To my youngest,
I am sorry that I don’t have a journal of my pregnancy with you or of your first year of life. I don’t remember if I had indigestion or the exact day you said your first word. I can’t remember if you liked avocados or how old you were when we moved you into your crib. When you came along, I was busy. I was busy chasing your four-year old brother around, helping him with homework and teaching him how to be a good friend. I was up late at night with your three-year old brother who had night terrors and needed extra snuggles. I was making breakfasts, packing lunches and prepping dinners. I was building legos, reading stories and singing “night night” songs. I was working full-time and trying to be a good partner to your daddy. Slow mornings and lazy evenings were a thing of the past. Every night before falling asleep, I would lay in bed, put my hand on my belly and spend my only quiet moments of the day with you. I didn’t have time to write, but you know what? You have something your brothers don’t. You, lucky girl, have four people to tell your story. No one else had that.
During my first pregnancy, I wrote in my journal every day. I wrote my diet, my physical changes, my emotions, my fears and my hopes. I wrote about the day I found out that I was pregnant. I walked on the beach for hours that day with headphones on, dreaming of what your brother would be like. I wrote about the first time we heard his heartbeat and the tears of joy that followed. I wrote about preparing the nursery and preparing our lives for his arrival. Writing was how I readied my life and my heart for the inevitable changes your brother would bring. Over those nine months, I filled every page of that journal. I bought a new journal to document his first year of life. The breastfeeding, the first smiles, first time sitting up, standing, and walking. These moments of joy were so strong that there was nothing to compare them to. I wrote it all down.
When baby number two was on his way, I purchased a much smaller journal. I worked hard to fill it. I tried to remember to write down the important things. Many of the entries are a mingling of life with a toddler and newborn. I wrote after work, after bedtime, after the kitchen was clean, after a brief catch up with your daddy.
When I was pregnant with you, your brothers were three and four and mama was just so busy. My days were full; full of work, of laughter, of play, of food and life lessons. I was wrapped up in the business of shaping minds and nurturing souls and cleaning up the mess they leave behind. I wasn’t less excited for your arrival, I was just too busy to document it. But you know what? I remember it (well, some of it) and so does your daddy and so do your brothers. I bet we all remember different things and that the picture we can paint together is better than the picture I could have painted on my own.
They can tell you what it was like to hug your big bellied mama. They can tell you how there wasn’t room on my lap for anyone but you. They can tell you what it was like to anticipate your arrival; to watch a nursery transform with little girl things in a house full of boys. They can tell you what it’s like to be a big brother. You were loved by these four people before you were even born. No one else had that.
Many of the emotions that filled the pages of your brother’s journal would have filled yours too. The hopes and fears, they were the same. The love and excitement, they were the same. The joyful tears over heart beats in the quiet of the doctor’s office were treasured the same. By the time you were born, your brothers were four and five and they remember. On the day we brought you home from the hospital, they surrounded you with stuffed animals as you slept in your swing. They brought your blanket when you cried. They fetched diapers and bottles. They oohed and ahhed every time you wore a new dress. Yes, they remember.
Our four hearts are full of your story. Just ask, we’ll tell you.
“I remember when you told us that we were getting a baby. I hoped it was a girl and I was right.” – your biggest brother