Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Sister

Baby G. has been home with us for three weeks now. At the end of the first week I was all ready to write a post about how well Valerie was coping. But now that it has become clear to her that he's here to stay... she's struggling.

The first time she saw him up close (rather than through the nursery window), Terry was holding him and she responded exactly as we'd predicted - "no no no no no AAAAAAAAAAAA!" But he passed G. to someone else and she calmed down. Even when I held him, she pretty much ignored him - unless we directed her to say "hi" or to point to his eyes, nose, ears, etc.

But then the shrieking started. She'd been shrieking before, and I'd tried giving time-outs to get her to stop (it worked to quell the biting), but it really took off during the week when her cousins were here. It was hard for her to have other kids in "her" space, playing with her toys, getting attention from her parents. Someday she'll look forward to seeing them and will follow Solana around and imitate everything she does, but right now sharing is very hard. So she'd shriek every time G. or her cousins would make a noise - any noise at all - so you can imagine it was starting to get on my nerves. It's hard to see her unhappy.

I've realized that it helps not only to make a point of spending time with her, but to really give her my focused, undivided attention, even to the point of ignoring G's little grunts (he's very gassy, so they're quite frequent) and waiting to respond to him until it's clear he's ready to eat or needs to be changed. I try to validate her feelings - "you don't like it when Gabriel makes noise" - and reassure her that she's still my baby and I love her very much. I've even stopped referring to Gabriel as "the baby" and just call him Gabriel or "your brother." Someday they will appreciate and be thankful for each other - it might be 30 years, but it will come (hopefully sooner than that!). Right now I figure that what I can ask of her - and of him too, come to that - is that as they grown into social beings they treat each other with respect and kindness. The love and affection will come in time.

I'm missing my mom tremendously right now - realizing in full just how much she was doing for us here, as well as the emotional support. Thankfully there's still another grandmother in town.

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