Oliver. You were our firstborn. The one who made me a mom. The one who broke all of the predictions and estimates and arrived, in dramatic fashion – after a 30 hour labor and ultimate c-section – at just shy of 11 lbs. “He’s huge!” were literally the first words our doctor said as you sucked in your first breath. And I thought you were perfect. From my first glimpse of you, tucked in your daddy’s arms, a perplexed sort of look on your face as you stared around you, blinking up at me, I knew a love so strong it overwhelmed me. I’ve loved watching you grow, well on your own growth curve as the pediatrician informed me at every appointment. From those early nursing days (when you’d eat more than I thought ANY baby could possibly pack away and STILL act hungry), to the butterball roll-and-scootch across the floor stage, to when you learned to pull up and climb and started to get into every. LAST. THING. And now? Don’t even get me started on how big you are now! Just looking at your “first day of kindergarten” pictures makes me teary. More than just your size, though, I’ve loved watching you take in the world around you. I’ve loved being there for so many of your firsts: Your first trip to the zoo. Your first steps. Your first time chewing bubble gum. Your first time going down a slide. And I’ve loved watching you learn. Seeing your pride as you “got” your colors and shapes. Your excitement over ANYTHING with numbers, your eagerness to learn your letters, and your pretend “cursive” that I find scribbled all over daddy’s dry erase board. I’ve loved seeing your faith grow; from the little boy who asked Jesus into his life at the dinner table and then immediately declared: “Amen! Can I have another pickle?” to the faith-filled almost-5 year old who explains matter-of-factly to the grocery store clerk that it’s raining because you prayed for rain, and God is helping the farmer’s food grow because you asked Him to. The boy who quickly rushes to pray for people who are sick or hurt. When we drove away from the hospital with you almost 5 years ago, I didn’t know what we had gotten ourselves into. I felt so overwhelmed by the fact that you were OURS. And, in some ways, I still am. I’m still amazed that God entrusted you to us – and I cannot imagine life without my garbage-truck loving, inquisitive, oh-so-smart little boy. And I love you to the moon and back again.
Clara. Oh how I prayed for you. How many nights I spent lying awake, praying over you even as I felt you kicking inside of me. Praying that titres would stay low and you would be safe. Praying that we wouldn’t need drastic interventions. And I remember staring into your beautiful blue eyes, taking in every tiny detail – your perfect little toes, your tiny lips. . . And letting the tears drop onto my hospital gown as I, in awe of you, thanked God for his faithfulness. For his protection on your little life. As our second, I wondered what you would be like – would you be a pretty, girly version of your brother? But, from the moment you were born, you made it clear that you were very, very different people. For as much as your brother loved his space (and his sleep), you would have snuggled ALL. NIGHT. LONG. You didn’t sleep through the night for well over a year. And, once you did, you still woke up asking for “snug-o’s” with mommy. You, with your little ringlet curls that you push out of your eyes and refuse to let me clip or brush because they’re “SOOOO pretty,” who will also go splashing through the muddiest puddle, giggling and squealing in delight. You, who begs for toe polish and makeup, and will also throw on mix-matched clothing, tackle your brother to the ground, whoop and holler and get knocked over and come back up swinging. You’re a bundle of energy, a snuggly little spitfire with a huge personality packed in someone so dainty and petite. And, I never, ever know what you’re going to say next. Where your brother asks a million questions, you make up the answers on your own and spout them off as truth – usually with facial expressions to make everyone in the room laugh out loud. You’re an absolute joy, Clara Jane. I love watching the mothering, nurturing part of you that wants to help all the babies living around us reach their toys or take their tentative steps. The part of you that empathizes so strongly with those that are hurt or sad or left out. That will give up your own toy when there aren’t enough to go around. Who wants to give (and get) bandaids for every bump and scrape. You’re sugar and spice, sweet and spunky, giggly and girly and fierce all mixed in one and I adore you.
And, to our son who is still on his way. . . Oh, how I long to meet you. To see you. To hold you in my arms instead of just feeling your constant kicking and rolling inside of me. To get to know YOUR personality, because I can bet it’s totally different too. We have just 4 weeks left until you’re on the OUTside, and I’m finding myself antsy to move things along. Get this show on the road. And it’s not just the constant heartburn and the fact that I miss coffee or being able to eat a full meal, or tie my own shoes. . . Though all of those things are true. I’ve spent sleepless nights sitting in your nursery, folding tiny little socks that your now huge brother used to wear, astonished anew that there’s another member of our family on his way. And, we’re just about ready for you. Your room is set up (mostly), your clothes and toys are all freshly washed and put away. I purchased a baby carrier in case you’re a snuggler and that’s the only way we’re able to get home school done. We have a swing and blankets and burp cloths in case you spit up a lot like your brother did. We don’t have diapers yet, but, I mean, we can pick those up on the way home from the hospital if we have to, really. I’m finding myself less overwhelmed by the idea of being responsible for another life this time around – and more so just filled with anticipation. Since the moment we knew you were on your way, our family of four has felt incomplete in a way. Like there was instantly someone missing at the dinner table. And though your kicks remind me that you’re here. . . I can’t wait for you to be in my arms. To show you to your big brother and sister. They’re going to adore you. They may feel a little jealous of you at first – when mommy’s attention gets split three ways instead of just two, but don’t you worry. You’ll love them. And they’ll love you. And I know you’ll be jumping right in on their wrestling pile with daddy before I hardly have a chance to blink. And while we eagerly await your arrival, I want you to know, God did a miracle for you. Those antigens that I had to be tested for regularly with Clara? The ones they told me would never go away? They don’t exist in my blood. Not even in trace amounts. They cannot affect you because they ARE. NOT. THERE. And so on days when you feel like the smallest of the bunch, if you ever feel insignificant, remember that the God of the universe protected you and sheltered you before you were even born. You are so incredibly loved. And we can’t wait to know you. To see your “firsts.” To watch you grow. To add another car seat to our car and another chair at our table. You’re a part of us – and we can’t wait for you to arrive.