6 Apr 2015

Siblings


I am an only child – and incidentally, so is John – and it’s fair to say that I hate it. Ever since I was little I’ve longed for a brother or a sister, and the fact that I don’t have a sibling, someone else to call family and to share everything this entails with, is probably the one big regret of my life (not that it was ever in my power to change this).

I don’t think John feels as strongly about it as I do, but nevertheless, we always knew that we wanted two kids and not an only child like we are.

So when I fell pregnant with Alex, one of the things I was most excited about was that we were giving Becky that much longed for sibling, and I couldn’t wait to see their relationship and bond grow each day.

Only, that it didn’t quite happen this way.

Initially, things were going well. All throughout pregnancy (Becky had just turned three when we were over the 12 week mark and told her about the baby in Mummy’s tummy), she would show interest in my belly, ask lots of questions and stick dollies up her own T-shirt, and shortly before I was due, she even had lots of fun painting a “tattoo” on my belly. It seemed, she was looking forward to becoming a “big sister”.


Until Alex actually came along.

I didn’t read too much into the fact that when Becky visited me and Alex in hospital, where I had to stay overnight, she was more excited about the “Frozen” dolls she had received as a gift from her brother, and that after only two minutes, she asked Daddy: “Can we go home now” without even gracing Alex with so much as a glance. I understood. The “Frozen” dolls were far more interesting, important and tangible for her than some alien baby that had just appeared.

Once we were home, Becky still didn’t seem particularly bothered about her new brother. She barely looked at him, never wanted to hold or stroke or be near him, and whenever he cried, she would also be in floods of tears, mainly because she didn’t like the noise.

We took it as normal behaviour and saw it as phase of adjustment to our new set-up. We made sure that we didn’t give her any cause for envy and always involved her, but it didn’t make a difference. She was never outright or openly jealous, she never said anything against him, and she never hit him or was aggressive toward him in any other way, which I know can often be the case. 

But Becky was simply not interested in her baby brother. Not at all. Completely indifferent. She was happy playing on her own, or drawing or watching the iPad while I was feeding Alex or tending to his needs, but she never engaged in any interaction with Alex.

The only times she would acknowledge her baby brother would be at nursery, where all her other little friends were obsessed with Alex and kept kissing and cuddling him whenever we dropped her off or picked her up. Then she’d say: “This is my baby brother! Look!” But it was clearly just to get the attention of her friends.

All we could do is accept things as they were and wait. We never forced her to interact with her brother or cuddle him or anything. We just let things be.

But inside, I was sad. That beautiful relationship that I had so craved for my kids, that in many ways I had hoped would heal my own unfulfilled desire for a sibling, it just wasn’t happening.

This was particularly difficult to accept as several of my friends with kids of similar ages and age gaps told very different stories. They would show me pictures of their little ones, cuddling and play fighting and kissing each other, and my heart would be heavy knowing that I couldn’t even get Becky to pose next to Alex. Even my friends’ boys were obsessed with their younger siblings, and yes, to indulge every gender cliché here, I did think that Becky, being a girl, would have had a natural rapport and affinity with a baby from the start, being the caring, kind and altogether lovely little girl that she normally is. But it wasn’t so.

Until one day - things suddenly changed.

I don’t even know the specific day or what triggered it. But suddenly, about two months ago, I started to notice that Becky’s attitude was changing.

I would suddenly catch her chatting to her baby brother, or trying to soothe him when he was grumpy or seemed frightened. “Alex, don’t be scared. There’s no reason to be scared,” she’d say to him, while stroking his cheek or holding his hand.

Or she’d try to make him laugh. Or bring him toys. Or say “good boy” when he’d eaten all his dinner or when he made his first attempts rolling over or sitting unaided.


Now she is helping me change him, bath him, feed him, and generally plays with him and entertains him, and when he started in her nursery a few weeks ago, she insisted on dropping him off in the baby room and picking him up, and this has become our little routine. I’ve been told by the staff that whenever the kids are in the garden, she will always go up to him and cuddle him, and she’s even asked once or twice whether she can go upstairs and see him during the day.

And Alex is loving it. He adores his sister, has done so from the start, or at least since he has become aware of his environment. He always follows her with his eyes, wants to copy what she’s doing, and smiles at her, even from afar, and you can tell that he couldn’t be happier than when she tries to make him laugh, which he rewards with the biggest of giggles.



There are no words to express how happy this makes me. I literally cannot stop smiling about it. My girl and my boy finally becoming little buddies is like the most precious of gifts, it’s what I always hoped it would be like, and I cannot wait to finally see their relationship and bond blossom each day.

I know that there will be times where they will both want to bash each other's heads in, but ultimately, they are flesh and blood. They are family, and whatever life throws at them, they will always have each other.
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8 comments

  1. Oh this is a lovely post, I guess sometimes it just takes time to get used to, it's such a change for them! I'm currently 17 weeks pregnant with my second and my Daughter, Darcie is 2 (3 in June). At the moment she is very interested in bump and the prospect of being a big sister, but I am also aware that this will be such a huge change for her (and us!).

    Thank you for sharing.

    Kay xxx

    www.mummyburgess.co.uk

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  2. Thank you so much and congratulations on your pregnancy. How exciting! I'm sure Darcie will be a great big sister, even if it may take her a while to get used to it, like Becky. The important thing is that they all get there, in their own time. We never forced Becky, and I guess as soon as Alex became more developed and interactive, Becky started to be more interested in him. It is a huge change, but it's also such a wonderful journey. I loved it so much the second time round! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. xx

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  3. What an interesting read, I really enjoyed this. I am so glad that their bond is getting stronger now. My eldest really is a sister in a million and has loved and adored her little sister since the moment she first met her. Nowadays they are so close (and the little one adores her as well) but they do argue non stop. (they are 4 and 2) But their bond is just lovely. I always wonder what it would be like if we had a third because I doubt my youngest would be as tolerant to a baby. xx

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  4. Thanks Katie! I follow your blog and can tell that your gorgeous girls are so close, it's so lovely. I really hope that Alex and Becky's bond will continue to grow now and that they will be best of buddies and a little unit. xx

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  5. Such a lovely post. Had a big smile on my face near the end. You can tell they both adore eachother in those photos.
    My eldest didn't want to touch or hold her younger sister in hospital, she just wanted to go! Hospital can make it difficult for them too.
    Also with her having all the attention then all a sudden someone comes in and the attention has to be shared it can be a shock for her. I am so glad she is ok with Alex now!
    The bond will get closer and closer as they grow!

    So happy for you.


    Beth
    www.life-as-mum.co.uk

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  6. Thank you Bethan! Yes, it must be tough for the older sibling when there's suddenly another person, which is why we never pushed her to do anything with Alex until she was ready. And I'm so glad that she got there in the end, it means so much to me. So far, things are going well and she is paying him more and more attention each day. I love it and really hope this will continue. xx

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  7. Oh I love your siblings post ( I am late with mine ooops) They look so adorable together here. Love all your siblings photos. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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  8. Thanks Jenny. Now that Becky has finally bonded with Alex, I must try to take more regular shots of them together, as these will be really treasured memories for me, and will demonstrate how their little bond will (hopefully) continue to grow. x

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