Monday, August 1, 2011


She loves her baby sister. She really does. She loves to hold her and kiss her and pat her when she hiccups. She tells her, "You have a pretty little face!" and says things like, "What's wrong little girl?" or "I love her little hands!" She nuzzles up to her and murmurs, "I love you...I love her."  
We prepared her as well as we could for a new baby. She understood that one was in Mommy's tummy, that it would come out, that she would have a new brother or sister (she always insisted it was a sister). But she didn't know what was coming really, what having a sister really meant. The difference is chiefly seen at night, when she goes to bed. Instead of doing the fake cry accompanied not by tears but by random requests to prolong the bed time routine, there are real tears. Lonely, heart breaking tears. And so I go back to her room over and over again. We talk about how much we love her. We talk about how safe she is in her bed with blanky and her fifty three stuffed animals watching out for her. We sing her favorite song over and over again. Last night, she finally gave in and slept when I wasn't talking or singing. I was just there, watching her, letting her know I was there. She checked through heavy eyelids to make sure I was there a few times before finally giving into that kind of exhausted sleep that tears bring.
And as I left her room, my heart ached. My baby is being forced to grow up a little. I wish I could keep her tiny and small, a grown up baby of sorts. And I wish that only because I want to protect her. I'm just grateful that this growing up can happen where I can still hold her and hug her and make sure she's safe.

But the changes are there. They come in tiny rifts, little bumps in her day-to-day life of love and structure that she has to negotiate. As adults, we had nine months to prepare for this, to open up our hearts and make room. We knew that the changes would be thick and heavy, that instead of doing just a million things at once, we'd have to do a billion. We knew all about the late night feedings and the diapers. But Annabelle didn't know, and so now she grows up in tiny measures at a time.

What I hope she does know is my love for her hasn't changed. And if it has, it's only grown. My gratitude for a brave little girl so willing to love a new sister without question is unmeasurable. And I'm simply grateful for her, period. My first born. The one who truly changed my life in all the best ways. As always, I hope she senses that her place in my heart and my life will never go away. I hope that as she adjusts, she'll remember that her parents love her more than they have words to convey. And most of all I hope that our love for her will carry her through these next weeks as we find our new normal.


Riss said...

I love those baby girls!!!!!!!

Kathy said...

Congrats on your new little girl. Can't believe how much she looks like her big sister! I remember when Spencer (my 2nd) was born. The guilt I felt was so overwhelming. With your first you can give them everything plus you get them all to yourself. I felt so guilty that I couldn't give Sydney what I used to give her, and guilty that I couldn't give Spencer what Sydney had as the firstborn. And then my perfect little angel started acting up and I felt even worse. At his six week check the doctor told me that no one can ever really grasp how a toddler's world is rocked when a new baby arrives...and yet they figure it out. And you figure it out, and pretty soon everything is "normal" again and you realize you've given both of your children the greatest gift--each other. Promise it will get easier for her and that you are doing all the right things. LOVE goes a long way!! :)

danielle said...

those pictures are so precious! :)

Jeanette said...

You are so tender Shauntel, reading your posts make my heart just... swell and ache and feel... more tender. Especially now, as we look forward to a new baby of our own and I also wonder how Hayden will feel. They, also, will be so close to 2 years apart... a couple of weeks or days and 2 yrs. I love reading your posts, they make my heart happy, and express so much of what I feel. Thank you :) And, I also just love your girls


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