What a difference a year (or three) makes. The first grandchild arrived in our family more than three years ago when my younger sister had a girl — the infamous Emery. I was a wreck. I mean a total disaster. I came up a week early (seven hours north to Arkansas) for fear I would miss her labor. I’m not sure what I thought I could offer her in a tangible way. But I knew I had to (had to) be there. I worried from the moment she told me she was pregnant. About everything. I worried more about her pregnancy than I did my own in some ways.
I didn’t miss the birth of her daughter. While my sister elected to have only her husband in the room for those last moments before the birth, I sat in the waiting room with the fullest bladder a person could possibly contain gripped with fear that if I left the room the nurse would come in and I would miss something. When they said she had a healthy baby girl and both were well I kind of lost my cool. I bawled and felt the weight for the first time of my all-consuming worry. I hadn’t even grasped the depth of it until that moment. At the time I didn’t quite understand the feeling. My best friend knew. Sitting next to me while I’m asking, “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?” she said, “You’ve been a little wound up the past nine months.” Busted.
Now, more than three years later, I found myself waiting again for my sister to give birth. It was late December, and this time I was at her house with her daughter and my son. I was on kid duty as she labored with her son — Tucker. It’s all I could do not to strap those two kids into a double carrier and roll up to the hospital. But the infamous Emery would no doubt try to get in there and serve as a midwife and ask more questions than anyone could answer with dignity about the process, and my Wilder would probably break something. Like the new baby. 
I don’t want to say I worried less. Because I’m pretty darn tight. But I think in three years I’ve learned to let go a bit. Trust God more. Trust. I’ve also spread out the worry. I once worried about Emery until I thought I would climb the walls. I got pregnant and worried about my unborn child. And now I have three kids to worry about. And maybe they aren’t mine mine. But, they all are to me. Some families grow apart. I refuse to accept it’s an inevitability. I love my sisters as fiercely as I ever did growing up. Obsessively. Completely. And I couldn’t wait for this new family member to enter the world. 
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I see now that while I spread my worry around with each new addition to the family (lessening it a bit as I age and as our family grows), the love is the thing that gets bigger. And maybe that’s something that comes with age as well. The ability to love more. To love beyond yourself. To love when you think you can’t do one more thing for the day (especially not in a voice that’s anything but a growl or a shriek). To love these incredible new people who are an extension of your sisters, but so very much their own little people. 
I spent most of the day waiting for Tucker to arrive kind of dying that I couldn’t be there for my sister. Then a dear friend who recently gave birth explained what a great feeling it was to know her older child was safe with her own sister while she was in labor. And it clicked. I imagine myself in a few years or so (I don’t know when I’m having another baby) in labor and worrying about who will care for Wilder while we are at the hospital. The thing is — my sister is far less worried about herself than she is about her daughter. She cares more that Emery is happy and safe and being doted on than she does herself. Love. It’s the thing that never changes. It takes on new faces and fresh voices. It weathers and, yet, never withers. And it grows. It grows bigger than our own hearts and then it walks around with new names. Names like Emery and Wilder and now Tucker. 
 
Amanda Bedgood is IND Monthly’s Style Editor and mother to 2-year-old Wilder. When she’s not reading Cliff’s Notes for The Strong Willed Child, she enjoys cooking, watching vintage Bubble Guppies and shopping for new hats. 

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