enjoyed Toby's company immensely and loved the fact that we could travel, have fun or eat out at restaurants with him and no longer worry about sleep times, tantrums or nappies.

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Then, shortly after my 37th birthday, we thought maybe let's just give it one last try.

We were ecstatic to learn in May 2016 that I was pregnant, but having had more pregnancies fail than succeed we were very cautious with our happiness and didn’t tell our families until after 13 weeks.

Throughout the first and second trimester, I experienced regular bouts of sickness and bleeding and spent many hours, days and weeks in a state of fear that this pregnancy would fail like our previous three. But thankfully, our long awaited baby number two stayed put, and as my bump grew I could feel my hope and excitement growing with it.

having a second child
Preparing for baby number two. Source: supplied.

Eventually, the panic gave way to an overwhelming sense of reality by the third trimester. What if I just don’t love this baby as much as I love Toby? How can he possibly be as wonderful? What if they hate each other? What if this is as happy as I can be? What if this new baby has behavioural issues? The list went on and on.

I lay awake at night uncomfortable in both body and mind going over the same ground. I would veer from excitement when I peeked in at our new nursery to sadness when I took time to read to Toby at night, aware that I would soon be sharing myself much more thinly.

Saying goodbye it turns out, is never easy.

having a second child
Laura with son Toby. Source: supplied.

I realise now just how lucky we were to have as many years as we did to get to know our first-born son. He might have to share his toys, snacks and mummy cuddles in the future but I will make sure he understands how precious his first six years as our ‘only child’ were to us.

I also hope he will be able to make room for a little brother who, while screechy and annoying initially, has the potential to be a great friend and ally in time.

When I give my darling Toby that big cuddle on our way to the hospital, it will be laced with the huge significance that our family of three is about to become a family of four. It will be a big change; one that we have wanted very much, and I hope that after the shock and the hormones have calmed down there will be plenty of love and hugs to go around for everyone.