It’s Monday night and we’re finishing up Bella’s bedtime routine with a book and prayer. I glance at her little head bowed and her hands clasped as I hear her repeat words she’s said for months, “Please keep baby Charlotte big and strong and let her come home.”
I realize that although we’ve talked a lot on what babies do, what babies need – we haven’t talked much on how things will change for her. I wonder how much of the anxiety I see in her these past few months might stem from her own 5-year-old thoughts on what bringing home a baby means to her life of an only child.
This pregnancy hasn’t been one where I thought much about not being a family of three anymore. I did that so much with Kaden, trying to squeeze in every last bit of Bella’s fleeting 3-year-old baby-ness, the last days of motherhood with one, and our newly found freedom from diapers/pacis/not sleeping through the night. I enjoyed my time with her, knew it would be different soon, and got us ready for the crazy to come.
I just prepared for the wrong kind of crazy.
So this time around, my thoughts haven’t gone there again. I want us to get past this family of three on repeat – not because I don’t love what we have. Oh goodness, we are so tight-knit and have endured so much together. I like us. But because even with Charlotte as our surprise baby, I need this time around to be fulfilled in both family, fatherhood, sisterhood, and motherhood. I feel like we’ve redefined these so much from what we thought was normal, and I’m ready to have a little of that normal back.
So I sit on the side of her bed with her wrapped up in a blanket next to me and say, “So Bella, let’s talk about what might happen when Charlotte comes home with us.” And inside, although everything is screaming at me to stop and shut up and don’t jinx it – I keep talking. It’s like a hurricane of emotions, I don’t know how else to explain it. Like picking out diapers, wipes, and shampoo from the Target aisle and all I can think of is, “This is stupid and make sure you keep the receipt.” But I bought them anyway.
And I threw away the receipt.
Now I maneuver past those thoughts to tell her about how, for the first few weeks, a lot of my time will be spent feeding Charlotte and snuggling with them both. We talk about how babies need to wake up at night to eat and be changed, how it’ll take a little longer to get ready to go places, and how Bella can help by holding her, pushing her swing if it stops, and helping me dress her. I try to keep it simple and assuring, “It’s going to change things here, but we’ll find a new routine. Just like when we moved, or brought a new pet home – things were a little new for a while and then we figured it out.”
I kiss her goodnight and head to my room. Charlotte’s stuff is on our dresser – tiny clothes tucked in the drawers. Diapers all folded. I sit on my bed and sob. I feel so many emotions with this. It’s so hard to go from nearly 6 years with one tiny person to looking at life with two – and yet I want that more than anything.
I wonder how often we don’t give ourselves permission to feel more than one thing without guilt or shame bubbling up. I could have sat there and felt awful for feeling either of those things – yet I know I needed to feel them both. I will absolutely miss my time with just Bella. 6 years is a long time to bond with one child and have so much heartache in the midst of it. And I’m so ready to bring a baby home, to see her hold her little sister for the first, second, third time. To watch their own bond as they grow up. To see our roles all shift here in ways we’ve longed for.
I’m going to miss these days and I can’t wait for the ones that are so close again.