Bella Rose Fact: I have a BIG family. I am the oldest of nine children—six sisters and two brothers—we range in age from 28-13. We are very close, and if you cross one of us you cross us all. Seriously, we will argue with our parents defending one another. Being the oldest sibling sometimes felt like how I imagined being a parent feels. One of my sisters has insisted on calling me every Mother’s Day, since I moved out, even though I keep reminding her that I’m not a mom. Needless to say, I’ve always felt it was my job to be there for them. And it was… it still is… but now I’m pregnant and two of my sisters have already experienced this and are currently raising 2 of the most amazing toddlers I know. Today’s post is dedicated to the younger of the two.
Almost two years ago, my then 18-year-old sister called to tell me that she was expecting her first child. Out of our seven other siblings and parents, I was the last to know. I remember her saying that she was afraid to tell me, because she thought I would be in disappointed in her. Disappointed? Umm no. More like scared for her. She was 18 and had just started her second semester of college. I kept imagining myself at her age and in her position. My family is very religious, so whether or not she would keep the baby wasn’t even a topic of discussion. I thought about mentioning adoption to her, but refrained, because I knew that she was in for a long road, and there was no point in me making it any longer or harder for her. Instead I decided to just be quiet, listen, and be there for her. After all that’s what big sisters are supposed to do.
So, I decided to call/text to check on her regularly. I read random pregnancy/baby information and shared it with her. I encouraged her to breastfeed even though I had no children and had never been pregnant. And she listened because that’s what little sisters do. She sent me papers to edit and look over for her, since she had decided to take online classes while waiting for the baby’s arrival. I flew home for her baby shower, even though I could only stay for 48 hours; and I helped put together my first pack n’ play because I wanted to feel useful. Sadly, her due date fell during the end of the semester for me, and I did not meet my nephew until he was about three weeks old. Imagine my shock when my younger sister, whose diapers I changed by the way, was nervous about leaving me alone with him. It was in that moment that I realized she had become a mother. She was still my little sister, but she was also a mom.
Fast-forward two years and she’s currently balancing a 14 month old, a part-time job, college courses, and she’s not even 21 yet. She is blessed with a great support system—shout out to our parents and siblings, but she’s still doing more than I could have ever imagined at her age.
Now that I’m the one going through pregnancy and juggling multiple things, guess who has been my sounding board? My little sister. She calls just to check on me. If I have a meltdown on twitter, I can almost guarantee that my phone will go off as soon as she sees it. When my hormones have caused arguments/disagreements with our other siblings, Ash is right there to help bring us all together again. When I’m cranky and mad at my husband for no good reason, she always lets me vent and then tells me to be nice to him. I never imagined that I would call my younger sister to ask why my stomach is cramping? Why my boobs are so heavy? Or if it’s okay for me to take cough syrup in the 3rd trimester, because the doctor’s office is closed and I’m really sick. She reminds me that there are no perfect moms and that I can do this—she reminds me that it is okay to be vulnerable. I could not imagine going through this pregnancy without her support, and I’m just sad that she won’t be here when I go into labor; but there’s always Skype.
Moral of the Story: Support during pregnancy will come from the least expected places. When one support system falls apart, another one is right around the corner.