A few weeks ago, two dear friends of mine gave me a necklace as a baby gift of sorts. It's a simple silver chain with four circles, a large one to represent me and three small ones to represent my three girls: the two year old I care for every day, the baby I never got to hold, and this little one we get to meet next week.
It was a beautiful, thoughtful gift, and I cried putting it on for the first time, so grateful that my friends chose to acknowledge the lives of all three of my precious girls. I love wearing it, love running my fingers over the three tiny circles and thinking about each of my three children, about how I know and love each of them in such different ways.
As the birth of this baby draws near, I find myself reflecting often on what it means to be a mother of three, to hold my love and care for three different little ones in balance. I think of Ellie and all the changes coming her way, of the attention she will lose and the joy she will gain. I try to pour as much love as I can into her now, to let her know just how cherished and valued she is and always will be, even as the way I relate to her must change. I think of Avaleen, who would likely have been celebrating her first birthday this week and of how different our lives would be if she were here, if we had the privilege of knowing her.
And I think of this new baby, of what feels like an incredibly long road to her birth. I think of loss and doctor's visits and tests and waiting and nine months of fear and anticipation and anxiety. I think of the moment I will hear her first cry, and I pray it will be a sweet, redemptive moment, that in meeting her some of the pain of losing her sister will be healed. But I know too that she is her own person, and I pray also that we will be able to see her that way, that her life will be defined by the unique person she was made to be, not by the sister who was lost before her.
My brain is full of all these thoughts, jumbled together, unclear. I'm not sure how to hold things in balance, how to be a good mother to each of my three girls at the same time. I feel very aware of my limitations, my humanness. My emotions simmer just below the surface of my smiles, sometimes breaking into unexplainable overflows of tears.
I do not know what I am supposed to feel at a moment like this. I'm not even sure exactly what I am feeling in this moment. But I do know that God has given me three girls, that each of their lives has been a gift, that I am blessed to be their mother and to carry them as I do right now: in my arms, in my womb, and in my heart.