Tonight seemed like an appropriate night to talk about our little 20 month year old girl as a little big sister. It may or may not be important to note that when we found out we were pregnant with Mr. C just a couple of months after Miss M was born, I was really concerned about how she would handle it. While we saw another baby as the blessing that he is, I felt really guilty about Miss M being “ripped off” of her babyhood and concerned about how she would handle having a sibling at such a young age. I wondered if we had enough attention to give two little babies without one feeling deprived. It was easy to feel guilty since as I progressed in my pregnancy with Mr. C, my energy became more and more depleted and I struggled to do the simplest of tasks like lift Miss M in and out of her crib, load her in and out of the car, bend down to bathe her in the bathtub and go for long walks with her in the stroller. I wondered how she would handle being a big sister at such a young age. She was exactly 11 months and 3 days old when we welcomed Mr. C to the world and I must say… she has embraced him and her new role of “big sis” right from the beginning.
There’s a lot we can learn from children. They don’t worry. They don’t stress. They love life wholeheartedly. They live in the moment, not the past. They are trusting, unconditionally loving, accepting of change and completely adaptable. From the moment we brought Mr. C home from the hospital, Miss M loved him. You could see it in her eyes. She wasn’t sure what or who he was but she was definitely intrigued. I remember being so excited to see her once we were finally released from the hospital and able to go home with Mr. C. She had been staying with my parents while we were in the hospital and I couldn’t wait to have our tiny, little family together. At the same time, I was anxious because life as she knew it was about to change drastically, and since she was only 11 months old, we really couldn’t explain it to her in any way that she would understand. Sure we talked to her about becoming a big sister and read books about it but she was still a baby herself so she had absolutely no idea what was happening.
I had a vision in my head of how it would be with two babies and prepared as best as I could to make for a smooth transition for all of us. We quickly turned a spare bedroom into a new, beautiful bedroom for Miss M. I didn’t want to transition her from the nursery she knew as her own to a different room at the same time as bringing our new baby home. I didn’t want her to go through too much change at once or hold any sort of resentment towards our new baby. At the same time, I didn’t want her to feel like she got “kicked out” of her baby nursery too soon. Our nursery is perfect in every way so we had to make sure that her new room was equally beautiful, special and thoughtfully decorated. I think we succeeded. The fun part about designing her new room was that we could make it a little more girly. We didn’t find out either baby’s gender until they were born so our nursery is very gender-neutral. It has apple green walls, an Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme and a handpainted multi-coloured tree on the wall behind the crib thanks to my artist sister. I wanted her room to be girly but still be nursery-like since she was still a baby. I feared forcing her to grow up too fast. We bought another crib set and painted the walls pale green except for the wall behind the crib which we carefully painted in pink and yellow vertical stripes with big white frames showcasing our little girl’s newborn photos. It was perfect. Once her new room was decorated and her new furniture assembled, we moved the rocking chair and matching footstool from the nursery into her room. Firstly, she was familiar with it and I didn’t want her to have to give up everything from her short time in the nursery. Secondly, I wanted to allow room in the nursery for a big, rocking recliner, anticipating that when I was feeding our new baby, I would be holding Miss M as well so needed more room. Miss M moved into her new room at around 8 months of age which allowed her lots of time to adjust and me lots of time to re-organize the nursery for our new baby. Just like I wanted Miss M to have somewhere new and special, I wanted our new baby to have somewhere new and special and not look “used” in any way. Since we didn’t know the gender of our new baby, I took a 50/50 chance and washed, folded and filled the dresser with all of Miss M’s newborn sleepers and clothing figuring this would make for a 50% chance that I was all set. We ended up being blessed with a beautiful, sweet baby boy so I had to pack it all up and start fresh! Again, it was a 50/50 shot!
While we were right about creating her new room since she had lots of time to settle into and love her new space, I was so wrong about my vision of rocking two babies in the big, fluffy recliner. Being so little, she expressed herself and explored with her hands. This meant anytime she was near her newborn baby brother, she wanted to hit him. She didn’t want to hurt him…but she did o a few occasions when my tired reflexes and instincts weren’t quick enough. She would try to hit him when she was happy, curious, jealous, upset and everything in between. So, I barely ever fed newborn Mr. C in the recliner while Miss M was awake in order to prevent them from being in close proximity (the very thing I had planned to allow. How ironic!) Mr. C and I only used the recliner for late night and early morning feedings and cuddles which was pretty special anyway. It allowed us to share some special bonding time, just the two of us.
I didn’t rock both of them together in the oversized recliner until recently…which is what inspired this “Big Sister Update.”
Miss M is so gentle and so sweet with her little brother. She has the sweetest, little maternal instincts. When he cries, she stops what she is doing and scans the room looking for something of his to bring to him. Sometimes it is Sophie the Giraffe, a toy, a rattle or a blanket. She will find the closest thing belonging to him and bring it over to him and watch to see if it helped. From a very young age, when I would pat his back to burp him, she would come over to us and pat his back too like she was trying to help. Other than “mama” and “dada,” her first word was her little brother’s name. That is something extremely special.
