When 3 became 4: How adding a sibling changed everything

I am an only child.

Well, I had step siblings from my father’s second wife, but that isn’t the same thing. We didn’t have that intrinsic connection that I imagine siblings to have. Sure, I enjoyed growing up with them but I didn’t always feel welcomed or loved.

It was hard.

I wanted to feel more connected to them, for them to be like my real family, but no matter what, I always felt a bit on the outside.

When I was 21, my father died. It was a total surprise and left me and my step siblings shocked and upset. Even though we were all experiencing this loss together, I felt even further away from them then I ever had before. Here were these people who knew my pain – who were living it too, but we didn’t mourn together. They had each other to lean on, and I had myself.

I felt so alone.

Having someone to have gone through all of this with would have made a world of difference.

Im sure of it!

When Benny and I started thinking about wether or not we wanted to give Nori a sibling, I reflected on this time – how I felt, what I had wished for.

What if there was some sort of tragedy and Nori had no one to lean on?

She needed a teammate for life. A friend. Someone to talk shit about me and her dad to when she got in trouble. Some one to pick on and play with and really, do whatever it is that siblings do together – Im an only child, remember? I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I wanted her to have the forever friend that I didn’t have. I didn’t want her to ever feel alone.

Even though I had made up my mind about giving Nori a sibling, I had to work on Benny for close to a year before he was down for baby two!

I wasn’t worried though – I get what I want.

After three months of trying, I found out that I was pregnant. Nori was three years old.

We were THRILLED!

Soon enough, that happiness and excitement turned into anxiety and fear. Not fear of having the baby – we were already pros – but fear of what this new baby might do to our family dynamic. Fears about my special bond with Nori being broken.

I’d spend nights awake in bed, sobbing, worrying about losing Nori.

What the fuck?! We planned this!!

I thought about this for years. How did I suddenly realize that adding a sibling might be painful for her – for all of us?

I was mourning her – our love, our special bond – before anything had even happened.

Did we make a mistake?

I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my mind. Every moment that I spent with Nori, I treated like they were my last.

I gave her my full attention.

I held her close.

I breathed her in.

I kept telling her, “When your brother comes, things may be different, but just know that mommy and daddy love you so much! You’ll always be our special girl.”

Looking back, I don’t think that I should have said that so often. It probably hadn’t even occurred to her that things would be different.

I’m sure she smelled my fear.

Even though I was worried about her accepting the coming change, I also loved sharing my pregnancy with her. She loved my belly. She loved to kiss it and sing songs to it. She liked to feel the baby move. She would put her lips against my skin and talk to her brother.

She laughed when I used my belly as a table.

Nori’s sweet little hand on my baby bump.

When Mateo was born, she asked if we could put him back in there, because she loved my big belly so much.

He was better on the inside, in her eyes.

She didn’t come to visit us at the hospital. She didn’t want to facetime with us either. I tried to understand, while I laid in the hospital bed, nursing our son – her brother.

“It’s happening” I thought. “Everything I feared has come true.”

When we returned home with Mateo, Nori looked different to me. She looked humongous.

Her hands!!

Why were they so big?

How did she grow so much in the two days that we were at the hospital?

The fuck?

She hugged her brother. She hugged and kissed me and her father. She posed for photos. She was just being herself, but somehow, I felt like I didn’t know her anymore. I felt like she didn’t trust me – that I owed her something. I wanted to give her so much of me, to comfort her, to let her know that everything would be ok, but I couldn’t. I was exhausted, infatuated, distracted, hormonal. I expected her to be patient with me.

I expected my 4 year old to understand.

Nori and Mateo, when he was a few days old.

Benny took over most of my responsibilities that first month. He made Nori breakfast, he took her to school, he picked her up, he played with her, he made dinner, all while I laid in bed with Mateo, sleeping and nursing and sleeping and nursing.

Nori would come in to visit us. She never would come in the bed, but would stand at the edge and talk to me.

I wanted her closer. I wanted her snuggled there with me. I was missing her and I know she was missing me too.

After a few days, her sadness turned into anger and she started to be mean to me.

One morning, once Mateo was asleep, I went into her room to read with her and let her know that I’d do bath with her that night. I was focused on her. I needed to connect with her but she told me that she didn’t want to hear a story and that Benny should do her bath too. She asked me to leave her room.

Ouch.

I’d never felt rejection from her before and damn, did it hurt.

“Nori, I have this time to be with you, and you’re not being kind to me! I know that you miss me but I don’t think you understand that I miss you too.”

I started to cry. I couldn’t keep it together.

Nori looked at me in a way that I’d never seen her look at me before. I had never cried like that in front of my daughter, being her mom, I’d always held it together.

She jumped into my arms, crying and I held her.

She laughed, “Mama! We are both crying!” and then I laughed too.

Those early days were hard.

Mateo is almost 8 months old now and Nori is his favorite person in the whole house – well, except for me – but I think that’s just because I’ve got the boobs.

He laughs at everything she does. She will yell, “Banana bread!” and he cracks up and then we all crack up because it’s so random and funny!

Seeing their friendship blossom has been a treat. It fills my heart with so much love that I can feel it exploding!

The two of them being extra cute, playing on Mateo’s mat.

It’s crazy.

But, I’m not gonna lie, we still struggle.

Bedtime is a nightmare and sometimes, errands are too. Some days I feel so overwhelmed that when I am finally free to do whatever I need to do, I just go straight to bed. Some days Nori plays alone for hours while I struggle with a fussy baby, but we are getting there.

I’m trying my best.

Just the other night, Mateo was asleep in his room and I had my hands free to cuddle with Nori in her bed. I stroked her hair and sang her lullibies. Out of nowhere, she sat up and turned to me. She said, “Mama, I’m so sorry that I hated Mateo so much before, because now I love him!” and you know those heart explosions I mentioned before?

I had a thousand of them.

Published by

Emma Rose

Mom of two, wife of one, friend to many. Portland, OR.

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