To My Middle Child



Don’t worry, I see you there.

Craning your neck to see what your big brother is doing, while I kick my swollen feet onto the ottoman. I hear you squeal–with glee, frustration, hunger–and realize that by the time your brother was this age, he had mastered three baby signs. I hear you talk to yourself in your crib in the morning while I weigh my options: 15 more sweet minutes of lying there in a position it took hours to get comfortable in, or go get you for 15 minutes oh-so-rare just you and me time.

And I think about how even while I was pregnant with you, I lamented that you wouldn’t get the same consideration as your brother. I freely ate, well, whatever I wanted. I drank more coffee, I lifted heavier things. The funny thing was I was so afraid of your brother not getting enough time to be a baby, that I didn’t really think about your time as a baby.

And now, for the duration of your baby-hood, I’ve been pregnant again. And again the same rules apply for this little sister of yours. I’m eating whatever I want, I’m drinking coffee, I’m lifting both you and your brother, and bending in uncomfortable ways. But where I made a point to make sure your brother continued to get attention after you were born, I wonder how I’m going to balance you. You are still just a baby, and now you’re going to have to be a big sister. Born the middle child of 3 very close-together babies, you will never have been the baby on your own. I worry you’ll never have gotten the attention you very much deserve.

You are so laid back. You go with the flow, you can entertain yourself, you put yourself to sleep, you feed yourself, and you seem to be content just watching everything around you. I wonder if that’s because your brother is walking and talking and demanding what he wants–and you, with your sweet little squeals, don’t have that agency yet, so you’re sort of forced to be laid back, observant, and curious. With this new baby, I wonder if it’ll be the same way. You may be walking, you may be making some signs or words, but again there will be someone there demanding more attention in ways that you won’t need it.

I have dreams about you. You go missing, and nobody notices except me. When I panic because I can’t find you, I start asking people–anyone–if they’ve seen you, and everyone tells me you’ll be fine. “Oh, she’s fine,” is what they say. And then when I finally find you, you’re doing something I had no idea  you could do, like climbing a ladder or going down a slide, or you’ve morphed into an entirely new person. And I wonder when you learned it, or when you grew, and how did I miss it? I know these dreams are symbolic of my worry for you: I don’t want you to get lost in this family. I want you to know you have a very important place here. You are an essential piece to this family puzzle.

So, my Ivy girl, my baby–in a couple of months our world is going to change all over again. I just want you to know, I see you there. I don’t always have the energy to pick you up, or sing you a song, or read you a story, but I will. I promise we will do things, just me and you: hikes and shopping and restaurants. And your dad will take you on dates, just the two of you.

Until then, know that you aren’t the second act, sandwiched between the first and the final. You are your own show.

And we see you, there. I promise. You won’t get lost here.