When each of my big girls became a big sister, I never really thought about how young they were when they were thrust into that new role. However, as each of my girls has reached the age when her older sister became a “big” sister, it has hit me how little those big sisters really were.
This happened just the other day when I realized that the triplets are now the same age that Emily was when we found out we’d be having three babies (did you follow that?). That day also happened to be Emily’s 5th birthday. I ate lunch with her at school to celebrate, and she glowed as she adjusted her birthday crown and chatted with her friend. She was so grownup. She was so happy. She was finally a whole hand—5!—and she was thrilled. After lunch, we said our goodbyes and my husband and I headed to the car.
Suddenly, I was crying. Hard.
I thought about how young Emily was when we told her we were having not one, not two, but three babies. I thought about my high-risk pregnancy, and how she patiently sat through countless doctors’ appointments with me. How she helped the ultrasound techs squeeze the warm jelly on my giant round belly at my weekly ultrasound. How she would sit tucked behind my legs and back, in a cozy little space she called “Mom’s pocket,” as I laid on the couch on bedrest, counting each day as I neared closer to viability. I thought about all the times I had said, no, wait, after the babies came home from the hospital. I thought about all the times I’d said not now, I have to change the babies. I have to feed the babies.
I wondered: had I asked too much of her and her sisters? Did I expect her to be bigger than she was? Did I miss things because I was busy with the babies? Did I miss her being a baby?
Of course, all this looking back is just that—looking back. I can’t recapture that time or go back and do things differently. I did the best I could and I continue to do so. However, reflecting on how fast my babies became big sisters does bring a few things into sharp focus for me. First, it reminds me that my girls are resilient. My big girls’ world was turned upside down with the arrival of their three preemie sisters, and they carried on as usual. That taught me that they can handle whatever curveballs life throws at them and roll with it. I think that that will serve them well in life, because, as we all know, things never really go “according to plan.” Second, I think having younger siblings has taught my girls that love multiplies with the arrival of a new baby. While I may not always have enough hands to hold everyone, I think they know that I love them all deeply. I hope that they’ve learned that as your family grows, the love does too, and there’s enough room for everyone. Third, I think that my big girls are thoughtful, empathetic people in large part because they are big sisters. They have been forced to be patient and helpful, and that’s a good thing.
All that said, I hope my big girls know that they don’t always have to be big. They need me to snuggle with them, talk with them, and hold them close. Because at the end of the day, even though they’re big sisters, they will always be my babies.
Happy birthday, sweet Emily. I love you and all your sisters.