Disclaimer: If your high and mighty self has never made a mistake or felt any kind of ill-feelings towards your child(ren) and you fart rainbows and sneeze glitter and butterflies, feel free to skip this post and leave the mommy-shaming in your head.
I had it in my head that because you were so excited about the impending arrival of your brother, that you would have a very smooth transition to his existence in our house.
You would tell every stranger we met that you were going to be a big brother. That momma had a baby in her belly. You even asked when you could have a baby in your belly…
You were sweet and helpful and concerned. You hugged my belly and said, “I love you brother!” and melted me into a puddle on the ground on the daily with how much you couldn’t wait to hold your baby “on the couch with a pillow” as you reminded me. But I was so wrong…
It started about a week before your brother was born and continued for about two months after. You became a total shit.
Every day, you would do something that made me scream inside my head (and sometimes out loud, though under my breath)
“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”
You’ve been doing things that you learned a LONG time ago not to do.
Pull the dogs ear? Yup.
Pee on the floor purposely? Yup.
Draw on the wall with marker? Yup.
Pinch your brother out of frustration? YUP.
Pull the pacifier out of your brother’s mouth after I’d just gotten him to sleep? YUP.
Make a meme worthy mess all over the toilet and half the bathroom with your trainer that you suddenly started pooping in EVERY MORNING? YUP.
Little things, big things, things in between: your MO every single day was to drive me absolutely bat-shit crazy over stupid stuff! And I just wanted to cry (and sometimes did) because
“WHERE HAS MY SWEET BABY BOY GONE?!”
And that’s not to say that you weren’t sweet to your brother sometimes because you were. Looking back, it was probably more than I felt like at the time. I was super hyper aware of your intensity, and it scared me. I was in preprogrammed postpartum mama-bear mode, and it was my sole job to keep your brother alive. You were a threat to that sometimes, and it scared the crap out of me.
We gave you attention, probably more deliberately and more often than before brother was born, but it was to no avail. You were going to adjust in your own time, and apparently “adjusting” to you meant losing your damn mind and regressing beyond what any of us expected (though now we know was entirely normal).
My entire focus the week before Everett was born was consumed with intense nesting and trying every gentle approach possible to getting him OUT of my body earthside. And from the minute he was born, all of my physical attention turned to recuperating and keeping him alive through nursing and bonding and diaper changes. Your father took over as the sole parent for nap and bedtime routine with you so that I could rest and nurse and figure out life with two at my own pace. You and Daddy bonded over Legos, and he even taught you how to play a video game on the Xbox (two of your new favorite things to do together every day when he comes home after work now).
And even though I tried to have one on one time with you too, you wanted very little to do with me from the minute you met your brother in the hospital.
You didn’t want to get up on the hospital bed to take a photo; you didn’t want to snuggle with me in the recliner at home when Daddy was holding Everett; you didn’t want to play with me, only Dad. I’m not going to lie to you; it really hurt my heart, even though I knew this was normal behavior.
And when Dad had to go back to work after his two weeks off (yes, we are SO beyond lucky to have had that much time with him) and your grandma had gone home the week after that, I was all alone with the both of you, and I was terrified. My temper with you had short circuited, especially when it came to your brother. I didn’t know how I would keep my cool when it was just the three of us at home all day.
I drilled it into you, “When the baby is sleeping, then we can play. Don’t wake the baby!” Because every single time I finally got him in the napper sound asleep, you would suddenly feel the need to go and touch him or shake the bassinet or pull the pacifier from his mouth ON PURPOSE, and then I would have to calm and rock and nurse all over again, and then I didn’t feel like playing with you at all because I was pissed off at the way you’d deliberately disobeyed me and upset your brother. And then, I would feel guilty and fall apart in tears the minute your father got home because I couldn’t believe you were acting that way or talking back to me the way you were (you’re only 3 after all!) and I couldn’t stand you… and I couldn’t stand myself for feeling that way about you. Momma guilt ate me alive when I was already so tired, so emotional, so drained from healing and being the sole sustenance of another human being on beyond broken sleep. My anxiety over his safety was out of control sometimes, especially when I forgot to take my placenta capsules. I thought things would never get better.
So, why am I telling you all this? To let you know that if someday you have children of your own, it does get better.
Eventually, it clicked.
Eventually, you became helpful instead of harmful, and we fell into our rhythm again.
Eventually, I didn’t want to lose my mind every time you did something, and I learned to give you ways to help instead of reprimanding you for every misstep.
Eventually, you crawled up into my lap, heavy and sweet and suddenly this humongous boy, no longer my baby, with legs far too long and a complete absence of the downy soft hair and intoxicating baby smell that you used to have, and you hugged me and told me you loved me, and sat there with me for an entire episode of Daniel Tiger, just the two of us, the way it used to be, and the way it never would truly be again.
And we sat there, absorbed in the moment, and I held you tight and told you how much I loved you and welcomed back my sweet boy.
A very tired but much less stressed out now Momma
3 thoughts on “Dear Firstborn”
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!! We are expecting our second and before reading your post I was kinda hoping our first one will smoothly transition into the big brother role. But given his personality I think we should expect the same. Hoping for the best!
Welcome! Good luck and congrats!