Before our second child was born, I wondered how our oldest daughter would handle it all. Aneliese was going to be almost 21 months when the new baby arrived but due to complications in my pregnancy, our little girl ended up arriving a month and a half early. Aneliese didn’t handle the weeks prior to her birth well because I was unable to do much and others had to take a large role in the hands on care, though I remained very present through it. Because Aneliese was so young, I didn’t expect her to understand what it meant to have a new baby and I wasn’t sure how she would deal with the loss of my attention. To my surprise, she arrived at the hospital eager to meet her baby sister, Cecily. She took one look at my belly, noticed that it was much flatter and immediately switched her kisses and affection that it had received for several months over to “baby Ceci Jane”.
I think that I had worried that I would be so caught up in the new baby that I would leave Aneliese out. So especially in the first days I included Aneliese in everything such as diaper changes and feeding. She actually was an incredible help by getting diapers and clothes. Often when I was feeding she would cuddle up with us and we would read or talk to Cecily. Now I will sit with my legs stretched out on the couch and she will sit on my legs. I also realized early that because Aneliese is so sensitive, that we had to calmly show her how to handle Cecily. For example instead of telling her not to touch Cecily’s eyes, we showed her to touch her head, hands or cheeks and we demonstrated gentle touches.
I also find that because Cecily sleeps so much more I still have time to focus specifically on Aneliese, talking with her or playing. At times I am wearing Cecily or she is in her chair, but Aneliese knows that I am focused on her. The reverse is also true; I can give Cecily focused time while Aneliese is having her nap. To be honest it is easier to not be as intentional with Cecily than it is with Aneliese. Of course, I have to change, hold, and feed Cecily often but it can easily become routine rather than intentionally giving myself to her.
Aneliese has become more independent since Cecily was born but I feel that she shows confidence in the deep attachment that we have. She does have days where she need a lot of affirmation and attention as does Cecily. The times when they both really need me can be difficult especially if they are both crying. I also find myself looking ahead to when they are both a little older and their needs change or if one is higher needs than the other or has a more dominant personality, but I usually catch myself and remember I can’t leave this season in order to prepare for the next one.