I bought my daughter a book called, “You Were the First,” and as I read it to her, tears fell from my eyes. She didn’t seem to understand the message of this book: that she was—is—my first baby, the one who transformed me from just a person into a parent, and that soon, she will no longer be my only. At the tender age of three, this doesn’t seem to leave an imprint. But I have no doubt that when her twin sisters arrive she will feel the pains of going from my only, to one of three.
“Why are you sad, Mommy?” she asked, with sweet, genuine concern.
“These are happy and sad tears, sweetie,” I replied. “Because I am so excited for your baby sisters to be born, but I am also sad that it will no longer be just us.”
And truly, I was crying because of how much I FEEL; how much I feel for her, for me, for my husband, and for the sisters that are entering our family. Will my baby feel neglected? Will she still feel as loved—by me, her dad, her other caregivers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins—as much as she does now? Will being the older sister of twins make her feel left out?
After all, we wanted more than one child so she had a playmate and a companion to share life’s ups and downs with. We unintentionally gave her two – twins! But twins come with their own unique characteristics, such as being eternally bonded together, starting from the day of their conception. Will they allow her in to their special world? Will she feel included?
For the longest time I could not imagine loving anyone else—any other baby—as much as I love her. But I know now that I have an endless supply of forever, unabashed, unconditional love to give, and even when it overwhelms my emotions and senses, it is what keeps me happy, hopeful, connected and alive. The love I have for my child and unborn children is unlike any other love I have ever felt. It is raw and real and beautiful and true. And this is how I knew I could handle and really needed more children. I had intended on one more child, not two, but clearly, G-d had different plans. My two are a wonderful blessing; they are a gift.
But here I sit, still with tears as I think about my first, who has had us all to herself so far. I cry for her, because as much as we tell her about what is ahead, she truly cannot know or understand until the day is here that we bring home our baby girls. I cry for me, because it will never be just us again. I want so badly to bottle these moments, save them and give them to both of us as gifts to relive later, when our house and worlds are chaotic and time spent with just the two of us is a rare and special gem.
I cannot do that, but I can do this: share my words, my thoughts and feelings, with her. And so to you, my firstborn, I say:
You will always be my special child who taught me love as I’ve never known it, and what it means to be a parent. The child who, as a baby, I stared at, day in and day out, making sure you were still breathing. The child who I became neurotic about, wondering if you were sleeping enough, warm enough, gaining enough weight, hydrated enough, and so on and so forth, from the day you were born until…well…this very day.
My mother always tells me that no matter how old I am I will always be her baby, and that she will worry about me until I am elderly and gray; the same goes for you, sweet child. I will worry about you endlessly, until YOU are elderly and gray. I want things for you in a way I never wanted or want for myself. I yearn for you to feel happiness and love, yet know at the same time that you must endure struggle and challenges in order to grow resilient, flexible, capable and strong. So I suppose, though it pains me so, I want those things for you too.
Please know you will ALWAYS be my first. The one who made me a parent. The one whose smile makes my heart sing. The one whose giggle makes my heart melt. I love you, forever and always. To the moon and back.
Marissa Kristal is a writer, mom, and licensed associate marriage and family therapist. She is passionate about spreading awareness of mental health and wellness issues, as well as penning her own life’s stories in an effort to connect with others, expose our similarities, and increase acceptance of one another.