This blog has become a strange space for me. It started as a reflection of sorts, a way to track my time with Clara as a new mother. I wrote stories and thoughts about my daughter and then later my son, about our days and nights together. When I graduated from college right before Sammy was born, I lost the academic world as a sounding board for my writing, and lost the impetus to write complicated essays and arguments for professors and peers. So this blog became my own submission box, a place to craft a piece of writing and share it with someone else. I say all of this because here I am, 19 weeks pregnant with our third baby, and I have yet to share the fact that I’m expecting on my own personal blog. The whole thing has become full of philosophical essays and lengthy, heavily-edited stories, instead of any personal reflection. Isn’t that strange?
I just finished reading “Bringing Up Bebe,” a popular book on French parenting practices, and much of the author’s observations lie in the importance that French mothers place on their own womanhood. I often find myself swallowed up by motherhood, overtaken by the constant demands, and I am embarrassingly too short-sighted to step outside of the role as often as I should. I forget to be Jessie, not Mommy, and I stop doing what I love. Like writing. Especially on here.
I avoid writing about my kids because
1. Who cares, you know?
2. I don’t want to be a ‘mom blogger.’ Some part of me feels bigger than that, better than the connotation. The insecure part of me wants greater recognition.
3. Part of me feels protective of my kids as they get older. Clara always knows when adults are talking about her, and she hears everything. So sharing her stories on the internet and having strangers ask her questions about her life seems unfair, even at three years old. What does a writing mother owe to her children? Where is the line between my story and theirs? How do I know what to say, for the sake of my own soul, and what to hold back, for the sake of theirs?
I don’t know.
But here I am, halfway through a pregnancy with nary a word written about our new family member. So this isn’t an important essay, or a good story. It’s just a letter.
I wrote you a letter, baby, before we know your gender or your name or your face. Before we know you at all, I want you to know that you are loved. And thought about. And dreamed over. I’m writing this for me and what I need, but also for you and what I need you to know.
I have never been as sick as I have been these last 4 months. Every week I think to myself, “This must be it! Surely I cannot be sick this long, right?” And every week I’m wrong. It’s hard to be pregnant and be a parent, it really is. Sometimes Clara and Sammy just have to play around me while I lay on the floor and try not to be sick on them. But while their presence makes this harder, it also makes all of this easier. The nights are the worst with you, and last night I couldn’t drag myself off the floor of my bathroom. It was getting late as your big sister tip-toed to the doorway. She whispered while she twirled one of her curls in her fingers, a nervous habit of hers: “Mama? The baby’s making you sick again?” I nodded. She tip-toed closer and bent to touch my face. “Can you tuck me in later if you feel ok?”
Seeing her standing there, concern filling her eyes, made me ache for you. It made me long for another daughter or son, another child to gather close and learn to love. I don’t care how long it takes to feel like myself again after these 9 months. You are a treasure, and I will go to the depths for you. I will strap on my mask and oxygen tank and dive deep into the journey of bringing you home, because I know what you will mean to us. You might worry, someday, that you don’t matter to us like your siblings do. Or that maybe a third baby is an after thought, an accident- because a lot of people think that, in fact, when they find out we’re having another. “Are you guys crazy?” they ask. But you know what? I long for you. I have dreamed about you for a long time, wishing for you to exist.
Your sister taught us what love looks like. Those first born, they really get the brunt of parenting expectations and big fat mistakes; but they also get to blaze a pathway for unconditional love. Your brother taught us what the gift of a sibling looks like. He teaches us to breathe, to relax and laugh and watch as he and his sister figure out their own dynamics. You, third baby, are anticipated on a level we could not have comprehended when we were waiting for them. Now we know what it is to love a child. Now we know what it is to watch a family grow. So you get the best of all of this, the best of our three short years as parents, because we know what you mean.
We try to imagine what you’ll look like, but we have no idea. Your older sister and brother look nothing alike. They are as different as one could imagine coming from the same parents. But they have these expressions, like the way they try to hold back a smile, and the way they tilt their heads when they look through a book; it’s the same face on different bodies. And oh, their voices! Daddy and I cannot tell their voices apart, not for anything, not when they cry or when they laugh, not when they call our names or when they fight or play- their voices are indistinguishable. I’ve never heard anything like it. It makes me wonder, will your voice join their chorus? Will your syllables sync with theirs as you play together, as you learn their names and ours- will your cries echo theirs? These are the things I wonder about you, dear one. Instead of picking traits from me or your dad, I pick traits from Clara and Sam, trying to place you in one camp or another. You feel like a gift we are giving to them just as much as a gift we are giving ourselves, a new life in our family, a new life to love. The four of us are not so much a steady unit as we are a living organism, expanding and changing as we make room in our hearts for you.
Soon we will be five, baby, and you will slip into our arms like Christmas morning, like a lullaby we could never remember, like a sweet aroma we could never forget. You will be ours, and we will be yours,
and I cannot wait.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
*and so do they!