sometimes i forget why i even started blogging. it feels i get lost in trying to keep up with taking photos and making it all pretty and wonderful. then, i get a gentle reminder of why i really started to write about our lives. it's not all just about the pretty. it is a place to share our experiences. to help someone with what they may be going through in some way, shape, or form. or even just to encourage other moms. i have loved sharing some of our intimate and funny moments, but sometimes wish it was easier to get out of my head and get more into my heart. so i will really try to be honest and raw and not lose the reason i started this thing in the first place!
this post came from a recent conversation with a friend who brought a new baby home to the big brother for the first time, i love having friends that call on me to remember what things were like those early days into it. our boy's relationship is something i am very proud of. i am not sure if it is anything we did as parents or if it is just their nature. no matter how it has happened i am really proud of the way things have panned out for us, and there are many things i am reminding myself of as we venture into this bittersweet transition of adding a sibling once more. i am sharing this because i feel i know so many people adding a sibling into their home for the first time.
bringing home a sibling is a daunting thing for any mother. i remember i literally cried for weeks before brinley was born. i was excited for our new baby to meet us, and i knew he would overjoy us and bring so much more love, but i was more-so mourning the end of an era... rowan being our only child. people can tell you all they want that you will love this new baby the same as you loved your first, your heart just grows, but you will never believe it until it actually happens and it doesn't change the fact that change is frightening to most of us. i was so sad to give up my time of having rowan to myself. i loved the many moments i could spend just smothering him with attention. i knew we wanted a bigger family, but it didn't change the fact that adding a new one was unfamiliar territory for me. i started talking to many people about my fears and, of course, they started dishing out advice. let me tell you, i am very VERY picky when it comes to taking advice and i am usually not one to care much for it - i believe in mother's instincts. but here i am sharing my advice with you...
remember not everything will go your way. rowan was (and is) a timid, cautious little boy. in the hospital this was very clear to me. you hear stories of children meeting their siblings and they can't stop smothering them and jumping with joy. i, of course, pictured this was going be the same for us. ummmm. not even close! when rowan came to the hospital he was very unsure of seeing mommy in a bed and not running to greet him. he was alarmed by all the eyes starring at him, watching his reaction. he came first to me, and wanted nothing to do with the baby. my first instinct in my head was to shove brinley in his face and say "don't you just love him!" but my heart stopped me, this was all new to us both, but especially this little boy who didn't know this strange little babe. to him brinley was a stranger, baby or not! he didn't care to hold him or even touch him. it was very unexpected, after all we had been talking about babies for months! but we never forced him to embrace his new brother. we just held brinley and rowan near each other and even read a book together without ever even asking rowan to touch his new baby brother. we did (thanks to my amazing sister's recommendations) happen have a toy for rowan that was NOT from us but solely from brinley - he was young and had no idea that brinley couldn't have stopped to pick it up at target on his way out of mommy's tummy. haha. he still talks about those baseball gloves and shin guards that were many sizes too big! "brinley, you remember you brought me those baseball gloves? the first time i met you??" haha i always smile at this little conversation! he did hold brinley for one moment in the hospital to show thanks for those gifts - then it was back to being cautious and scared, but he felt a little love from this new little stranger's gifts. i will say rowan was very sweet and loving once brinley was home, he felt more comfortable in his own familiar environment, but we still never "forced" him to hold his new baby, luckily his love for doing this came just days after brinley was home.
i do not think i am any type of expert on this subject, we are still learning and adapting throughout every stage, but i do want to share some amazing things that people instilled in me when we were about to bring brinley home. these are things i did and maybe they are right and maybe they did nothing in helping our boys grow close, but none-the-less i will be sure to do them all again this time around because our boys do happen to be great friends and look out for one another and i hope that remains forever the case.
once we got home things we took things very slow. a client gave me the most important advice i ever received about bringing a sibling home, here it is, "Tell Brinley to wait while you help Rowan, even if Brinley is sound asleep. Say it loud and purposeful so Rowan hears you. 'Brinley I am busy, hold on."" it may sound silly to tell a 3 day old to "hold on, i am helping rowan right now!" in a stern voice, but the fact that rowan could hear me say these words meant a lot to him. it meant someone else had to wait so HE could be helped. someone else had to hold on while he was the center of attention! Rowan's love languages are affirmation and time so this small task of remembering to "fake" tell brinley to hold his horses meant everything to that little boy who was in a new role. he felt his place in our family was secure! though he often had to hold on for his new baby brother's needs he definitely did it more graciously due to knowing the baby sometimes had to do the same for him! i can not tell you how important this is, i honestly feel it may be the one thing that made rowan feel he was still important and cared for.
