In the eyes of my firstborn, our second baby was uninvited, uncalled for, and unnecessarily cramping our style big time. (Funny, that sounds a lot like my mother-in-law.) Looking back, the poor kid had every right to feel like she lost a bit of the parents who were once devoted only to her, but who were now obsessed with a scrawny being who made everyone tired and the house a total mess.
At first, she completely ignored the baby. She would literally try to sit in my lap while I was nursing, pushing the baby aside like a rejected Boppy pillow. Big sis was determined that her life was not about to change because of the arrival of this slightly jaundiced, bundle of so-called joy.
For a while, her rejection of siblinghood was a OK. Maybe I was just too sleep deprived to notice, or maybe it was that the baby slept all day for the first couple of weeks. But by week three, when the newborn realized she could cry (actually scream like a banshee), her big sister took notice and was not impressed. She walked into the kitchen while I was failing miserably with the breast pump and unleashed her grievances that went something like:
“I asked you for a puppy!
I didn’t ask you for a baby sister.
All you do is sit with the baby all the time.
You never play with me.
You are always busy.
I don’t want to play with Daddy.
I want to play with you.”
My firstborn honestly believed there was a way for us to bring the baby back to the hospital — and come home with a unicorn. Damn you parents out there who buy your kids overstuffed life-sized unicorns. Now my kid wants one! For a while, I really was afraid to leave her in the same room with the baby, in case she decided to dress (aka smother) her with princess Elsa outfits or something.
Then one day it all changed. The baby was sitting in her car seat wailing. I was running around frantic, trying to find my keys, and my eldest reached down and gave the baby her pacifier. Just like that, the baby instantly stopped crying. That was the turning point for her sister who proudly declared:
“I made her stop crying!”
From that moment, big sis and little lump were side-by-side from in the morning when they woke up until they went to sleep. Somehow big sis even managed to endure incessant crying while sharing a room with her sleep-training sibling. Yes, you can sleep train a baby in the same room as another sleeping child. Three-year-olds are capable of being dead asleep like a passed-out drunk sailor. Nothing’s going to wake them.
Today, the girls are so in love with each other they literally “miss” each other during the school day because they are in different grades. When one goes to the doctor for a needle she always asks for a second lollipop for her sister. Shoe store lady giving out stickers? “One more for my sister please.” (This could be so that they don’t have to share with the other, but I’m going to go with cute, thoughtful sibling love dammit.)
The girls are fine. I on the other hand still struggle with feelings of wanting to “return” their father or maybe just temporarily bury him in a pile of Elsa dresses, but that is another story.
Brought to you by the book, ‘Babies Ruin Everything,’ now available from Imprint, a part of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.