Yesterday, the girls pulled out their baby pictures, curled up with Dave and me and listened to stories about when they were born. It was such a precious experience – daddy with his girl in his lap and me with mine. And though we’re all so very excited to welcome Phoebe into our family, I felt a little sad knowing these are our last days as a family of four. I’ve enjoyed this phase of our family. Right now, I feel like I’ll miss it when Phoebe comes, but my head tells me I won’t. When Lucy was on the way, I was certain I’d mourn the loss of the just-Julia experience, but honestly, it’s hard to remember what that was even like, now. Even when I look at pre-Lucy pictures, my first thought is, “Where’s Lucy?” or “Oh, Lucy would have loved that. Too bad she wasn’t there for it.” Lucy filled an empty piece of our family puzzle – a bright and vibrant one, that somehow causes the big picture to make more sense. Phoebe will do the same. But my heart doesn’t know the things my brain does, so right now, I’m relishing my time with #1 and #2 because on Friday, it’ll be gone forever. And yes, I’m crying.

The great thing about going from two to three children, however, is that I don’t have the guilt I had going from one to two. As I carried Lucy, I worried that I was ruining Julia’s life – that I was somehow taking something from her by having another child. This time, I have the wisdom and experience of knowing that a sibling can be an incredible gift.

Recently, Lucy got sick and threw up. She was outside swinging on the playset with Dave and Julia while I was at IGA picking up some essential items, like doughnuts. Dave called as I was on the way home to tell me Lucy had puked, so I rushed the rest of the way, flew into the house and ran – RAN – up the stairs to find my sick little monkey in the bedroom, looking a little green, wrapped up in a blanket on her bed with Julia reading her a story. I knelt down and inched close, touched her forehead and asked, “How you feelin’ baby?”

She stuck out a defiant hand, “NO! No, Mama. I not want you. Julia reading to me.”

I felt a little dejected, but as Dave and I sat on Julia’s bed watching the two of them across the room, I was satisfied. Julia finished one book, pulled the blanket back up over Lucy’s shoulders, offered her a drink of water, then picked up the next book to read some more. Lucy never took her eyes off her sister and I was so pleased to know they can comfort each other, depend on each other, support each other. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they can do that – you know, like when Julia kicks Lucy in the chest or Lucy destroys Julia’s art project, but it does my heart good to know they have the ability.

Phoebe will be here in just four days. And after all my wolf-crying that she’s coming early and my desperate desire to have her RIGHT NOW, it feels like it’s coming so fast and I’m filled with conflicting emotions. When a false labor contraction hits or she pushes herself under my ribs so I can’t breathe and my hips feel like they’re going to just give way, I want Friday to GET HERE. But when Lucy is on my lap, touching my cheek and singing me a made-up song about, “My Mamaaaa is so pretttyyyyy,” or Julia climbs next to me and tells me about one of her ideas – the kind she can’t share without using her hands, because it’s just so exciting – I think Friday can wait, the minutes can stretch out a little longer. And then I have to pee for the thirty second time today and I take it all back.

Phoebe, come on girl. We’re ready for ya.