Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not What He Expected


Westley is tired of being asked what he thinks of his little sister. Every time we go somewhere as a new family of four, an adult inevitably asks him about big brotherhood, and I watch his face just fall. It's not that Westley doesn't love Ivy—it's clear that he absolutely does love her, at least enough to explain the entire plots of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to her yesterday morning—but having a baby around is nothing like he imagined it would be.

Westley knew Ivy wouldn't be able to ride a tricycle right away, or watch movies, or play Attacktix with him. But he didn't count on Mommy being so laid up, especially in the first few days. Fortunately, Daddy has been home full-time for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, Daddy has been picking up the slack for Mommy, in addition to dealing with his own sleep deprivation. It certainly hasn't been non-stop Daddy/Westley fun time!

The standard reply to "What do you think of your little sister?" has been, "Pretty great" (no exclamation point). He's also said, "I'm so glad I have a little sister," several times since she was born. But Westley is not at all happy about sharing his mother's attention—and he's been taking his anger out on every adult except me. Rob gets the worst of it (there's been a huge increase in father/son friction since Ivy's birth), but the grandparents have also been treated to a new crabby side of Westley. Meanwhile, I sit in my rocker, nurse the baby, try to intervene, try to stay out of it, wish everyone would stop bickering and just get along, cry because I can't fix things.

I feel guilty for not having prepared Westley better for his sister's arrival. I wish I had done more to make the adjustment period smoother for him. Though I'm not exactly sure what I would have done.

Truth be told, this new family dynamic is not what I expected either.




Candace said...

Oh girl, the guilt is a plenty in those first few months. There is no way to prepare anyone for a new baby. Westley feels a lot of things right now that he doesn't understand and the only thing you can do is love him. You and Rob are doing everything possible to make things work and don't be so hard on yourself. Besides, you had some trauma and the emotions are high in your house. Things will balance themselves out, just try to be patient and understand that this is temporary. I cried a lot in the first 3 months because I felt guilty that Emma didn't have me to herself anymore or that I couldn't do it all. I didn't feel up to the challenge of two but now we are a smooth running machine. Having two kids takes practice and you all need an adjustment period.

Good luck and lots of love!

Allison the Meep said...

The age gap between Julian and Audrey is similar to the one you have with Westley and Ivy. Jules was NOT happy about any of it when Audrey was first born. He didn't even want to hold her, and told me that he wished she could live with another family. I had a lot of guilt too over feeling that I didn't prepare Julian enough for the transition, or that he would feel like we didn't love him as much anymore.

It sounds like you guys are already doing a really good job of spending special alone time with him and making him feel important. It will just take some time. But I promise you, he will eventually be super happy to be a big brother. One thing that seemed to really help Julian was when I would spend some time with him while Audrey was asleep, and read aloud to him. I think we read "The Borrowers" books during that time.

You are doing a great job with everything. It just takes time.

Sarah said...

As a very regular and long-time lurker, I have to echo what the previous two posters have said. And send you a big hug, too. I have been where you are, and it's hard.

My first son was younger than Westley when my second son came along (he was 25 mos), but his reaction was also a bit less than enthused. I was also wracked with guilt, and spent a lot of time crying and worrying in the first few weeks. With time however, my older son adjusted. It didn't happen overnight - it was probably a few months before he really embraced big brotherhood. But now that my younger son is 19 months, they are great buddies. I wasn't sure it would ever happen, but it did.

Emotions run so high with a new babe in the house - for so many reasons. Time will help settle all of them, and you *will* settle into a new groove as a family of four.

You are doing great!

The Beckster said...

I have a son who is almost 4 years old and a 4 month old little baby girl. My son just adores his little sister, but the transition and subsequent confusion/conflicting feelings of love & jealousy have definitely affected his behavior. I think it's hard because he LOVES his sister, but he HATES being left out in all the little ways that are bound to happen regardless of how much me, my husband, the grandparents, the aunts, and THE EVERYBODY try to include him. It's just impossible to give him the totally undivided attention he used to get. The day Hope (our daughter) was born, he started having accidents again and he stayed that way for 6 weeks. It's finally now just getting back on track, his and I's relationship, and I have found spending a good hour with him every night while I put him to bed helps A LOT but it's hard when the baby is little and you have to nurse every five minutes. Anyway, sorry for the long comment but your post resonated and I wish you lots of luck and sending positive thoughts. You have a beautiful family, hopefully this time of transition will yield a very strong and bonded family unit --- I'm sure it will!!!!

Amber @ Backwards Life said...

Alexa seems weirdly unintrested after a the first month of pocessivness. It's only in the last week or so that she's acting loving towards Emma without me asking for her to hug or kiss her :-)

I try not to push it. I've felt so many emotions about having a second child. The guilt is awful.

We didn't prepare Alexa at all...but how could we. Other than involving her. You're doing that and the fact that you feel like you should've done more probably means you've done more than most :-)