These days, when we get up in the morning, I always get Miss M up first. There’s a reason for that. Like clockwork, the second that I lift her out of her crib and her feet touch the floor she starts excitedly calling her little brother’s name and runs down the hall towards his door. With both hands, she pushes the door open and enthusiastically exclaims “Hi!” as she runs over to his cribside. She always makes him smile. It is such a heartwarming way to start the day seeing her so happy to see him and he to see her. They share a close bond already. It is a heartwarming thing to witness each day.
Over the past couple of weeks, since Mr. C has started “crawling” (pulling his body across the floor with his arms) they have been playing so well together. They giggle. They look at books together. They pull pretend food out of the play kitchen cupboards together. They fight over toys…and for being just a young 9 months of age, Mr. C can hold his own. He will scream in anger when his sister takes a toy from him and she gets the message and gives it back. Their faces light up when they see each other throughout the day; when they wake up in the morning, when they go down for a nap, even after a diaper change and one is returned to play with the other. Miss M will squat down to Mr. C’s level, smile at him and say “Hi!” She has just recently started giving hugs and she will hug him and kiss him. She tries to high-five him but he hasn’t quite figured that one out yet. She plays “Peek-a-boo” with him and he laughs hysterically every time she reveals her face from behind her tiny hands. She loves him to pieces and he loves her the same.
They babble back and forth and giggle during meal times. I always sit Miss M in her booster seat next to Mr. C in his high chair so that I can keep an eye on both of them as they eat. At some point during every meal or snack, they will reach their arms towards each other, hold hands and laugh. Miss M will pull Mr. C’s high chair closer to her and give him her cup and food off of her tray. Over the past couple of days she has even been feeding him. She will reach up to his face with a piece of food in her grip and he will open his mouth and happily take it from her. It really is the sweetest thing.
Tonight, after Mr. C finished his bath, Miss M followed us out of the bathroom and I watched her climb up onto the recliner in his room as I diapered him and dressed him in his pajamas. She then climbed down and grabbed a book off of his book shelf and climbed back up in the chair. She knew that we would be reading him a story. As I zipped him into his sleep sack, Miss M, while sitting on the recliner started singing “Baaaaaby… Baaaaby….” over and over again. “Baby Beluga” is her favourite song to sing before bed and it has been a favourite of Mr. C’s since he was born. He is soothed by it right away, probably because of how many times he has heard it from before he was born when I would sing it to Miss M before bed while pregnant with him. I grabbed Mr. C’s bottle and turned to sit down in the recliner. Miss M scooted over to make room for us singing “Baaaaaby….Baaaaby.” I sat down beside her and we read the book she picked out while Mr. C sipped on his bottle. At one point, she noticed that Mr. C was drinking out of a bottle and said “Boob!” and tried to pull my shirt up. Mr. C has just recently weaned himself off of breastfeeding. I suppose little mama, Miss M was trying to remind me of how I normally would feed him. When Mr. C finished his bottle, I sat him up to burp him with Miss M’s tiny hands helping me pat his back while leaning forward so she could see his face and smile at him. Mr. C spit up a little bit. I reached for a receiving blanket from the basket beside us and blotted his face dry. When I finished, Miss M took it from my hands and pretended to cough then blotted her own face with the receiving blanket as if she wanted him to know it was okay.
I held both babies on my lap and rocked them back and forth singing Raffi’s “Baby Beluga” with Miss M chiming in with “Baaaabby….Baaaby” on every course, looking up at me as I finished the song to indicate she wasn’t ready for me to finish singing,. I added extra verses to the song and we sang it over and over before we both kissed Mr. C goodnight and I laid him in his crib. Miss M yelled “Bye!” as I led her out of his room and then turned around and blew him a couple of kisses unprompted.
As I poured her bath, she kept running back to his door, banging on it with both hands and calling his name over and over. I told her that she had to be quiet because he was sleeping. She held her finger up to her lips and whispered “Shhh!” then came into the bathroom to get ready for her own bath. Being the 11 months older sister, she gets to stay up approximately 11 minutes later and have her bath and bedtime story second. She definitely misses him when he goes to bed though.
It is safe to say that we had nothing to worry about when we were concerned about Miss M being “ripped off” of her babyhood. If anything, she is extremely fortunate to have another little person to love, a little person to love her back, a tiny playmate and a dinner companion. There are lots of giggles, sweet moments and cuddles in our house. Our two little ones share a special bond already and are as lucky to have each other as we are to have them. Though it is beyond crazy and stressful at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
andbabymakes3imean4 is one mom’s thoughts and adventures while tap-dancing on the brink of insanity with two babies, 11 months apart. If you liked this post, please click “Subscribe to my Blog!” or follow my page on facebook to be the first to know of future posts. Thanks for reading! xo