my next advice someone gave was carrying a goody bag solely for the older sibling. you have a diaper bad and a purse, why not add one more thing to lug around! this bag is filled with snacks, dollar section toys, goodies, crayons, paper, trains, balls, etc to help pass time while mommy feeds the baby in public places. nursing is a timely task, especially when you are out, so it is only fair that there is something for your older one to do to help pass the time while waiting ever-so-patiently. i have since always carried a bag for my kids. it beats yelling at them to stop playing with things that they shouldn't, as they always have their own items along! plus, rowan's eyes always got enchanted when waiting to see what i had decided to bring for him! thank you, whoever shared this tip with me!
this is one is something we decided on our own. i am not saying it is for everyone, but we decided it was important to us! and we will be doing the same this time around, as well. we chose to say "no." when people offered to take rowan in those first weeks. we didn't want him to feel passed around, and we didn't want him to feel left out. it was definitely hard, but we had decided we were a family, he would have to learn to share us - and the sooner the better! it was more work for us, but i think it helped rowan to feel part of it all and take on his role much faster and easier. i am just saying this was the case for us, please do not think that i think less of people who take the offers of help. i am just sharing our thought process and experience. we just decided adapting to being a family of 4 would be a lot easier if we acted like one immediately. once in a while we took turns taking rowan on "dates" for alone time, but truthfully it was not often. there were moments when we could see he was crying out for one of us to focus on him, but that was about the only time we did that. again, we had decided we were a family and the sooner we all stayed together and acted like one the easier it would be. this has been very true for us to this day. we do things all 4 of us together. even grocery shop and mundane things. but it is something we have decided we wanted for our family. this was an important decision we made early on, and it is still our greatest hope is to stick together and do things as a team.
this one we decided on our own to do, as well, but we didn't want rowan to resent his brother, so we NEVER asked rowan to run our errands: hand me a wipe... go get a diaper... throw this away for me... go get a blanket... give him his toy... can you get his nuk? NEVER did we turn to him to be our errand boy. it wasn't his job to do those things for the baby, it was ours. of course, if he offered on his own to help we greatly accepted and appreciated, but only when it was on his terms. we felt this really helped with letting him grow to adore his brother and not all be bothered by the baby's needs.
this last one i am sharing is very sensitive for me, and i do not care if you judge me, because i really feel this was a huge sacrifice, but what i needed at the time... i never felt guilty for needing sleep. there are times when you are just pure exhausted! brinley had acid reflux so badly that we would be up all night with a screaming baby. literally! it was awful! i was ashamed. who can't help soothe their new baby!? i was worn out and flustered in the mornings by the time brinley had exhausted himeslf to sleep. i had to sleep! but i had a toddler! what could i do? if i didn't sleep i was worried it wouldn't be good for me or rowan. so i (many times with teary eyes) turned on the tv for 1-2 hours and slept. i was never a tv mom before we had brinley, but it was my greatest life-saver/ babysitter in those first 2 months. i look back and still hate that time in our lives, but i don't think rowan is scarred from it. but i felt i didn't have many other options. let me share though, i wouldn't sit rowan in another room or anything, i would actually put sleeping brinley in another room so it could be me and rowan's "alone time." as we snuggled, he learned about dora and mickey mouse, and i slept. other moms could definitely look down on this, but i decided it was what i needed to be a better person the rest of the day - for both of my boys and myself! and i am not thrilled that was what life was for us, but it was a short time and i truly have no idea how else i would have made it. i feel it helped me think clearly the rest of the day and really be able to give both boys full attention without being a yelling mess. say what you will, but i do not feel it is the worst thing in the world.
i am so very proud of my boys and their genuine love for one another. a huge part of parenting for us is that we pray daily for them to be friends. that they always look out for one another and that they always learn from one another. i could never have imagined 2 different people being so perfectly fit as brothers and friends. i am excited to see what God brings into the mix, and can't wait to see how my boys take on their new roles!
i know this is really long, but i just felt that we all load ourselves with worry, and you can't predict what changes will bring, but you can make a point to try things that may help the change be smooth. please do not think that i feel we did everything the right way, i am sure there were many things that we tried that failed. in the end you have to decide what you feel is right for you, when i heard advice i could usually tell instantly if it fell into my natural character and that is always what i went on... gut instinct. there is no perfect way of doing anything, and you should never feel like more/ or less of a mother for how you do things. we all have to learn our own ways and follow our hearts. that is how we all raise beautiful and unique individuals.
i just love these little boys and all the fun times they share together!