Before You Meet Your Brother

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Before another month passes, you will be a big brother to a little boy. These last weeks have been so sweet. Our days at home have seemed special, even when they are filled with chores and tasks. We’ve taken frequent trips to the children’s museum and have stopped by the toy store at your request on several outings

Every moment out with you—even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store—I try to savor. I know we will again have Liam and Mama outings, but they won’t make up a huge part of our lives as they do now. I am easily convinced to buy you little treats to make every errand special. We sip homemade hot chocolate many mornings, and I rarely refuse to sit down and play with you.

And yet.

I miss being the mom I used to be. Until this pregnancy, I felt like we had a rhythm and an easygoing relationship. Then one thing after another threw us off, first morning sickness and then just the general tiredness. Your difficult toddlerhood coincided with my exhaustion, and I missed being the relatively patient, in-control mom I felt that I had been up to that point. It’s hard to figure out how to balance you, this pregnancy, and myself.

I feel guilty when I get snappy or exhausted or simply too tired to carry you. I think you sense this because your worst tantrums escalate when I refuse to carry you around when you are fussy. Suddenly you want me more than you want anyone else.

And I can’t explain to you how torn this makes me feel because of these conflicting feelings: I want to pick you up, I’m terrified that I should encourage more independence for you before Baby comes, and sometimes, I just don’t want to carry you around because of how big and achy I feel.

I loved our nursing relationship and would have continued it, but the discomfort meant I finally had to wean you last month. When you ask for “Mama’s milk” occasionally I want to say, “Yes, of course!” but instead I usually distract you. That part of our relationship is over, which has made me nostalgic for your own baby days—the frantic gulping, the milk-drunk sleep, the navy blue eyes staring out.

I don’t think you will remember any of this time. In one sense, this makes me so sad. I hate to think you won’t know a time when it was just you and me or you, me and Daddy. But I have to remind myself what you will gain. You will never know a time before you were a brother. And as a big sister myself, I know that this is a wonderful thing.

I’ve long called you my favorite. Now you can’t be our favorite anymore because there will be another.

But this new adventure will be even more fun, and we can’t wait to start it with you.

We’ve spent a lot of time in the doctor’s office, and you love the toys in the waiting room. On Daddy’s days off, we go together and stop at Chick-fil-A for breakfast before my appointment. Then you and Daddy stay in the waiting room while I go to “check on baby” as you say.

Usually if you rouse in the night now, you fall right back asleep. But often you call me and want me to cuddle you beside me. You only fall asleep if my arm is under your head and I listen to your little heartbeat outside of me, marveling that your heart, too, was once beating within. I have to find a way to get comfortable enough to hold you while dealing with contractions and constant movement in my belly. And sometimes I just long for it to be easy again.

These last days have been filled with aunts and uncles and grandparents and days that are a whirlwind of crazy fun. We’ve bought and wrapped Christmas gifts and we’ve celebrated our last Christmas with just three stockings. Our days at home as just the two of us are numbered or may have already passed.

But I want you to know how much I’ve loved every minute and how sure I am that the best is yet to come. I know that you don’t ultimately know what is going to happen—your first nights away from us, having to share our attention, time, and energy. But I do know that you can handle it and that you and the new baby can be lifelong friends. And I look forward to seeing a new side of you, just as you will see new aspects of me and Daddy.

I can’t wait to see you be a big brother and show the baby your favorite toys. I love watching you wander in Target, considering clothes for the baby (even though you finally decide that every item “probly will not fit”). You felt the baby kick a few nights ago while you were curled up against me and said, “That baby bout to come out.” You get so excited about the prospect of giving the baby baths, and you tell me how you will teach the baby to walk and talk and eat all sorts of foods.

Right before I finished this post, your aunt was reading a book to you about being a big brother. You rushed in to where I was sitting and asked with a grin, “When that baby gonna come?”

People tell me I will have my hands full. I’m sure it will be busy. I’m sure there will be adjusting and probably some tears. But I’m thrilled to welcome this next little boy into our family and continue this great adventure that started with us and then you.

And though you probably won’t remember these two and a half years, I want you to know that we have loved, loved, loved them. I hope that you are always filled with warm, sweet impressions of your time as an only child even as you leave this time behind for something more wonderful.

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