We haven’t officially met but I know you better than anyone, and my voice is surely a comfort to you these days.
I do not know whether you will be my first son or my third daughter, whether you will have brown eyes like me or blue like your father’s, and I am not even sure what your name will be yet. But I know that I love you, my unborn child.
My belly is growing larger by the day – I am almost 34 weeks – and lately, it has been hard to catch my breath because of all this extra pressure against my lungs. My back aches, constantly, and when you move your head it hurts me but I promise you I don’t mind enough to be upset with about it. At this point, we have about 8 weeks until we meet… So the symptoms I feel now will likely increase until you are born.
I am doing everything I can to take care of myself so that you have the healthiest stay possible but these days I crave cheeseburgers, so I apologize for that – I try and throw in extra salad and fruit so you get all the nutrients you need, but sometimes, Mama just needs a cheeseburger! I blame this on you!
You have two older sisters whom are dying to meet you. They’re both convinced you’re a girl but we talk all the time about it, and I think we are all okay either way. Layla is six now, and Jemma is 3 – I think they’re going to be amazing big sisters for you, don’t you worry. We talk about them sharing their toys with you, and that Mama will need to spend some extra time with you when you are born, and I think they won’t be jealous of that – this is my hope for all our sakes.
You will love Layla because she is eager to take care of you. She’s been practicing putting a diaper on one of her stuffed animals, and she gets it dressed and talks about how she can’t wait to do this for you. I am sure she will smother you with kisses.
Jemma is still little, but I think she is ready for you – as much as she can be. She always kisses you through my belly – every single day. And she says she loves you. It really is the sweetest thing.
Your daddy is eager to meet you, also. He has been practicing with me what it will be like to go into labor – when we have you – and he is trying his best to take care of me. He says he can’t wait to meet you; you’re his first child, so this is a big deal for him! I really can’t wait to see him hold you for the first time and I promise you, he is going to cry!
Really, I think we all will because we are so excited to meet you.
I am preparing as much as I can to bring you into this world as safely and welcoming as possible. You will be born into my arms right here in our home, at least that is what we are planning for. Please know that I don’t mind that it will hurt, and I hope you tolerate your journey – this is something we have to do together, you and me – it is just us, really. So, try and believe me when I say I will do my best to keep you safe but I know the rest is up to God. He’s the one that gave you to us, and I pray He lets you come into this world in a peaceful, loving way. I am trying my best to prepare emotionally and physically for this because I love you and want to stay connected to you as much as possible until you’re in my arms.
I pray every day, well all the time it seems, that you are healthy and happy when we meet. That there aren’t any complications and that you breathe like you’ll need to when you first experience this world. It’ll be a challenge, I know little baby, but Mama knows you can do it!
The whole house is empty right now except for me. Your daddy is away for work, and your sisters went to spend some time with their dad, too, so it just me and you now. The house is quiet and I am laying in bed on my left side – this is not comfortable for me but it’s the best position for you so I will do it anyway. I can feel you kick and roll around every now and then, and I find great comfort in your movements these days. I wait for you every morning to move, and then throughout the day you probably feel me poking you – that’s just Mama checking to make sure you’re doing all right! So far, you have done very well, and I am so proud of how big you are growing – you’re getting bigger each day!
When the house is quiet like this, and it is just you and me, I miss the noise of your family around me. I miss having your sisters here to laugh with them and play our games, and I miss your dad here to rub my back when I need it – cause it seems I need it all the time these days. I have been sad today because I have felt very alone, and I don’t like when I have to say goodbye to your sisters… But, when it is just us, you and me, I kind of cherish that we don’t have distractions, and I can just sit here and dream of you. Thank God for you. Pray for you. You have made today a little easier, so thank you for that.
No matter what happens in your life, from here on out, I hope you know that you are wanted and so loved. I loved you before I even met you. I am sure, if you could tell me, you’d say the same. My sweet baby. . . I can’t wait to meet you.
Every person experiences it when the second arrives. It happens in an instant. Everything anyone ever told you before that moment will just not do it justice to when you feel it – truly experience it – for yourself: When we became parents, we finally, absolutely understood about unconditional love. The blossoming of a soul happens in the blink of an eye, from one final push to the first breathe of a brand new life; we change from merely grown-up children into parents – we see life in an entirely different light. The light of our children.
When it happened for me, nearly five years ago now, I was 24. Many people whispered about the joys of parenthood, and the challenges that would accompany them. From those conversations, I recognized it would surely be love, but quite honestly, nobody is ever prepared… The love overtakes you. It truly does.
Now, I am edging closer to 30 than I would like, and Layla has a sister in the throes of the wonderful, dreaded two’s, and together, they hold my heart in their small effectual mouths – Jemma screams because she wants more candy, and big sissy tattles on her, as if I did not know what drama was unfolding already she feels it her duty to inform the authorities. I am mother; Jury, Judge, and Pardoner. I am the see’er of see’ers, the do’er of do’ers, and the final axe to the grindstone. Reverse the rolls, however, and who are my children to me? My greatest reward, the most tenacious challenge, and the purest example of God I have ever known…
I am, in all ways, entirely, and absolutely in love with my children – I never knew love could be so deep…
Which inevitably speaks to the reality that my daughters, my precious, tiny baby girls – well, they’re growing. Where once I held a wee-one whom relied on my every move to sustain and keep her safe, now replaced by two opinionated, loud, and reliant beings.
