A couple months ago we sat down Sarah Rochel to tell her that soon she was going to have a new baby brother or sister, thank you Hashem. My ever precocious, verbal child just smiled... okay, and then she asked if she could also go into Mommy's belly, and we explained that she had already 'been there - done that,' and in showing her pictures of me pregnant with her she lost interest in the baby and was more interested in herself.
Perfectly appropriate for her age.
When we went to the hospital, we left her here sleeping, and some girls came over to watch her (shoot - I still didn't pay the sitter! I had a baby and I have NO BRAIN! But I digress...). She woke up in the morning "and my orchim were there!" (we always call the shabbos seminary girl guests "orchim" and these high-school girls looked just the same). We called her and told her that she's now a big sister, and has a little baby sister, Shulamis Rivka. The babysitter told me she did a lot of nodding and grinning at the phone.
She goes to gan, and her friend's mom who had taken her says to the ganenet, "Sarah Rochel has something SO exciting to tell you!" and the ganenet says, "What IS it?" and Sarah Rochel says... "I saw an airplane yesterday!"
Again, perfectly appropriate for her age (and pretty darn funny).
When I came home from the hospital, when we were ready for her I went to pick up Sroch from the neighbor. She was totally unphased by my two day absence, which was simultaneously a relief (whew!) and depressing (harumph!). No, seriously, I was thrilled that she was so secure in her relationship with us and that we had warned her what was coming enough and she had actually gotten it that when the event happened she understood and was cool. So I come in to get her, and she's just like, "Hi Mommy." She was in the middle of a bath with her friend, so we get her out, and I take her home... and there in a car seat on the floor is Shulamis Rivka!
BIG grin on Sroch. "It's my baby?" Yes, it's your baby, your little sister. "Hello baby!"
And, bli ayin hara, it's just been that easy so far. Sroch loves loves LOVES to hold the baby (and does so well), loves to kiss her and stroke her hair ("Look, I not pushing her head, just stroking it"), loves to see if "my baby waked up!" and is totally helpful with critical parenting decisions, such as...
"My baby doesn't eat pizza yet. She's little. I eat pizza. When she is big, she eats pizza."
"Mommy, Mommy, the baby's crying. I think she wants to nurse. Mommy! She needs to nurse!"
"The baby wants to sit on my tricycle. She LIKES to sit on my tricycle!"
"I want to hold the baby." She's sleeping now, Sarah Rochel. "I hold her sleeping. She likes me to hold her. I hold her by myself."
Only twice now have I gotten anything resembling a territorial or, dare I say it, jealous comment. Once she asked me to stop nursing the baby so I could pick her up, and once for me to move the baby so she could sit on my lap. Now, I do not discount the TREMENDOUS advantage I still have in having both of my daughters' (hee hee - notice the location of the apostrophe! Thank you Hashem!) grandmothers here... having two kids is no sweat when you have more than one mother... and I know there may very well be all kinds of pebbles, rocks, boulders and icebergs (icebergs?) littering the path of Sibling Relations ahead.
But much like right now Shulamis sleeps beautifully, and I know that THAT will undoubtedly change eventually... I'm just enjoying the gracious gift I have now of peace between them.
Two nights ago I was putting Sarah Rochel to bed, and Shulamis was having a "I haven't eaten in DAYS" sudden cry. So I told Sroch to wait in bed, and I went to get the baby from my mother. "She may as well get used to the new normal," said I, boldly. I was worried of course, that Sroch would be upset at an intruder into our Private Time. But what was her reaction? "My baby came!" and she planted many kisses upon her head before she lay down to sleep.
Thank you Hashem!!
Now, life for my eldest daughter has NOT been totally rosy... she's a bit unsettled due to so much disruption of schedule and parties and visitors and such. She hasn't been napping, hasn't been eating well, has had her share of serious meltdowns, especially in the evenings. But the fact that none of her upset has been directed towards the baby is tremendous, and I am utterly thankful to God for that.
"Say cheese, baby!"