What in the world did I do?
I thought having a second child would be this amazing, beautiful thing. When we told our daughter the news – that she was going to be a big sister – she was thrilled. See, she’d been lobbying for a baby. All her friends had one and she wanted in on the action.
Even though things had been hard (after all, parenting is the hardest but best thing ever), I knew we wanted our girl to have a sibling – someone down in the trenches with her, someone to share battle stories as they got older, someone to have build memories with. We both have very close families and knew that we wanted the same for our girl.
Don’t get me wrong. Having a second baby has been amazing. Our sweet new baby is precious and perfect. She completes our family.
But our firstborn? I’m pretty sure I’ve ruined her life. At least her little preschool life. She’ll recover. She’ll be better for it. But in the meantime, man the guilt is pretty strong.
It really is all my fault. I haven’t been able to give her the attention she needs. Before the new baby, we were inseparable. She got my undivided attention, she did not want for anything. Was she spoiled? Maybe. Probably. But she was my one and only. My baby.
While I was pregnant, I couldn’t imagine ever loving anyone more than I loved her. How could it be possible? How was there room?
And then the baby came. This baby, our second, our sweet girl, she’s easy. She’s that “good baby” everyone talks about. I love her so much. Everyone was right – your heart does grow exponentially. But even easy as she is, infants still have so many needs. Our whole routine is thrown off: she’s nursing every two hours, she’s waking at all hours of the night, she naps constantly during the day. We’re not doing all the fun things we used to, all the adventures and big kid things. I’m not putting my big girl to bed; I’m not snuggling her on the couch.
And in response? My firstborn is spiraling. Her little body has these huge emotions and she can’t process and contain them. I can’t help but realize I caused this – I ruined her life.
It will get better. I’m sure it will get better. It has to get better. And I’ve got to make it happen. I’ve got to be better about setting aside time for just her. I’m exhausted, I’m still recovering physically, I’m back at work, and I feel like I have nothing left to give. But I’ve got to make this happen for her. Special things just for big sister, lots of attention and positive affirmation.
One day, I’ll look back fondly on these early days. These days when our family grew from three to four, when our baby girl became big sister and suddenly seemed so big and grown up. And this ruining of my girl’s life? It isn’t real. It is temporary. I see the future – when she plays with the baby, when she announces to everyone we see that it is her baby, when she helps change diapers, when she gives so many kisses and hugs. I see the amazing bond that is building between these two and I know all of this will be worth it.
So dear firstborn, my first baby girl – you are brave, you are strong, you are independent. You are going to be an incredible big sister. I’m learning to be a better mom with each day, and I’m grateful for you as you navigate this new chapter with me. Please forgive me for ruining your life. It will all be worth it. All the change, the sharing, the new routines. My hope for you is that this sister of yours will be your best friend, your partner in crime. My hope is that you’re her fierce protector, you’re her confidant, her source of sage wisdom. Being the big sister is an important job and you’re going to be great.
And I know I didn’t ruin your life. I know it feels like it right now. But I know being a big sister is one of the best things to ever happen to you. At three, you may not realize it, but I promise some day you will.