We are on the cusp. Each of us. The baby inside, due to be born though she is already our second daughter. H., due to become a big sister though she already hugs, talks to, feeds, and plays music for the baby. Ryan and I, due to be changed again by meeting one of our children.
The cusp is also in the air. Between winter and spring, and snow’s progress back to rain. An occasional burst of sun and stiff wind.
We take stock in these moments, ask ourselves, “What do I want to remember about life right now?”
I want to remember all of H.’s little sayings as her language fits her world together: “Hand to walk,” she insists, even if she only requires escort to the other side of the room. “I need help,” a reminder that despite how large she looms in my view, she is indeed “weaker, slower, and shorter than everyone else,” (Harvey Karp, M.D., The Happiest Toddler on the Block). “Closer me,” to be scooted up to the table. “Ruby want the paci/the bubbles/the peanut butter cracker?” and her other toddler ways of asserting what is hers.
I want to remember all that she tries to carry, around the house, out and about, and even to bedtime. These days, naps require big puppy, little puppy, her music box, her orange egg, Elmo, and one of her books. Bedtime is a revolving door for: toothbrushes, toy coffee pots, washcloths, purses, her red baseball cap, and whatever else has captured her imagination so fiercely that day she can’t bear to let go, and I can’t bear to hinder these props of her dreams.
I want to remember that she insists on wearing either her pink crocks or her purple snow boots. No exceptions.
I want to remember how relatively down pat we have things right now: a 24-hour schedule which more or less includes a decent night’s sleep for all of us, Ruby walks, a lot of play and books and music and friends and tantrums and evidence of my child’s imagination at work by what she strews across the room, my few hours to work while she sleeps, dinner as a family, our ritual snuggle before night-night. On the eve of a blessed upheaval, I want to remember that it took months and months to get here and to be patient as I get my bearings once again, to let the beautiful chaos of it all just be.
As only children, Ryan and I are in awe that H. is due to meet a living sibling—something we can give them that we didn’t ourselves have. (That is a rare feat in our privilege.) We are also aware of how this will shift our parenting. Already, we are trying not to compare them. They are each independent, as Ryan and I grew up feeling, and I want to foster that awareness as much as I want to nurture the special bond possible between sisters. I want to remember that parenthood goal.
I also want to remember that right now I feel brave. Emotionally, this pregnancy has been challenging. People see me as an active mom now, as they should, but I am also still and always a loss mom, and with that comes a certain kind of anxiety, often exasperated by “standard” prenatal care that covers the basics but doesn’t necessarily account for all we carry along with our babies.
In order to center myself I remember that right now, me and Baby P are on this journey together. We are helping each other through in ways no one else actually can. I had a dream about her the other night. Flashes, really. Sunlight streaming in over her skin so new, the crease in her chubby arms. Reaching out to bring her little curl of a body to my right shoulder, where H. used to fit. As it all gets closer, I’ve been nervous when I wake in the night, and the dream was calming. Maybe she sent it. Maybe she already knows what it’s like to be someone’s sister because Lorenzo is teaching her. Maybe Lorenzo taught H., too, and that’s why she is already so loving. Maybe, in that way, they will all teach me.