Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Little Helper

Whether it’s your first or your fourth, the addition of a new baby can be tough on everyone in your family. After my first child, I was more than a little overwhelmed. But I eventually became adept at balancing time for showers, workouts and even the occasional glass of wine with caring for my little girl.

However, no sooner than I’d let out my first post partum exhale, we learned that number two was on the way. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a complete basket case when I saw that positive pregnancy test. I’d just gotten back to a somewhat normal sleeping schedule and a comfortable body weight. There was no way I wanted to go back to waking for late-night feedings again.

I knew my husband and I would have to make some adjustments, but I was even more worried about how my now almost two-year-old daughter would handle assuming the role of big sister. Everything I’d read said that many kids have a difficult time adjusting to sharing mom and dad with a new baby. I could potentially have to endure some serious back sliding – everything from terrible temper tantrums to a desire to nurse again. So I put off potty training, moving to a toddler bed and anything else I thought might make her think the new baby was somehow taking her place. Believe it or not, I even tried to rush my labor along to make sure baby brother was born before 7:00 am so we didn’t have to miss our regular breakfast together.

But to my surprise, my little girl has been an incredibly good sport about the whole thing. My daughter is incredibly protective of her little brother. She dotes on him constantly, never missing an opportunity to rub his head or give him a tender kiss on the cheek. When he cries, she is the first to let me know that “Baby crying,” and urges me to spring into Mommy action as quickly as possible. She watches attentively at the pediatrician’s office to make sure he doesn’t get hurt. And she’ll tell anyone who will listen that Aiden is “her baby.”

Somehow, she even manages to find a way to be there for me. She sees that the added responsibility of a newborn has taken its toll on me these past two months. She knows that sleep deprivation sometimes causes me to be less than my usual perky self, and does her best to cheer me up with a silly dance or a funny expression. And when I dropped the Eggplant Parmesan that took me over an hour to make while rocking the baby with one foot, she stroked my hair while I balled uncontrollably on the kitchen floor. I had no idea that my two-year-old would be more ready for a new baby than me. But it definitely makes her occasional meltdowns easier to deal with knowing that I’ll need her to be there for me when her brother poos on my favorite dress.

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