I came into the bedroom to give Chelsea her bottle of milk. She still wakes up most nights around 1:00 to have a drink. She drank her milk and handed me her bottle, and then crawled into my lap (I had put her on my bed and sat next to her, that’s what she prefers at night). She put her head on my shoulder, wrapped her arm around me, grabbed my shirt, and went immediately back to sleep. I’m still sitting here, ten minutes later enjoying the weight of her here on my shoulder. Smelling her sweet baby smell. Kissing her sweet little face.
I realized today that she doesn’t want to snuggle unless she’s sleepy anymore. I realized that although she wants constant reassurance that I’m still here, she’s more interested in chasing Briana around these days than cuddling with mama for very long.
She’s growing and changing so quickly. And I thought I was ready this time, that I knew how fast it would go. I was wrong. It goes so much more quickly when you have two to chase after and divide your attention between. And when you’re pregnant as well, everything goes on fast forward.
I realized that in 14 short weeks, she won’t be my youngest anymore. That I will have three babies to look after and love and chase and teach and giggle with and marvel over. That I will no longer have enough hands to keep hold of everyone when I am by myself. That someone will always be left feeling as if they are being cheated of my attention.
But earlier, Chelsea fell, and I was all the way across the apartment, and she cried out that heartbreaking “I really hurt myself” cry, and before I could get to her, Briana was there.
“It’s okay Chelsea, I’ve got you. Sissy is here. Did you get an ouchie? Do you need a Bandaid? Let me help you up.”
Chelsea stopped crying and let Bri help her up. Bri kissed her forehead and held her hand and said “Let’s be careful so you don’t fall, okay?”
And my eyes welled up a little bit as Chelsea giggled and started walking along with Briana, not even looking around to see where I had gone.
And just like that, another stage passes. Just like that, they’re a second, minute, hour older. Every time you blink. Every time you glance away. Every time you sleep, wake up, and start another long and exhausting day.
Just like that they’re one step further away from you, one step closer to independence. They’re learning to lean on each other. They’re forming a friendship, and it’s the kind only siblings can have. It’s amazing and beautiful.
And it means they need me just a little less. And that’s beautiful, too. And also a little heartbreaking. And a little scary.
Some days the thought of having another baby is completely overwhelming. I feel as if I can barely handle two. My PPD is under much better control now, but there are still days that I feel like I’m drowning.
But then, on days like today, when Bri steps in and helps her sister, even with something small. When I hear her tell Chelsea not to do something so she won’t get hurt. When she sees me getting frustrated because the kids aren’t cooperating and says “I’m sorry mama. I’m ready to listen.”
On days like today, I know I will figure it out. That David will be there to help me. That David’s parents and my family and our friends will always be willing to reach out and jump in with extra hands when I need them.
On days like today, I know I will be okay. On days like today, I hold onto the fact that all my babies are still little, and still need me, but that their growing independence will be what helps us transition from a family of four to a family of five.
One step at a time. For them, and for me. For all of us.