Posted in Blog, Family life, Featured, Just for you, Life as a mom, Shawna

Staying Close

When I found out I was having another baby, my thoughts immediately turned to my first daughter: Would I be able to give her all of the love I had before? Would we still be as close as we were? Would she still feel like she was the center of my world? Would she be OK?

Well, here I am 10 months later, with a six-week-old and an I-can’t-believe-she-just-turned-two-year-old, and so far the answers to my questions are usually, no, no and I think so.

When Ruby was born, my love for Quinn certainly didn’t diminish, but boy did it change. A lot more than I thought it would. Sometimes that makes me sad, but mostly I think it’s a good thing.

The biggest change happened immediately, when Quinn came woke up in the morning of June 3 and came into our bedroom to meet her baby sister just a few hours after she was born (one big benefit of a homebirth!). She saddled up alongside her on the bed and gently laid her hand over Ruby’s. My first thought was how sweet and beautiful the moment was; my second was how huge Quinn’s hand was next to my precious little newborn’s.

I guess it took seeing a tiny baby for me to realize that Quinn really wasn’t one anymore. I think that’s something a mom really needs to see in order to really love and protect her newborn, but it sure was a sea change for me, who still called my daughter baby, still rocked her to sleep for every nap and bedtime, still carried her everywhere even when I was nine months pregnant.

I still do those things, actually, though it is a lot harder to make it all work. Sometimes Quinn has to sit in her crib for a few minutes before I can rock her, or she has to share my lap with a nursing newborn. She still gets to go to the park, the zoo, and to Gymboree, but she has to wait a lot longer before we leave. I still carry her, but her baby sister is always in the other arm, and she always gets put down first. She knows she is not the center of my world any more, that she’s sharing it with this new person who definitely gets top billing in terms of need. But she also knows how much I love her. That I will always make room for her on my lap, that I will hold her tight when she needs me. That I will still rock her to sleep even though I’m exhausted from caring for a newborn.

The first few weeks were definitely the hardest. My hubby took the first week off work and my mom came and helped every day, and both of their jobs were lavishing attention on Quinn. She got to do lots of “special” and “big girl” stuff. But she didn’t get a lot of mommy time. She actually seemed fine with it the first week. I wasn’t. I was crazy about Ruby, but I really, really missed Quinn. I missed our time together, missed her stories, missed our physical closeness. It suddenly hit me then that I would really never be alone with her like I used to, and I truly grieved the loss of the relationship.

During the second week, with daddy back at work and the novelty of all the special big girl stuff wearing off, Quinn caught on. She sobbed and screamed for mommy every time I brought Ruby to the breast, which of course was like 60 percent of the time. She would be happily playing on the floor, but as soon as the baby cried she would immediately scream that she needed her mommy. Everything had to be done by mommy. It was really, really hard. She was also pushing some molars through, so she was also in physical pain. My poor baby.

It’s gotten a lot easier since then. I think she has realized now that mommy will still be there for her, even if it’s not exactly the same as it used to be, and I think she is mostly OK with that. I guess I am, too. Now, when Ruby needs to nurse, Quinn will stand up and say that she needs to cuddle me on my other side at the same time, rather than demanding me all to herself. Sometimes I rock Quinn down for nap with Ruby nursing at the same time. She seems to accept that, too.

To me, that is the most amazing part of this whole baby siblings thing, and something I entirely overlooked when I was stressing about what our lives would be like: how much these girls already love each other. It is incredible, and it happened instantly. When Ruby cries, Quinn looks at me with a concerned face. “She needs her mama!” she says.

Sometimes I work so hard to make sure Quinn gets some mama time without her little sister, only for her to ask me where Ruby is and then say how much she misses her.

A few weeks ago, Quinn really amazed me with the strength of her love for her baby sister. I was in the midst of our marathon bedtime routine, having nursed Ruby down for bed and in the midst of rocking and singing to Quinn. Ruby started crying in the other room, and though my husband was there trying to soothe her, she kept crying. Because she had just nursed and had been really fussy with me too, I told myself that I would just let my husband handle it, that I would stay with Quinn, who deserved some of my time, too.

After a few minutes of listening to Ruby cry, Quinn said. “She needs her mama. You should go pick her up and rock her.”

“Yes,” I said. “So let’s work on falling asleep so mama can go do that afterwards.”

“No, mama,” she said. “You should go now. It’s OK. She needs her mama! Daddy will come read me a story”

So I guess that while both of these girls get a little less love and attention from me than they would without their sister, it’s OK. They get so much love from each other.

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  1. Awww 🙂 They’re so sweet 🙂

  2. Rebecca says:

    I LOVE this post!!!

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