On raising sisters...and our newest newborn.
April 10, 2013
When I was a little girl I begged my mum so often for a little sister that she started ignoring me when I would ask. I imagined my imaginary sister would be my bestest friend, we would do each others' hair and she would take my side in all the arguments my brother and I had. It's no secret I wanted another girl. I would have been ecstatic to have a little boy too (I can't believe that doesn't go without saying but you never know with the internet) because I don't think this is our last baby but I was so happy when we found out Beatie was a girl. I get to raise sisters. I get to raise sisters who are close enough in age that they will be friends before any of that other stuff like independence and "stop copying me" happens. I spent ages wondering how Violet would take to being a big sister. Whether she would be jealous, whether she would be too rough or too curious about the soft parts like Beatie's eyes. The truth is that from the minute we said "this is Beatie" she has been amazing. She said her name straight away and never called my belly Beatie or Baby ever again. She seemed to understand without having it explained. At first she was a little scared but she quickly took to being "niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice" by stroking Beatie's head and kissing her mouth. She loves to kiss her. She loves to get right up in her face and say "hey Beatie", she loves to show me Beaties nose or ears or eyes (nos. eart. eyezzz). She loves to do this little piggy on her toes and tickle her belly. She loves to show me her fingers (ta ta) and ask me "wasssss wooooongggg?" when Beatie cries. If she rubs her head and Beatie stops crying Violet will congratulate herself with a loud "DA NIIIIIIIIIIICE" (that's nice). If there's a bottle of expressed milk within reach you can bet she's found it and is trying to feed Beatie. I'll hear "YULK! DA NICE!" from across the room and have to come running before poor old Beatie ends up being force fed. I think we've seen a little jealousy but mostly in terms of wanting attention and being prepared to get bad attention if I'm busy with Beatie. She's usually so into doing things that get her praise and loves to please people so it's definitely been trialing to see her acting out. On the other hand we've had absolutely zero jealousy in terms of "that's my mummy" (something that most of her friends have said in jealousy when their mum's have been cuddling Beatie) and on top of that I think Violet is at the age where she starts testing her boundaries and having some control over her choices. Our biggest battles at the moment are about clothing because she can't articulate what she's wearing that she doesn't like or what she'd rather be wearing instead and so a tantrum ensues. These things started when we brought Beatie home but that's not to say they weren't going to be coming up regardless. She also out of no where developed this extremely maternal thing with her dolls and toys. Before Beatie her favourite way to play with dolls or teddies was to throw them in the air and hear them smack the wood or throw them down the stairs and watch them bounce all the way down. Overnight I started finding her at the downstairs change station, a doll on the change mat (which is above her head height), newborn nappy in hand trying to blindly put the nappy on the doll. Or reaching for "tream" to put on a teddies bottom. A few days ago she started forcing me to breast feed her baby doll (and I do mean forcing me) which is ok but she also forced me to breast feed the dolly in the waiting room at Beatie's health check up which was slightly embarrassing, especially when she started should "boobies! boobies!". With absolute certainty I can say that seeing the kind of sister Violet is has made my love for her grow three times over. I can't wait for her to realise that soon enough Beatie will be able to play with her.
As for Beatie, I have to say that I'm convinced that 80% of the hardship of being a new parent the first time around is anxiety. I know we're blessed with great sleepers, Violet slept through from 2 weeks old and Beatie only wakes at 3:30am and 6am for feeds then right back to sleep. If you have non-sleepers it's a totally different ball game. But for the rest of it, all the fear, all the worry, all the "why hasn't she done ______ yet, is she ok?" is just gone. It sometimes feels like we don't have a newborn, just a happy, quiet little infant who doesn't need anything except love and the occasional feed. Breastfeeding this time around felt like that magical meant-to-be fantasy that we've all had where she latched on right away and seemed to be getting enough milk. My nipples hurt for a few days but nothing like the 6 weeks of agony I had the first time around. She seemed more settled, maybe because I was more settled. It never took me 5 minutes to make sure I had her head just right before picking her up that's for sure. I spent some time (and will probably keep spending some time in the future) feeling sad that everything was going to fast, like when she had her first bath and I thought "Oh! I didn't revel in that enough and I should have photographed it. She'll never have her first bath again!". I didn't do that first time around because I did photograph it all and I did revel but I also spent too much time looking forward, waiting for her to reach developmental milestones so that I would know I was doing a good job. I just hope that this time I don't spend too much time looking back, wishing things weren't happening so fast. (They're happening SO fast!)