When we found out we were expecting our second child, we realized that having our kids so close in age (14 months) had its benefits as well as disadvantages. Benefits included that they will grow up and be so close, we can be done with the baby stage a lot sooner, perhaps potty train at the same time, etc. The biggest disadvantage would perhaps be the busy part. During my pregnancy, everybody liked to remind me of this when they saw Sadie, and then saw my growing baby bump—from the random old woman at the mall to the grocery cashier to my friends and family. A coworker even jokingly asked if I was insane. Many people also wondered about Sadie and how she would react. I wondered too of course. But when people asked, I said that she’s so young, she’ll probably just be indifferent and may not even notice her brother. I tried to look up articles or resources about preparing your firstborn for the second child, and all of the sites and articles I found said to talk to your child about it and let them participate in all the preparation. They assumed the child was around two and would understand. When Sadie rested her head on my bump, I’d talk to her about her brother but didn’t expect much of a response or reaction.
Then, Wesley was born. My sister was able to come and stay at our house with Sadie while we were at the hospital overnight and during the day (Wesley was born at 5:30am). When my sister noticed that Sadie seemed a bit confused that her parents weren’t home, she decided to sit her down and tell her all about her brother. She took a few adorable photos of Sadie’s reaction to hearing she had a brother. Genuine excitement. And, after a rocky first encounter at the hospital… (Sadie took one look at Wesley and slapped him right in the face) …something totally unexpected happened in the next few weeks. She showed us an incredible love and admiration for her brother. In the first couple of days, she would smile and laugh and try to get as close as possible to him in my arms, poking his lips. When we would tell her to be gentle and pull her away from him as she tried to climb right on top of him in his chair, she would cry and try again and again, finally showing us after a few attempts that she was merely trying to rest her head on his little body and give him a hug. If he started crying in the living room while she was eating a meal in the kitchen, she would crane her neck in the high chair to see him, looking so anxious and concerned. I would say, “It’s Wesley… should mommy go get him?” and she would gravely nod her head.
And the best thing that I never expected is the pride she has for her brother. Sadie only says a few words with certainty so far—Momma and Dadda, and then the occasional word such as bubbles, banana, yah… up. Her third consistent word is “brother”. When I come into the room holding Wesley, she excitedly points and says, “Bah-Bahhh… Bah-Bahhh!” When I come to pick her up from daycare, Wesley in tow in the double stroller, she points and laughs and says “brother” over and over again, to other parents, to her teachers, to the kids… to anyone who’s listening. That’s her brother.
Yes, I knew I’d be busy. I knew this would be a challenge…. That I would be sleep deprived, shower deprived and me-time deprived. That the house would get messy, laundry would double, one child would cry while I held the other one, both children would cry, I would cry. But what I didn’t expect was that I would get to be witness to the inseparable bond of sibling hood, right from the beginning of the relationship… even though my daughter is only 14 months old.
I know their relationship won’t always be perfect and that there may be a few more slaps in Wesley’s future, but for now I’m going to embrace this crazy busy time and enjoy watching their love for each other grow.