The morning before your sister arrived, you woke up extra early. Like usual, your dad offered you a cup of milk, and you laid in my arms on the couch while you drank it. After your milk was gone, you handed me the empty cup and went back to sleep (which you never do). Your long legs draped along the couch next to mine. I didn’t go back to sleep. I just laid there, a little uncomfortable physically, but totally happy to be holding you. We didn’t know that everything was about to change.
At our doctor’s appointment that day, the specialist was adamant: We need to get this baby out now.
I was only 37 weeks pregnant. We scheduled a c-section for the next morning. I packed my bags for the hospital. I arranged for a sitter to arrive at our house before the sun came up. You went to bed that night expecting the next day to be normal. Nothing about it was normal. Our normal was gone.
Since our new baby came home, our family is so different. Dad was home for a few weeks, helping us all adjust to a new kind of normal. My arms always seem to be filled with a sweet baby. She eats often, and she likes to be held — just like you did. I move slowly, recovering from the surgery that brought her safely into this world. I can’t pick you up. I can’t drive. I don’t cook dinner right now. I sleep some during the day to make up for the sleep I am missing at night. We are not going for walks. We are not going to the park. Not yet. Everything is just weird.
When you wake up, you still get your cup of milk, but my arms are usually taken. You don’t cry or whine to be held. Instead, you climb onto the other end of the couch, already knowing that this is your place for the time being. You are a big boy now, and you don’t complain. You love your baby sister, and you want to kiss and hug her a thousand times. I allow it for the most part, but when she is sleeping soundly, I have to gently ask you to lay off on the affection. You don’t understand, and you get upset. You ask for a snack, and I ask you to please wait. Your world has been rocked, too.
You are a little more grown up already. You are already your sister’s protector. You rush to replace her pacifier when she cries. You gasp and yell “Oh no!” when she spits up. You throw wet diapers in the trash after a diaper change. You stand by the edge of the sink with me and giggle as we bathe her, enjoying her cuteness alongside me. You help me throw baby laundry into the washing machine. You climb into your own car seat, and you wait patiently for me to walk around to your side of the van and buckle you in. Suddenly, you feel so huge. Your clothes seem so huge. Your feet seem so huge. How on earth did your feet get so big, child? You are a giant by comparison.
And all of these things are good and normal and healthy. We have made this adjustment to a family of four, and we are all learning what it looks like to have two children in our home. We are unbelievably grateful to have a healthy baby to join our family. We love her so much.
We know how gracious God has been to us.
I would never want to undo what we have done in growing this family. Having this baby was a prayer-filled choice we made. We asked God to give you a sibling. I hope that you will grow up and see this sister for the blessing she is.
But, if I could rewind to that morning before she was born . . .
I would press pause on that morning on the couch. I would press my face into the top of your hair and breathe in the smell of only-child you. I would put down my phone and take that free hand and rub your back as you slept. I would sit in the quiet and plan a day filled with your favorite things: eating donuts and reading books and playing basketball. I would sit as long as I could. I would just enjoy holding you, those last moments of being my baby.
You aren’t grown yet. You are still small, and you need me. I am still the opener of fruit snacks, the pourer of milk, and the maker of lunch. You are still dependent. But you were my baby boy, the only child, and you aren’t anymore.
I miss you sometimes. I miss being able to respond to your needs immediately. I miss letting you be loud and not consider who might be sleeping in the next room. I might have these things back again, but it won’t be the same. I’ll be rocking and singing to my big boy, the big brother.
That little baby boy is gone. And I miss you already.