My daughters have been extra clingy lately and my guess is it’s because they sense something is cooking. I remember people used to ask me if my 1-year-old, Charlotte, was excited about becoming a big sister and I’d feel the need to gently remind them that we’d just mastered identifying facial body parts, so no, the abstract concept of having a sibling was well beyond her grasp. Even now with a 3 and 4-year-old there are only a limited number of ways we can get them physically ready for the change of a new baby. They have their own baby dolls, we’ve read the books, they ask questions like yesterday, while we were waiting in the pharmacy line to pick up antibiotics for an ear infection at Kaiser, Charlotte asked me why the baby will only drink milk “from mommy’s boobies”. Though we are doing our best to prepare ourselves, as we learned the first time, mental preparation is mission impossible—the only real way to learn is to just live it.
I’m enjoying these new conversations with my kids—sharing that the baby will be another girl, despite Charlotte’s constant requests for a “boy sister”, since “brother” is an unfamiliar term in our household. My heart, the muscle that it is, is also being stretched in preparation for loving 3 girls, like I love my 2. For example, I explained that it takes babies a very long time to grow inside their mom’s tummy’s and even though we want to meet her so very much, the safest place for her right now is with me—and I had to sniffle back tears when my youngest said, “that’s my safest place too, Mommy.”
With every week, the baby gets compared to a larger more intimidating piece of fruit or vegetable. Typically, fruit doesn’t seem ominous—funny how that changes when you are forced to imagine expelling it out of your body. Finally, when their little personalities develop and you await like a child on the other end of a loaded bubble wand, wondering what parts of yourself will be revealed in them and pray it’s just the good stuff—then laugh at all the parts that feel like bittersweet karmic retribution.
These tasks before us: expanding our family, making room in our hearts, and even birth seem unbearably hard—until they are staring us in the face and somehow you’re gazing into the familiar and think, of course, it was you there all along, and suddenly it feels impossible that anything ever existed without them.