It was my second pregnancy and everything was going well, but as my belly grew, so did the ache in my heart.
As we swept along with the swell of preparations, I’d look back at the tiny heart-shaped face of my first-born, so blissfully unaware, and my heart would crack, ever so slightly. I missed him already.
We were excited to meet our baby girl, but as her due date crept closer, I felt an urgency to make memories with my firstborn. The sadness of knowing he’d never remember a time when it was just us overwhelmed me.
We’d spent two and a half years revolving around our little sun. He had no idea it could be any different. The attention, the time, the love: it was ALL for him. ALL the time.
I was utterly consumed with all the things my little boy was about to lose.
He knew Mummy was having a baby, but we could’ve told him we were adopting a pink elephant and it would’ve meant the same. I spent my final few weeks researching the best possible ways to ease him through this change and help him accept the new baby.
The night before my second baby was due, I wept; grieving the loss of our family of three. It was never coming back.
The day our daughter arrived, I propped myself up in bed, anxiously waiting for my little boy to come and meet her. I’d read ALL THE THINGS about how to make the introduction go well. The baby was in her bassinette so my arms would be free for him. I put on a big smile and calmed my tears and told myself to smother him with attention so he wouldn’t feel like he’d been replaced.
I got a text message from my husband. They were here.
My little blonde hurricane skidded into the room, crashing through the curtain, brandishing a single broken flower like a sword. He threw it at the bed and barrelled straight past me and over to the bassinette.
I sat like a sad, forgotten teddy at the playground. Didn’t someone used to love me?
This wasn’t the plan. How did he know she was here? Or even where she was?
“SISTER!” He squeaked, pointing at her clear cubby, “SISTER SISTER!!”
He pinballed around the room, beeping and bipping until we sat him down and told him he could hold her.
As my husband lowered his little sister into his arms, my big boy’s eyes widened like I’d never seen before.
It was love. Pure love. At very first sight.
My heart exploded into two. One for each of them.
I’d been so busy worrying about what he was going to lose, I never stopped to think about what he was going to gain.
And I never realised one of the greatest joys of my life would be watching him become a big brother. He’s always been a beautiful boy, but his spirit transformed when he was bestowed with the title, ‘big brother’.
Watching him strut down the hospital corridor, yelling, “MY SISTER” at any poor soul who dared look in his direction blew me away. He’s always been wary of strangers, he doesn’t like talking to people he doesn’t know. This proud kid was a totally new person. It’s like all he needed in life was a little sister to take care of.
The things I love most about him are all the ways he takes care of her. The way he beats me to her whenever she’s hurt, the way he tries to cheer her up when she’s sad, the tenderness in his voice when he calls her, “bub”, the way he laughs when she does something funny.
After 21 months, he still adores her and she loves him more than all of us put together. They fight over toys and snatch food out of each other’s mouth, but the threat of being separated is the gravest punishment of all. They want to be around each other even if it’s to wrestle over toys. He talks to her non-stop, trying to teach her things and tell her secrets. Even before she started speaking, he’s always known exactly what she wants and when.
I often wonder what he’d be like if we’d never had another child and it makes me sad that we might never have seen this side of his personality. I see him look for her when there are lots of kids around. He feels calmer and more confident when she’s there because he’s got at least one guaranteed friend.
I know it’s not as easy for a lot of kids and I know my two will fight and argue constantly as they grow up but ultimately I think they’ll be glad to have each other. If only so they’ve got one other person on the planet who knows the agony of having me for a mum.