To the Girl I Loved First

They said it would be an adjustment for you, but they didn’t say I’d break your heart over and over again every single day.

Sure, it’s temporary. Your requests, at times, unreasonable. But no one’s ever told you “no” or “give me a second” or “I can’t right now” as much as you’ve heard from me and your dad over the past few weeks.

We did this for you—well, we did this for us. You were getting to an age where we started to notice your entitlement swelling as the lone little one of the household. You came home talking about your preschool friends’ siblings as if they were your own. I watched the way you hugged others’ babies close and how you started to care for your own squishy-centered baby dolls more attentively. You seemed ready, which made me feel ready.

Growing our family past you was something I wasn’t just unsure if I wanted. I was sure—I did not want it. You were enough. You were everything. Bringing you into the world took every bit of courage I never knew I had. After surviving that, I was sure I didn’t want to go through the anxiety of growing another life inside me, waking every day panicked about whether everything was going well. Another stressful labor and delivery. Nothing, no being, felt worth it.

Until it did.

Something changed as I started to pay closer attention to your development. Your manners, your kindness, the way you remembered teeny tiny details about experiences we had with you years prior. Watching you learn and love and overcome the obstacles 3-year-olds face, like making friends and cleaning up your messes. Working with you to shape your life began to shape mine.

Maybe I was doing a better job than I thought. If I could create and help mold such an incredible little being once, I grew confident that I could do it again and that I could do it well.

It pains me to say it’s been easier with her. I think I expected to enjoy the experience with you more. You and I have been through a lot by now and our relationship is better than ever. I’ve fought hard for your love as you, for years, established yourself as a “daddy’s girl,” calling only for him in the middle of the night and telling me to go away if I came to comfort you. Now it seems your heart has warmed so much more to me. We laugh about things daddy wouldn’t understand, share special moments and memories. Just as you and I really plant our roots as the mother-daughter pair I’d always hoped to be, I feel sad that you have to share me with her.

You’ve taken to it with grace, though. You are as sweet as possible to her and always asking to help me with her. You love her as deeply as anyone could love a screaming, non-verbal little sack of potatoes (as all newborns are). For that I love you even more. But there are still a few things I want you to know:

-I spent far more than 9 months loving you before you were born. From the moment I conceived you in my mind I loved you.

-There has been and will never be a greater feeling than welcoming you into the world. By the time your sister came, I knew what to expect, and though I did cry when she was born, I cried a whole lot more when you were.

-Being my “first baby” is not only a title your sister could never take from you, but a pillar of my own life. With it comes a very special bond I will never share with anyone besides you for as long as I live.

-The challenges I faced with you have made me a better mother to your sister. She has you to thank for teaching me the way.

-The most exciting part about having another baby, to me, was getting to watch you become a sister.

-Shhh, don’t tell her, but most of the time I’d rather hang out with you. Don’t get me wrong, I love snuggling her and #babysmell but babies are either needy or kind of boring, and everything you say and do brings me joy (even if it makes me mad first).

More than anything, I want you to know how irreplaceable you are.

Before she was born, I told countless people how I just don’t understand how I could love another child as much as I love you. “Your heart just grows,” they all said. I’m not so sure my heart has grown as much as it filled, and you are the cornerstone puzzle piece. Without you, my life would have never even started and for that you’ll always (secretly) be my favorite.

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(Photo by Blue Iris Photography)

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