Sunday, March 25, 2012
Dear Almost Big Brother Owen,
Yes, it's true, you are going to be a big brother. Very soon! In about 3 weeks you will have a sibling around here crying and sleeping and eating and for you to do who knows what to it! Dad and I are so excited to add another one of you crazy kids to the mix in this house. You have brought so much joy to our lives that we can't imagine how incredibly awesome it's going to be with two of you around here.
Still, I know we have some challenges ahead. I'm not sure you exactly understand what becoming a big brother means. Oh, you are into it, this whole pregnancy thing. You went with me to one doctor's appointment early on and heard the baby's heartbeat. Ever since you race to take out the stethoscope from your doctor's kit and check the baby's heartbeat in my belly. You always want to "check baby," which means lifting my shirt to touch the crazy looking belly button I've developed. I think sometimes that you think the belly button IS the baby!
Today you were dancing around the living room with your baby doll. You have bottles for her and we talk about how babies drink bottles and big boys drink from cups. When we first took the baby swing out you were mesmerized by it for 3 days, pushing it way too fast and pressing all the buttons on it to play music. I was terrified, imagining a baby in there shortly. But a few days later you were over it. Now, your baby doll sits content in the swing, reminding all of us that a real baby is on its way to take the doll's place very soon!
We have tried to slowly do this preparing for baby thing around here, so as not to totally overwhelm you. Taking things out a little at a time, not talking about baby non-stop but also reading books about baby to familiarize you with what on earth is going on around here. It has been a very conscious effort to try to make sure you are OK with what is happening... as OK as a two-year-old who doesn't really get it yet can be I guess.
Lately you have started to react, I think. Call it Mother's Instinct, but I can tell you are "off." You had an ear infection about six weeks ago and ever since waking up in the night for that you have barely slept a solid night. You used to sleep 12 hours straight no problem, since you were an infant. Yet the last month or so you wake up at least once a night crying out for me. When I or dad get upstairs to your room you have real tears and are totally afraid and tell us "O scared..." and sometimes you tell us why (the door, the blocks, the blanket, etc.). We rock you, change your diaper, and put you back to sleep a few minutes later. You are also very sensitive lately. When we say no, you sometimes throw yourself on the floor sobbing, like you are so offended. When we are with other people who you see all the time and totally adore and I go to use the restroom, you get very anxious asking, "mama go? mama go?" You have never ever been like that.
I know all of this is normal. You are sensing the changes happening around here and of course with my growing belly. I know you will be OK through this, as you've survived every other stage in your development thus far. Still, it makes me sad.
You are my baby, afterall. You are my firstborn. There is something to be said for that, a bond like no other I imagine. I never understood why my own mother continues to this day to sometimes hug me extra tight as we're saying goodbye and rock me back and forth saying, "My baby, my baby..." She does not do this with any of my three siblings, just me. I'm her first. Now I know that's why she does this. I'll always be her baby because I was her first baby.
I drove past a mother waiting for the bus with her son the other day. The boy was probably 14 years old. The mom reached up and pushed aside his hair like I do now with my two-year-old. It was sweet. I could tell it was one of those moments of, "You are still my baby, and I still take care of you because I'm your mother."
Throughout this pregnancy the one thing that has really gotten me anxious and brought me to tears several times is the idea of how having this second baby in our lives is going to change things for you, Owen. I am so sad that I won't be home to put you to bed and wake up seeing you in your crib in the mornings for 4 days while I'm recovering from a C-section in the hospital. It kills me to imagine you crying out for me in the night and me not being there to rock you back to sleep. I know it's only four days, but even writing about this is bringing me to tears now.
We just have this special bond, you and me. I know you better than anyone. I'm the only one who can always decipher your words. Even your dad, who is the most involved father I know - giving you baths, doing bed time routine as much as I do it, feeding you and playing your funny games - does not always understand you like I do. I worry that if you do wake up in the night while I'm in the hospital and you say, "find blankie part" to whoever is staying with you, they won't understand that it means you want help finding that little tag on the edge of your silky blankie because it helps you go back to sleep.
I worry that when you are in the car driving up to the hospital to see me and you get tired and overwhelmed with sitting there too long, and you say "it it" nobody will understand that it means you want to lay your head back, suck your thumb, relax and hear me sing "itsy bitsy spider" to you to help calm you, and then continue on with our other 7 favorite songs.
We have routines, you and me. I know you will be fine out of your routine for a few days... but still it makes me sad. Since you were a little baby your dad and I have tried to be very open and include your family members all the way with holding you and babysitting and being around. We are pretty hands-off parents when with family members. We let them take over. So it's not like I'm terrified to let others help us out. It's just that I feel so guilty that I won't be there for you when you are experiencing something that is anxiety-provoking.
I think it makes it worse for me to imagine because the changes extend past the first 4 days in the hospital. Because I'm having another C-section I know my limitations physically. I will not be able to pick you up in the crib or car seat for a long while. I'm supposed to not pick you up 8 weeks... I have no idea how I can do that. And yet I don't know how I can pick you up either, even if I wanted to. This is major surgery, I remember how painful it was and how long it took me to recover. I think knowing the long recovery just makes me worry more that you'll see things are changed.
I told a friend at work about how I feel and she said it's totally normal for me to feel this way and that you are also going to have a tough time, which is very normal. Yet, she said, "You have to remind yourself that you are giving your son the best gift you could ever give him, a sibling." It's true. I know this is true. I am the oldest of four, your dad is the youngest of four. We always planned on having several kids because of this one reason - siblings are incredible. They are your best friends. I know that's how will be when you grow up with this new baby following you around.
So, Owen, I just want you to know that despite all the changes we are about to experience in our little growing family, I love you to the moon and back, and that will never change. You will always be my baby.
I know you are going to be a great big brother. It will be hard and totally weird at first. But I know you are going to be super cool. You have developed this cute baby voice lately. Dad says it's a voice I use sometimes. You use it for your baby doll or animals or cute things like that, and when you're saying "Sorry mama" after getting into trouble. It makes me realize that as little as you are, you know what it'll take to be a good big brother.
Love you, pal. Let's just stick with each other through this next crazy part of our life. Dad will do his best to keep us both on track anyway, I know. We have nothing to worry about.
P.S. Don't worry, I'm writing a list of all your favorite foods and the words to our favorite bed time songs so whoever is helping out when I'm not able to will know just how we like things done!