I am now the delighted mama of a baby girl, and Joy’s words, which at the time were beautiful but abstract, now make complete sense. The heart grows. The heart makes room.
Anne Therese was born on May 21, 10 days late and after a 15-hour labor, making it evident even before she entered the world that our new “little miss” was going to have her own way of doing things.
From that first night in the hospital, Anne struggled with reflux, unable to lie on her back for even short periods of time. I stayed awake both nights in the hospital holding her so she could sleep comfortably. And I spent the next eight weeks sleeping upright in a chair or on a couch with baby girl propped on top of me — the only way either of us could get any rest.
Unsurprisingly, she became a mama’s girl through and through. It’s not that she didn’t like anyone else. I’m sure, in her tiny heart of hearts, she loved her daddy, her grandparents, and her aunt and uncle. And she was more than happy to snuggle up with them — provided that she was unconscious first. If not, let me just say that everyone in the surrounding vicinity knew she was awake.
But there was one person who started being able to catch her attention enough to calm her down — a 3-foot tall human with big eyes and a blissful obliviousness of the concept of personal space. Her big brother. Joseph can silence Anne’s cries just like that — and it’s (usually) not only because he is shoving the pacifier into her mouth. Wide-eyed, she follows his little form as he runs around the house, usually chattering about some kind of lawn equipment.
And he is just as smitten. He shakes her rattle, longs to hold her and can engage in an ongoing litany of all the things they are going to do together “when Baby gets older.”
We hadn’t been sure of how our first baby would take to our second. But from the first moment he set eyes on his sister in the hospital, Joseph was wreathed in smiles and filled with delight, completely overcome with and overpowered by unexpected love. It has been a beautiful thing to witness.
It turns out that what Joy told me is true not just for parents, but for siblings, too. When a new baby comes, the heart grows. The heart makes room.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at Our Sunday Visitor.