Cling Wrap

Kate never wants to be apart from me. If she had her way, I’m pretty sure she would choose one of two things: She would choose to be the baby in my belly again. Which at 32 pounds and 34 inches — hell to the no.

Or she would have us surgically attached at the hip so that I had to carry her everywhere with me.

From the second she awakes in the morning — when she hasn’t climbed in bed with me at 2 o’clock in the morning — she needs to be with me. Preferably in direct contact with some part of my body and with all my attention on her.

This makes showering and otherwise getting ready for work very, very difficult.

Flora, too, is starting to express some neediness for me. If I don’t wake her up so we can eat breakfast together, she gets incredibly sad. Even though breakfast together means that she eats Cocoa Puffs while watching Clifford and I eat on the couch, usually reading Rolling Stone. That’s good enough for her.

But Kate. Kate needs to touch me. When I am making dinner, she needs to play at my feet. When we are watching their nighttime show, she must sit as close as possible to my lap (I don’t have much of a lap, as you can imagine). She is always pulling on or pushing at me. (I should add that during the day, she seems to be fine at school or daycare. I certainly haven’t heard otherwise at this point.)

I don’t really want to be touched right now. (Yeah, I’m a joy to be married, too, as well.) I am so uncomfortable in my skin. My back hurts; my hips and pelvic area hurt. I am exhausted. And most of the time, I really, really have to pee.

Last night, Kate came downstairs at 9 p.m. (Flora had passed out already.) She climbed up on the couch with me, and she was not going to leave. (So much for that episode of NCIS.) And I was not going to threaten her to get her to go back to bed.

So we snuggled. I was getting ready to call it a night, anyway. One great thing about being exhausted: I can fall asleep pretty dang quick. I don’t STAY asleep, but those first couple of hours are blissful.

I stroked her cheek and her forehead. I told her about when she was a baby. I told her how much I loved her, and would always love her and be with her. Then I walked her up to her bed and sang her to sleep.

I worry about Kate with Bud coming. I wonder how she will be when she can’t touch me because of the baby — when I am nursing, when I am bathing him. I wonder, most, what I can do — if anything — to make this transition easier for her.

In case you’re wondering: No, I didn’t go through this with Flora. She was only 18 to 27 months old when I was pregnant with Kate. She was, from the get-go, a more independent, more adaptable child than Kate ever was. Now, after Kate came home, Flora held a little grudge; she wouldn’t let me do anything for her for about two weeks, stating emphatically when it came to dressing or reading books or anything, really: “NO! Nonna do it.” “NO. Bella do it.” “NO! Daddy do it.” (Yeah, that was heartbreaking enough.)

So, if you have any advice about transitioning an older child to the presence of a younger sibling, I sure would appreciate it. And if not, could you just assure me I’m doing okay anyway? I realize that we may all have to wait for Bud to arrive to see how this is going to go.

7 thoughts on “Cling Wrap

  1. Know what I did? I told The Boy Band that it was going to be HIS brother or sister. I involved him as much as possible. He was as much a part of this new addition as anyone else. Except, maybe, the fish.

    And when The Girl Band was born, I have pictures of The Boy Band sitting beside me in the chair in my hospital room, patting his sister on the head. Like she was his. And she was. He was 2 years and 19 days and, with help, he could hold his sister. If I had to feed her, I made darn sure that as soon as I was free for him, he got my attention. And as much as possible, I’d have him help. “She needs a new diaper. Would you grab me those wipes and hand me one?”

    He played with her. I have almost no pictures of her without him in them. And when we were finishing off the baby food for the final time, she refused to take it from me — but would eat happily if it was big brother on the other end of that spoon. (I have pictures!)

    I made him important in her world. In the family. And it paid off.

    They are older than your kids now, but they’re still close. People comment on it, on how close they are and how well they get along. How remarkable it is.

    I do a LOT wrong. But on this one, including him in her life, seems to have been the right thing. I hope it continues.

    Hang in there. You’re doing great, yourself. Believe it or not, it WILL all work out.

    • Hm. I should try involving Kate a little more now. Flora cannot wait to have a little brother — she is definitely going to be a second mother to the child, and a helper to me. Kate will be good in the role of a helper, too, though. Her attention span is more… dependable than Flora’s if that makes sense. I worry that she will not want to help because of resentment. But I am going to try to use that language, that he is HER brother.

      That is a great idea about the chair in the room. we are going to have a bed in the Bud’s room, so maybe if/when the girls want to join me for feedings, we can pile on there, or they can sit there and I’ll be in the glider. I like the idea of reading to them, too. That will definitely work. Thanks for the tips.

  2. One of my biggest worries is that my older one would resent all the time I spent nursing the younger one when he showed up. So, when we set up the nursery, I put in a kid size chair right next to my gilder rocker. I told L that when his brother came and I was nursing a lot, he could get books from his room and I would read to him while I nursed. I wanted him to feel like he got to be part of that time.

    It worked out fairly well – to the point that he started reading books TO this little brother while we were nursing.

    I would also ask him to help – fetching diapers or wipes for me. Making silly faces at his brother to make him smile. Getting a pacifier or burp cloth. He didn’t always comply with my requests but he did it often enough to feel part of things.

    I also made a huge effort to make sure that his schedule stayed the same, right from the get go. He still went to preschool on the appropriate days, he still got to go out and do things, whether with just me or with another adult. I tried to minimize how much his life was changing. It was changing so profoundly to start with, adding insult to injury seemed to be a bad idea to me.

    L is 5.5 now and J is 19 months. They play together (and yes sometimes they do nothing but push each other’s buttons) and laugh together. I was at the mall playplace just this morning and L caught J every single time he went down the slide. And J would wait until L was there waiting for him.

    It will come in time. You will find your way through it.

    • I clearly am sleep-deprived, because I left my reply to your comment (re: the chair, the reading) under the other comment. Thank you for the ideas!

      It’s funny, because sometimes I worry so much about Kate and her adjusting to Bud. Flora seems so excited at the prospect of a little brother, I think she’ll be just fine. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if Flora had adjustment issues and Kate was fine with it? Oy.

      Anyway, I appreciate the encouragement, from both of you ladies. I think I read to Flora on occasion, and when I wasn’t nursing Kate or she was napping, I really made it a point to do something fun with Flora. I’ll have to remember that this time around, also, but maybe times two.

  3. My oldest had a lot of trouble when the baby came. She was just 14 months when her first brother arrived and barely batted an eyelash, but the baby rocked her world. On the advice of a friend who’d been in a similar situation, we went with bribery. We made a sticker chart for her, and for every positive thing she did or every time she helped out, she earned a sticker. When she got five stickers, she got to choose a prize from a prize basket. Eventually, being helpful became second nature and after three weeks or so, we phased out the chart. We’d never done anything like that before, but it worked really well.

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