The day we took our newborn son home from the hospital I was incredibly nervous. It wasn’t about the sleepless nights or how I would be able to take care of this little boy all on my own, it was for something else that I’d been fearing throughout my entire pregnancy.
Avery, my youngest daughter, was just 13 months old when we found out we were expecting. I did everything that I could to try to prepare her for having a new baby at home. She came with me to every doctor’s appointment, and we openly talked about the “baby in my belly” and how she was going to be such a great big sister to her little brother. But no matter how much I tried to prepare her for this new baby, I was terrified that she was going to resent me for having him.
I never for a second feared introducing my oldest daughter Harlan to Avery when she was born. Harlan was a little bit older than Avery was at the time, and it definitely made a difference in how much she understood about my pregnancy. This time around, I’d ask Avery where her baby brother was and she would lift up her shirt and point to her belly. No matter how much I tried, she just didn’t get it.
And though she didn’t get it, throughout those nine months Avery could sense there was a change coming. She didn’t know exactly what was happening, but she showed us that she knew something was coming. She grew more and more attached, would get separation anxiety when I had to go somewhere without her, and got very possessive when Harlan tried to come near me.
The day after having my son, both Harlan and Avery came up to see me and meet their new baby brother. I tried to do everything I could to make both girls feel as comfortable as possible when they walked in my room. I wasn’t holding the baby so that I could welcome them with open arms. Harlan immediately gravitated toward her little brother and wanted to hold him. Avery was terrified. She didn’t want to touch him or go near him and she didn’t know what to think of me. It was as if my fears were coming true right before my eyes.
I did everything in my power to make her feel comfortable and show her that I was the same person that I was before, we just have a new baby to add to our family. I knew it was going to take her some time before she adjusted, so time is what I was going to give her.
The next day we took Macks home from the hospital. Avery steered clear from him for most of the day and watched from afar as I nursed him quietly on the couch. I probably told her I loved her a thousand times that day just because I wanted her to know that that never changed.
That night as I was helping get dinner ready for the girls I walked out of the kitchen to find Avery sitting on the floor in front of her brother who was in the swing. She sat with books spread all around her and she was quietly “reading” some of her favorite stories to him. It was then that I realized that my fear of her hating me or her little brother was silly. She could never hate us, but she needed to get used to this change on her time, not mine.
As I walked over to her reading, I quietly whispered in her ear, I love you. She looked at me with the biggest smile on her face and said, “I love you, mommy.” And that’s when I knew everything was going to be okay.
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Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!