When I was in middle school, Anne Brashares published The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I read it, and loved it, and hoped my mom never found out too much about the content. In it, four mama-friends have four daughters who are all born in September, and when the girls grow up, they are BFFs as well. They find a pair of “magical” pants that fits them all, and as they go their separate ways for summer and have adventures (many of them involve boys—please don’t have adventures with boys until you’re at least 25), the pants keep them united in spirit. I have no idea if the books will still be in print by the time you read this letter, but regardless, you have your own secret sisterhood, minus the pants. Let me tell you why.
S., D., and I knew each other from church before our pregnancies, but we bonded much more closely over the fact that our due dates were within a month of each other’s and that we were all having baby girls. We started chatting on Messenger all the time and commiserating in the back during worship about how uncomfortable our third trimester bellies made us. We prepped freezer meals together to enjoy after our babies were born. We were among the first people to know when each other went into labor, and to know when the babies were born. Most importantly, we bore one another’s burdens as sisters.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Our sisterhood has entailed a reciprocity of burden-bearing, a safe place to be our authentic selves, with the understanding that our authentic selves are sometimes not okay. Our pregnancies, labors and postpartums have all had different burdens. One of us had the anxiety of carrying a baby after a pregnancy loss. One of us was going through a family crisis. One of us temporarily needed breastmilk from the other two. One of us failed the 1-hour gestational diabetes screen. Two of us had scary 20-week ultrasounds. One of us had a forceps delivery. We’ve carried these burdens together.
The sisterhood we’ve shared has made all the difference between my first and second postpartum seasons. After your older sister was born, I was terribly lonely. I didn’t have any close friends with newborns. While most of my friends my age seemed to be off having adventures in Whoville and winning The Prestigious Fellowship of Fabulousness, I was trying to figure out how to get my baby to sleep and changing millions of cloth diapers.
This time, the burdens I carry seem much lighter because I know of at least two other women who are there for me, walking a similar path as I am right now. S. is there with her older-sisterly wisdom, as this isn’t her first time through the parenting rodeo (she is on her 7thchild, 4thbirth), and though life has thrown many challenges her way, she’s emerged tougher and yet also somehow kinder. D. is there with her indefatigable sense of humor in the face of adversity and her willingness to be a friend to everyone (she’s the quintessential extravert). And I’m there with…I’m not always sure what…but the intention to be an empathetic listener and a loyal friend.
The burdens we carry are all made worthwhile by the beauty of three exquisite little girls born in this season of our lives. I’m not sure how long all three of our families will live in Nashville. But know that out there in the world, there are two others girls, two future strong, lovely women, who are your sisters because your mamas carried the burdens of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum together.
Care for your sisters like we’ve cared for each other. I feel reassured believing they’ll be there for you, too.