Girlie – never in your seven years have you asked for a sibling.
“I don’t want a brother or sister! Only to clean up my playroom.”
You state this like it’s a fact. Like you know the pros and cons of sharing your DNA with another human, smaller and younger than you, but still your closest genetic match. We check in often, making sure you’re OK with our little “triangle family,” that you know we love you, that we cherish every second with you. You never once wanted a brother or sister to dim your light or share your toys.
Today was the first day I’ve ever heard you say you wanted a brother.
“I’m lonely,” you tell me, eyes burning holes into my heart with every word that comes out of your mouth.
Those two words, the ones we’ve tried to make sure you never feel through playdates, friends, family, Mama, and Daddy quality time, pretty much ripped my soul in two this morning.
The problem is that you know, and have always known about the five siblings you’ve lost. We didn’t want you to feel different from all your other friends (all from sibling sets), but we also wanted you to know that babies didn’t come easy for us and that you were so, SO wanted and cherished. We wanted you to know that we would have given you a whole herd of DNA-sharing buddies to run around and destroy the house with. Instead of that reality though, there’s only you.
We call our dog, Kane, your “fuzzy brother,” and you proudly tell everyone who asks that you have him. You two get up to all sorts of trouble together. He’s rescued you from a river, you’ve opened the fridge door as a toddler to let him feast. You dress him up, love on him, try and get him to share your toys and treats (not a hard feat), and he’s the only living thing that’s been consistent in your life, there every day, since you were born.
But he’s not a real sibling.
While my heart has been slowly repairing itself since we stopped trying to conceive last year, yours hasn’t. You didn’t like babies and toddlers for the longest time, until a little girl was born to one of your favourite people and you fell in love.
“Hannah can be my sister! She just lives in another house!” You would smile, and we would too, thinking that this would work.
You loved having her over, to “play big sister” from time to time. And you begged for sleepovers with this pint-sized little nugget, loving that she had a “triangle family” as we did. But… she had a brother in the last few months, and you’ve fallen in love with him too. You’ve held him and gazed into his gummy grin, giggling when he squirmed in your arms. For the first time, I think you realized what’s been missing around our house.
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I haven’t stopped to think about how all this has affected you.
I always assumed that you were content in our little triangle life, checking in often to make sure. And I think you were, and are for the most part, totally happy. But there is something that you can’t put your finger on, can’t quite grasp about others, and it’s the sibling bond.
Sweetie, you have no idea how long we wished and prayed for a “built-in-buddy” for you. No idea. You have no way of knowing how many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep, missing all those little ones. I have pain that will never entirely go away, or get better. But so do you. And I need to remember that.
When you asked me this morning for a brother, I fumbled for words, not expecting what I should have been: you want someone to share the kid-experiences of having us as parents. To reminisce, long years from now, about how you two made forts and read books together. How you taught him to ride a scooter, how you both fell asleep giggling under the blankets in a tent in the rain.
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I would give anything for you to have that experience.
The experience of watching my belly swell, of being at the birth, and helping Daddy cut the cord. Of having you help me give baths, change diapers, and put on tiny clothing. Letting you show the world to this new little human, in the way that only you can. I’m not naïve; I know that having a sibling doesn’t guarantee you’ll be besties or even friends. You might hate each other, and instead of being Mama, I’ll turn into Referee. But the mere fact that you have a sibling would ensure that you were not the only one with memories of you when you were little when Daddy and I are gone.
So Girlie, I’m sorry that life doesn’t always go as we plan for it. I’m sorry that sometimes we miss out on good things. But the one thing I’ll never be sorry for is that out of all the pregnancies I’ve had, you were the one who fought so hard to stay with us.
Thanks for making me a Mama, sweetie. I’m sorry I can’t make you a sister.
Feature Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash