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Taking Time to Nurture the Big Sister

Just one day into my weekend break, and I can already tell you that it is fabulous. I woke a couple of times in the night, thinking I had slept through my alarm that prompts me to feed Elvie if she hasn’t woken on her own, only to note the dark, quiet of the room and the much bigger child sighing in her sleep next to me. I’m pretty sure I smiled every time I woke up and looked at Zinashi’s sleeping form, knowing I could sleep in, and she would, too.

Of all the things that this little break is affording me, the opportunity to connect with Zinashi for more than an hour or two is the best, most productive part. Having the luxury of taking special time for her as opposed to squeezing the time in between hospital duties is healing for both of us. Spending the day with Zinashi, with no reason to rush back to the train or the bus to get to the hospital by a certain time, allowed me to nurture her in a way I haven’t been able to since before we left for Ethiopia. I needed a break, but Zinashi really needed me to mother her in person, and I am so glad to have the opportunity to do that this weekend.

A lot of big things happened for our family and for Zinashi in particular between leaving for Ethiopia and now being home for two weeks, with a baby sister in the hospital. She became a big sister. She saw her Ethiopian family. She observed me crying about Elvie and for the first time it registered for her that adults could be heartbroken and sad, too. You might say that our little lady has a lot to process. I have felt like this has been largely put on hold due to the emergency with Elvie. I have also felt like Zinashi has handled this beautifully, and I want to make sure she knows it.

It may sound simple, but I think that the most important thing I did with Zinashi for our first day back together was to say out loud what I was thinking about her. I told her I missed her. I told her the day was special because I got to spend it with her, and that hasn’t happened enough lately. I told her that I was proud of her for being so patient and loving while Elvie is in the hospital. And I told her that I knew that things had been different, and that I was sorry, and that we would be at home as a family again soon.

I really am sorry, for her especially, that with so many big things happening, we haven’t been able to huddle together as a family unit to both enjoy each other and to allow her a lot of safe space to express anything that she is feeling. I hope that this weekend provides her with enough of that kind of space to make it until Elvie comes home, whether it be when just the two of us are together or when we are all hanging out in Elvie’s hospital room. She is such an amazing little person, our Zinashi, and I would be a fool to lose sight of that. We are so blessed and lucky that she is our very first baby. I plan to spend the rest of the weekend making sure that, deep down, she still knows how loved and treasured she is, even when we don’t have as much time to show it.

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More on Babble:

Common Health Problems in Adoption

Managing Our Lives During Elvie’s Hospital Stay

Becoming Elvie’s Mother

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