The days following Eze’s birth only held two emotions for me. Guilt and fear.
Love, of course, overshadowed all of it, but I’m not talking about that, right now.
With white knuckles and tears staining my face, I clung to a truth our pediatrician told me in passing.
He has six kids. Therefore I believe everything he says.
“When we had our second,” Dr. Abe told me, “My sister told me this, and now I’ll tell it to you.”
And here it is:
“The greatest gift you can ever give a child is a brother or sister.”
This has to be true, please let it be true, I remember praying, Because I totally feel like I’m breaking him right now.
Jeebs was so young (14 months old). Despite being given a baby doll to play with and getting hyped up about being a ‘big brother,’ there wasn’t much we could explain to him that he would understand. And then this little screeching alien showed up and took over.
Tantrums, night terrors, bewildered eyes, crying for Mommy, elongated nighttime routines, lack of appetite, huge, thick empathetic tears every time Eze would cry. It sure didn’t feel like a gift. It felt like a nightmare. Jeebs even looked a mess.
We all did.
Before Eze, Jeebs had a great life. He had his own schedule, his own perfect room, his own toys, his own clothes and both of our rapt attention at all times. I didn’t realize more than in passing that all that would change.
“Nobody told me how hard this is,” I’d sob, to anyone close to me who would listen. “Why didn’t anyone warn me?”
So I’m warning you now. Especially if you are an emotional faucet like me.
The first weeks, even the first month after bringing home baby number two, can be excruciatingly difficult.
Even if you have help. Especially if your first is still a baby. [But I can imagine that even if she is old enough to walk, talk, draw and talk about her feelings, it will still be tough.]
Because she’s had you all to herself for ages.
And you are bringing home a baby. One you’ve never met. One you haven’t yet bonded with. One who is a foreign ship in your known home waters.
And you might feel a whole lot of guilt about not knowing her the way you know Big baby, too. Just sayin’. It can be an all around painful guilt fest.
The good news is, it gets better. Everyone equilibrates, each of you finds a new normal. Big baby adjusts. Little baby bonds. Everyone thrives again, eventually. And Dr. Abe’s truth holds. Your family is NOT the exception to that rule. I know because I felt like we might be.
But when he’s born, and if you feel this way (and I hope you don’t, because it really isn’t fun), at least you’ll know that you aren’t the only one. At least you can know that I survived, Jeebs survived, Eze survived and you will too.
The greatest gift you can ever give your child is a brother or sister. It is. I promise. My kids are both proof of that, now. It won’t feel that way immediately, but it’s one of those long-run things that hurts at first. You don’t need to be anxious about it. Because now you are prepared.
I won’t leave you with a downer. I’ll post tomorrow with some constructive help on how to ease the transition. Like I said, you aren’t alone.