An Open Letter to My First, On the Eve of My Third

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As I sit here typing this, my third baby is squirming around in my belly, 38 weeks huge and threatening to come any day. My other two are sleeping in their beds and I’m spent. Days like today make me wonder aloud if I know what in the world I’m getting myself into.

When my husband and I first found out we were expecting again, I heard so much about what it’s like having a third that I was sure I’d spend her entire life apologizing to her for all the things I didn’t do like I did for my first, but the more time I’ve had to think about it, there are so many more things I need to say to my first:

Dearest First Born,

You made me mama and you make me proud every day but oh man, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I had no idea how to care for a newborn, even after the classes. I’m sorry I cut your finger with the clippers…twice. I’m sorry that nursing was so difficult and that you probably spent a lot of time hungry and frustrated while we both cried. I thought that I would feel bad for not being able to help your siblings as much as you but in reality, I’m more sorry I followed you around the house all day.  I’m sorry I did everything for you all the time.  I thought I was helping but now that your brother is doing just as much for himself as you I see that I wasn’t. Now that you’re my big girl (still only four) I’m sorry if I put too much pressure on you every day to be the good example all the time. I try not to depend on you too much but for better or worse you’re my most responsible and sweet. You’re so helpful and kind but you still deserve to be a kid.

All I can say in my own defense is I didn’t know what I was doing. Everyone says it’s natural but it didn’t feel like it to me. You are, and always will be, my first attempt, my experimental kid, my blind audition. No matter how old you get, I’ll never have been there before.  It’s always going to be new. Uncharted territory all the time. As a first born myself I’m familiar with this journey. I know the pressure involved in being the first to do everything, but always know that the special place you hold in my heart will never be taken away. There was a time it was just us, and I really didn’t know if there would ever be more.  I worried so much in part because I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to give it another go. Every moment was so precious and sometimes the weight of that was overwhelming. You changed who I am forever, and that change is what made it possible for me to jump into mamahood again…and now again.

So also; thank you. Thank you for being such a delightful baby. Thank you for learning along with me and helping me have the feeling of accomplishment I needed to keep trying. Thank you for forgiving me when I mess up and being such an amazing kid. You being you is what makes me brave for what’s to come. I see God every day in how kind and thoughtful you are, and I know He whispers to your heart for me.  And some day, if you’re up at 3:30 am trying to nurse your first and you’re weeping thinking you’ve failed her, you haven’t. You’re just learning and they are too. And I’ll be there to help. So from one first born to another, don’t doubt yourself. We can do this!

 I love you forever,

Mama

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