I loved them both, wholly and without fear, the moment they were born – one January 19th and the other August 27th – on those days, I celebrated life, and the motherly pursuit of infant bliss wrapped safely in my arms.
Now, they are heaping sacks of burning coals; they keep me warm and motivate me to move, but sometimes, I am so burnt out it does not make sense that tomorrow, I will have to get up and start the same day all over again. Now, they are not babies anymore – I am both reverently nostalgic about this and at the same time overjoyed that we enter into new stages of development constantly.
Layla understands multiple languages. We can speak to her in Arabic, French, Spanish, and English – she translates words when I do not understand what she says, and she is teaching me things I am not familiar with. She can write the entire alphabet, and all her numbers, and she understands complex emotional problem-solving situations, expressing herself articulately and with little frustration when an idea is new or foreign. She speaks eloquently, uses cordial language, and knows about respect and honesty. She loves to dance and sing, play dress up, and dig in the dirt. She loves to look through books and hear stories… And she loves to cuddle her family. She is FOUR.
Jemma is hilarious, a total cheeseball. Her comprehension of language is vast, and she can speak more articulately than most children her age. Her ability to pick up and carry a tune, after hearing a song a handful of times, astounds all those whom hear her do it. She loves people but especially her closest family, and when she spies someone she loves, she always comes running with a big, gap-toothed grin. She can sing songs in French as if she was singing the plain old Itsy Bitsy Spider in English – in fact, today in the drug store, she sang “Frère Jacques” to a complete stranger whom just so happened to BE a French woman – and almost made the woman cry she was so impressed! She is TWO.
I am not certain where the time has gone. I really do not comprehend it myself and I am the one who has lived the past four years as their mother.
We have lived a hell of a lot of life together – these girls and me. I can go back through pictures in my mind and remember when I told two different men that I was pregnant, and I can remember the day both chose to walk away. I remember becoming a single mother once, then twice, and the heartache Layla endured because Jemma’s father was so demanding and hard on her. I can think of the cries my second daughter had when daddy wasn’t there anymore – she was only 6 months old, she could not have understood. The joy and heartbreak I have known with these children in-tow, I believe, is what has made my love for them more fierce and true than anything else I have known.
I choke back tears now when I think of the sheer fabrication of it all – how it created the kind of mother I have become – and why most of the time I allow my children to act as they please because I feel I owe them at least their individual freedoms… But there is no sense in regretting any time spent and gone; I did the best I could, but at least I know that time, loving them throughout the struggles, has made me realize why our bond means so much to me. Still, though, it feels rather crazy – how fast the time has gone – and how true it is that one cannot stop nor slow it down…
One of the common threads that always accompanies the inevitable phrase, “you have no idea how much you will love your child…” is this, “… But just wait – it goes so fast – do not blink!”
I can remember holding both of my children for that first moment of their lives. I recall staring down at this pink-skinned, squinty-eyed newborn baby and falling into a consuming love. It was like nothing I had ever known. I have been fortunate enough to experience this twice.
As I sit and remember that, for both Layla and Jemma, I almost tear up at how much has already changed. But, it is for the best – I have to remember that – because growth, and change, are really the only things we can earnestly count on in this life. They have to grow. If they stopped, that means death. I would never dream or want anything, then, but their continued maturity.
But I am slightly feeling bittersweet at the pace of it all.
One day I found out I was pregnant and then, poof! Five years later, here they are – these little people who like Dinosaur Train and Super Why on PBS. They love yogurt and cheese and ice cubes. They prefer to shack up in my bed than sleep with each other in their own room. They fight but then hold hands. They scream at me for reprimanding them but then chase after me to cuddle. They can enrage me sometimes too easily when my patience meets its end, but then, I feel immediately remorseful and crave closeness to get us back to what feels optimal: Love.
Relationships take work – it does not matter with whom. They ALL do.
But, with children, it just feels so worth it to give them all of me. It feels so natural – almost as if I was born to do it. And no, I do not mean merely in the biological sense because I have a vagina, but in the belief that Layla SaMaya Roberta and Jemma Anne Ileen were meant to be my daughters. That they were placed with me on this earth so we could teach each other about life.
They remind me to slow down, but to be honest, I do not do it enough. I cannot even recall the last time I wrote something purely about parenting or simply about/for my children. Life gets in the way so often. Priorities change – plans change. A year ago I would never have guessed I’d be in this beautiful home with a wonderful man and my daughters all together. I never imagined I would be here…
My girls were once my babies. I was told I would love them, but man, do we ever under sell THAT experience!
To love them is like breathing. Absolutely essential. That is what it feels like; I could not ever imagine life without them in it, and I do not want to try.
As they grow, I will only love them deeper – we encounter challenges together, we laugh, and we cry. They will watch the lines around my eyes deepen and my hair change color, as i too watch them grow to one day soon become women, and someday, I pray I get to tell them how much they will love their own children. I will hold the memories of having my precious tiny newborn daughters in my arms, as I watch them give birth to their own tiny miracles. Then, and only then, on that special day, will they ever know how much they mean to me. How much I love them… Nothing I would or could have said will do it up until then. Unconditional love is not explained, it’s born.
- Babies! (timothymessenger.com)
- How Many Is Too Many? Michelle Duggar Says She’s Trying for Baby Number 20! (thebump.com)