Three Hearts

Dear Ruby,

I woke up yesterday to the pitter patter sound of little feet running into our room. Before I was fully awake I heard: “Mama, Nora’s bed.”

Big brown eyes gazed up at me, hopeful, awaiting my answer. “Morning baby. Of course, here I come.” I rolled out of bed, took her hand and led her back to her room. We both crawled in and snuggled close. I closed my eyes again for a moment and opened them to see your sister staring at me, a wide grin across her face. She put her hand on my cheek adoringly as if to say, “I love you, thanks for being here.”

This, I thought, is what it’s all about.

Nevermind that the rest of the day was going to be filled with endless toddler negotiations, likely pee on the floor, possibly a time out, meal prep, meal refusal, testing out every public restroom we could find, lack of personal space, schlepping from activity to playdate, naptime/bathtime/potty time/teeth brushing/hair brushing/clothes wearing/shoes on battles. Nevermind the constant tornado mess that is my house.

No, this moment, is why I endure all of that with your sister. It’s what I’ve missed out on most with you.

This moment is everything.

Nora is two now and in full blown toddler mode. The phase of princesses and pink twirly dresses and opinions is here in full force. At home, she is dramatic, hilarious and full of personality. In public, she is shy, more cautious, unsure, but sweet. Watching her make sense of this big world and find her courage is such a privilege. Everyday gets easier and harder at the same time.

It’s crazy now to think I ever worried that I would love her the way I love you. There is no comparing, no replacing, no feeling torn; just unconditional, individualized love for you both. My friend Molly described it perfectly to me. She said, with each child, it’s not as if they have to share the love in your heart, more like, you grow another heart entirely. It’s a refreshing concept when day after day I’m constantly emphasizing the importance of sharing with Nora. Sometimes adults don’t want to share either, and in this case, I don’t have to.

I have my Ruby heart. I have my Nora heart and in 8 weeks, I’ll have a third heart to exclusively love your little brother.

I’m lucky to even be writing that. There was a point we didn’t think we’d be here. At 9 weeks, I was told by an ER doctor that despite your brother still having a heartbeat, I was experiencing an “inevitable miscarriage.” He sent us on our way with his condolences to let “nature take it’s course.” For four excruciating days I waited and cried, not knowing what to hope for. Do I wish for the miracle of a heartbeat at my next doctor’s visit, knowing that the outcome still looked grim? Or do I wish for peace and resolve for myself and this baby? I felt tortured by the waiting and uncertainty of it all. The cloud that hung over us in the wake of your passing was once again draping itself over our house like a thick wool blanket in summer.

Sure enough, four days later his heart was still beating and there was a glimmer of hope that all was not lost once again. I’ve spent the last five months on modified bedrest. I haven’t been allowed to lift Nora in five months. I couldn’t put her in her crib, her carseat, or highchair. I couldn’t pick her up when she fell down or put her in a swing at the park or just give her a hug because she’s my daughter and I love her. Your dad rearranged his schedule and came home every day to put Nora down for a nap. He did every bath and every bedtime. He carried every grocery bag and moved any remotely heavy thing. I stopped doing yoga, the only hour each week I ever really took for myself. We missed funerals, weddings and family reunions, fearful that travel would be too much on my body and the baby. We weren’t taking any chances.

They say in the midst of trauma, life can flash before your eyes. During those four days, potential moments lost flashed before mine. I knew when we lost you that we would be missing out on a lifetime of memories and milestones. What I couldn’t have known then that I understand now having Nora is the most treasured moments are the ones I couldn’t ever have seen coming. The way the pure sound of Nora’s belly laugh makes my heart swell, the way she nestles into my body as if she can’t ever get close enough, the way she looks at us like we are her entire world, and the pride I have felt when she conquers any small feat. These treasured moments are so fleeting and unpredictable, but sometimes they are the only things that get me through the hardest of days. These are the moments I treasure most with Nora because of you and these are the moments I feared losing most with your brother.

It’s been a long road and as we know all too well, we’re not in the clear yet, but today, your brother is growing perfectly and healthily and the threat of losing him has diminished considerably. For so long, it felt dangerous to get too close. What if he didn’t make it? Could I survive that heartbreak again? I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable enough to really digest the fact that soon your Daddy and I will have a son. I’m finally allowing myself to wonder about the color of his eyes, what he will be interested in, and the way he will view the world. I’m finally giving myself permission to envision life with two living children. The chaos, the confusion, the joy. I’m reveling the thought of Nora in the role of big sister, helping us feed him, change him, and teach him the ways of the world.

I’m finally setting aside the fear of losing and instead allowing myself to fully connect with him and relish in the excitement and thrill of being his mom. Three hearts and all.

Congratulations, big sister. Thank you for being there every step of the way.

I love you always,