When I was pregnant with our first baby, I not-so-secretly hoped for a little girl. I always imagined myself as a girl mom and the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test, I had mental flashes of ballet recitals, prom dress shopping, and making last minute adjustments to her wedding veil. I desperately wanted to be to her what my mom and the other women in my life were to me: a shining example of what it means to be a strong, confident woman.
So, when the ultrasound tech said, “It’s a girl,” my heart was full.
When I became pregnant with our second baby two years later, I had to be a bit more secretive about my longing for another girl, in order to be sensitive to my husband. (Apparently I’m a horrible actress because my husband later told me that I wasn’t fooling anyone.) We weren’t sure if this would be our last baby or not, and since we already had a girl, my husband was understandably hoping for a boy. When my midwife called to tell me that it was a girl, I could barely get through our conversation before the tears began to flow. I didn’t realize just how much I had been hoping for another girl until that very moment. But I knew it was more than the bows and the prom dresses and the ballet outfits. You see, I grew up with four sisters, one of them barely ten-months older than me, and when I think about how much these four amazing women have impacted my life, I realized I wasn’t just hoping for another daughter, I was hoping for Rory to have a sister.
If you have a sister, you know that she is the girl who can be both your worst enemy and your biggest fan, all at the same time. She knows your deepest fears, your darkest secrets, and your guiltiest pleasures.
She’s who you call after the last episode of The Bachelor or before your big job interview. She was your other half long before you met your soul mate.
Of course, growing up there were days when I hated my sisters. I hated sharing a room and sharing my clothes and constantly being compared to them, but there were also days (more than I would have liked to admit) when I couldn’t live without them. They were my first and favorite playmates, and the only ones who I knew would have my back no matter what. We covered for each other, even if it meant we all got in trouble. We were a united front at home and at school. In elementary school, my Irish twin, Whitney, and I shared a room and slept side by side in our trundle bed. Every night before going to sleep, we whispered about school and our boy crushes and the latest episode of Dawson’s Creek. I remember how excited I was to finally have my own room in middle school, but I also remember how lonely it felt to fall asleep by myself every night.
All four of my sisters have a special place in my heart. Even my two younger ones, who I used to either completely ignore, or tease mercilessly, have grown up into beautiful, strong (and much less annoying) women who I look up to, despite being the older sister. Having sisters taught me so many important life lessons. From an early age I learned how to share, negotiate, and problem solve. I learned how to make my voice heard, but also the importance of listening. I learned how to lose and how to win, how to forgive and how to apologize. But I think the most powerful lesson I learned from having sisters was empathy, because when my sisters hurt, I hurt too, and that remains true to this day, regardless of age or geographical distance.
So yes, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to double the frilly dresses and the French braids, but it’s more than that. I want my daughters to have that unbreakable, indescribable bond that only sisters can have. I can’t wait to hear them giggling at bedtime and reading stories together under the covers because there is something so comforting about knowing that your big sister is sleeping in the bed next to yours. I know this from experience. I hope that my daughters stand up for one another and bring out the best in each other, and I pray every single day that they will love each other unconditionally. I pray for this because as much as it pains me to think about, I know there will be a day when I’m no longer around, and it is during this difficult time when my daughters will understand why one day, long ago, I prayed for another girl.
PS: I also have a wonderful brother who I love fiercely, and it is because of him that I’m campaigning for a third child.