…All I can say is, I love them both so very much!
When my daughter first met her little brother, she very gently caressed his soft, soft hair. Mine and my husband’s heart about burst with love, and we both thought to ourselves_ it will be all right. We love them, and they will love each other. It will be all work out.I know it sounds very obvious and rather silly. I know it sounds completely evident, obvious, and on the whole not important enough to be the subject of a post.
But the truth is, loving them, each of them separately, makes everything all right. All the little irritations, the disruptions, the imbalances, the worries and the issues essentially work themselves out when you simply, straightforwardly, factor love into the equation. I love them both so much. Therefore, I will find a way to balance things out for them, so that their relationship, decided for them and not by them at such a young age, works out.
Since that day, which took place not long ago… our plans have not stopped being upset, and we have not stopped making do. And laughing as we go. Case in point:
A few minutes after my daughter first saw my son, she also saw his discarded bottle of pumped milk. We did not think much of letting her drink it, so she did. Except of course, five minutes later he decided he was hungry again, which meant I had to nurse him. Now, I had not intended to nurse him just then; I’d been hoping the point of “we have a baby” would have well sunk in by the time she realized that “new baby brother” also means “sharing mommy’s milk”.
But no. No such luck. I had to nurse within 10 minutes of them meeting, right in the hospital’s parents’ waiting room. And I did.
The moment my daughter saw me nurse, she also wanted to nurse. So I sat there, on a strange couch, tandem nursing: the infant was on the left, the toddler was on the right. I think I had a strange expression of vague, vapid, dreamy “total motherhood” on my face. At least, it feels like what must have been on my face. I was in alt: not because it was awesome to nurse 2 kids at once, but because it was working. Because it was manageable, possible, and with the help of my husband (carefully propping the newborn up a little) it was all fine. It, quite simply, worked out.
And this has been my mantra since: as long as it works out, I don’t mind. I have two kids. I love them both. I love caring for them both. We cope. And that’s all we want_ to slowly cope better and better, until we reach cruising altitude.
Now, if there is one thing I DO mind, it is totally well-meaning, but outrageously misplaced, advice. Such as something I heard the other day: “Explain to your toddler that the milk is for baby brother, stop her nursing!” How creative. Take away her favorite source of nourishment and comfort, her foremost connection to her mommy… What a wonderful way of ensuring my daughter really grows to hate having a brother! And totally NOT going to happen, either.
Seriously, though: I completely agree that my newborn has first dibs on my milk. HOWEVER, I do NOT think this means I have to somehow short my toddler. She is entitled to the same level of care and kindness that I want her brother to have; if my milk were not important to her, if nursing weren’t that big a deal for her, I probably wouldn’t bother making any effort. But, such is not the case; it is important to my brilliant, adorable, powerful little girl; my little girl who has rights too, and whose importance to me and to our lives hasn’t changed a bit, irrespective of the fact we chose to have a second child so soon after the first. And I’m not going to stop her just because it would be more convenient than to use my brain and my milk pump, building my supply up to nursing two babies instead of one. Granted, sometimes she will have to wait; sometimes she will not be able to nurse at the same time as her brother. Sometimes she will skip nursing because of contingent factors. Sure. But that is down to the realities of nursing them both.
The principles at work are, and remain, simple: juggling two under two, in my opinion, implies and entails respecting each, and loving them both. Because, contrary to what the aforementioned kind lady strongly implied with her words, you cannot just define your child by his age-related needs: you need to respect him or her enough to find out what his or her wishes are, love them enough to want to make this extra effort.
And, maybe, not care so very much that your daughter thinks her pacifier should kiss her brother’s pacifier once a day.