The Gift of Siblings: Number Two Is the Lucky One

3 years ago

When our son, Sam, was just under a year old, Marc (my husband) and I seriously began a conversation about trying for a second baby. I was feeling confident that we were ready (or, ready enough), and Marc was opening up to the idea.

I think our main difference in thought was that Marc considered a second child to be sort of a “gift” for Sam (how cool would it be for Sam to have a sibling?), while I thought he/she was more a gift for us (how cool will it be for us to have another baby in our lives?).

After almost eight months of living with our little daughter Eleanor, I think we were both slightly off the mark. Because really, in this situation, I think Ellie is the lucky one.

I didn’t always feel like this. In fact, for the first three months of her life, I felt major guilt about not being able to hunker down with my beautiful newborn and relish every moment. I wanted that initial honeymoon with her: cuddly naps, quiet walks with the just two of us, stories, songs, and baby massages. I wanted everything I had experienced with Sam.

Anyone who has two children this close together knows this cannot be the reality. Unless the older child is in daycare or school, there is no way to have very many of these precious, quiet moments; a two-year-old is every bit as demanding for attention as a newborn.

But here we are, almost eight months later. The kids sleep in the same room (Eleanor in Sam’s old crib, and Sam in a twin bed), they sit together on the floor with a bin of toys spilled between them, they listen to stories together at nap time cuddled up in Sammy’s bed, they sit at the table and grin at each other between mouthfuls. Eleanor is almost never alone. She falls asleep to the sound of her big brother quietly playing with his cars in bed (let’s be clear: that is on a good night), and when Sam wakes up in the morning, he looks for her right away (she’s often in bed with us by that time).

It’s not all peachy, of course. Ellie gets bonked. She’s often overdue for a good sleep. Pretty much everything she works so hard to grab is immediately snatched out of her hands. She might in fact think her full name is, “No Baby Eleanor!” But she’s never known the world without Sam in it. Her world is loud and sometimes chaotic, but it’s oh so lively and full of laughing and love.

I don’t feel guilty as much these days. I feel thankful. I feel happy. I feel like we’ve given these two little humans the greatest gift: each other.

That bit of food on Ellie’s face is cupcake remnants (she got ahold of a wrapper). Sugar: Just another thing she gets to experience so much earlier in life, thanks to her big brother. She seems content with that situation.

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