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Thursday, 03 October 2013 08:00

Sister Act

The other day, Audrey woke up from a nap as we were just sitting down to eat a meal with friends (classic baby timing) and so she was a little bit disoriented when we picked her up and sat her in her high chair - right next to our friend Steve, whom she probably hadn't seen in quite awhile. She stared at him for a few seconds before her face slowly transformed into that expression of baby trauma and she burst into heartbroken sobs.  Suddenly, and inexplicably, Clara began to cry also - honestly distressed, tears began spilling down her face also. We had no explanation for it, and Clara couldn't tell us what was wrong. A few moments later, both girls were fine.

Some days we think they're connected. 

They love playing together more and more. Clara will chase Audrey around on the floor - crawling - saying "I'm gonna get you! I'm gonna get you!" And both girls will giggle uncontrolably. 

Wherever Clara is, Audrey wants to be also.

Whatever Clara has, Audrey wants to have also. If we give Clara some kind of snack or toy, Audrey's arm shoots out in front of her, expectantly waiting for some of her own. 

Now that both girls have been sharing a room for awhile - Clara almost refuses to sleep without Audrey in the room with her.  If Audrey needs to be fed after Clara has gone to bed, Clara will scream "Bring my sister back! Right. Now.!" 

Last night both girls seemed unable to sleep. At one point, I came into their room and explained to them that Mommy wanted to sleep (I dramatically slumped to the floor for effect) and that I couldn't sleep until they were quiet and so they MUST GO TO SLEEP!

The image of me lying on the floor between their beds was apparently too hilarious to handle, and so I had one giggly baby looking down at me from between her crib slats, and a giggly toddler joining me on the floor.  Then, when Audrey pressed her face between her crib slats for a kiss (you know how you can just tell when they want a kiss?) Clara jumped up and the two girls started kissing each other repeatedly, all the while giggling like lunatics. 

I love watching this 'Sister' relationship unfold. It's like watching The Gilmore Girls back when it was on TV - I just can't wait to see what happens next! 

Published in Blog
Friday, 08 February 2013 09:40

Sisters and Pictures and Updates

Tuesday morning started like any other Tuesday morning - Clara refused to get dressed.  Most days I don't worry too much about it, unless she will be going out or we will be having company.  Tuesdays, however, are a 'going out' day for Clara - I teach piano in the evenings, and Brian's parents routinely take her to their house for supper and the evening on Tuesdays each week.

Toddler psychology lesson (for me and my toddler, anyway) - ignore her request to not get dressed and make a big deal out of dressing her sister. :)

I had purchased a couple of matching t-shirts for the girls over the weekend, and I pulled one of these out to dress Audrey in.  Then, I made a big deal out of it and how adorable it was and blah, blah... suddenly Clara had jumped off her bed - pushed it toward her dresser (because standing on her bed is the only way she can see into her t-shirt drawer) and peered into her t-shirt drawer saying "I want that one!".  I knew she was pointing to the matching shirt, and I felt pretty smug about having co-erced her into getting dressed.  It was also an excuse to have the girls dressed alike. :)

I posted a few days ago about the dSLR camera that Brian had borrowed from work, and on Tuesday - my last day with it - I took a few more photos of the girls.

Clara was trying to get Audrey to hold the play fork.

Clara has this constant need to hug her sister - it's adorable, but I'm always nervous for Audrey's neck!

Tuesday was also our first full day of having the 'gummy' (soother) under her pillow while she was awake.  Except for one little melt-down when she cried for about 6 seconds about not being able to have it, she has been really good about not having it.  I just need to remind her occasionally, and she will either place it on her bed herself, or if she was going to get it, she will happily continue playing without it. She did tell me today, however, that we needed to buy new ones - so I think she might be under the impression that keeping her gummy under her pillow is just temporary until we get some back-up gummies. 

I had grand intentions to bake cookies, and get started on a kind of 'home-school' curriculum for Clara - just a basic one for toddlers that I found online. It mostly involves learning letters and numbers and singing little kiddy songs.  I wanted some sort of structure to our play times together and something I could plan for - but when I got up in the morning all of that suddenly seemed like too much work.  

Published in Blog
Sunday, 18 November 2012 22:00

Life with Audrey

Audrey is 3 weeks old this weekend (since Friday morning), and I think we're starting to adjust to being a family of four!

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on Clara's reaction to Audrey, and how we tried to prepare her for being a big sister.  I also talked about how my feelings about Clara had changed and suddenly I felt as though I had to protect Audrey from Clara and that Clara was suddenly a threat.  Clara also seemed to 'grow up' overnight, and I suddenly seemed to expect her to behave in a much more 'grown up' way than I should have expected from a not-yet-2-year-old.  I'm not proud of these feelings, but I think they are probably normal and I have been trying really hard to combat these feelings by putting Audrey down at certain times a day so that I can spend some proper one-on-one time with Clara.

Interestingly, Brian's feelings about Clara have not changed at all, but his feelings toward Audrey are different than his feelings with Clara were. He has never been a 'baby' person, and he wasn't excited about doing the 'infant' thing all over again - I can respect that.  When we had Clara, however, he didn't have any other children to compare her too and despite the fact that he didn't really LOVE dealing with her colick, and diaper changing, and the fact that she didn't react at all when he made funny faces at her, he loved her to bits and she was his DAUGHTER.  With Audrey, however, he feels more irritated by her fussing than he ever was with Clara, because now he has a super-fun-and-exciting toddler to compare her to, and Audrey just really isn't as fun to him.  I get that also, and I know that he still loves Audrey to pieces.  I think it's good too, that we both recognize these differences so that we can make a conscious effort to spend our time with each daughter, so hopefully if we have an obvious 'Daddy's Girl' and 'Mommy's Girl', it won't be because we treated them differently.

Clara still loves her baby sister.  We were having some behavior issues with her a week ago, but since Brian has gone back to work and I began babysitting again (so she had her friend to play with), and her routine has started to return to what she knows, she has actually been a lot better.  She talks about Audrey all the time, and constantly wants to touch her and hold her.  She does sometimes struggle with 'sharing' things with Audrey - like her crib and high chair, and is a bit overly concerned over whether or not something is hers (That's Mine!!!) or Audrey's, but she has never asked us to put Audrey down or seemed jealous if we are spending a lot of time dealing with Audrey.  I am sooo glad for this!

Audrey is definitely turning out to be 'suckier' than Clara ever was.  Although Clara was colicky until she was six weeks old, we learned quickly that there was nothing we could give her that would help her.  It didn't matter how much I fed her, how much she was held, whether she was burped constantly or given oval or colick medications; she didn't want to be swaddled, and didn't seem to care if her diaper was clean or dirty - she just cried.  Audrey fusses predictably for a couple of hours in the evening, but it seems directly related to gas and although it's often difficult to get her to pass this gas, she will settle down afterward and be relatively amiable until the next day when her fussy-gassy time comes again. 

Unless we put her down.

I recognized when Audrey was still in utero that she was probably going to be a 'cuddlier' kid. How did I know? Well, I didn't 'know', but I suspected partly because I was hoping for a 'cuddler', and she did some things differently than Clara did.

1. Audrey didn't stretch out as much as Clara had in utero.  Clara was often stretching in such a way that seemed as though she was trying to make herself as straight as possible.  Audrey would stretch a bit, but it would involve just her legs - I assume she remained bent at the waist, and only stretched her legs out a bit.

2. Audrey didn't seem to mind having her space crowded.  I remember with Clara, if I sat too close to a table or something, and my belly was at all pressed on by anything, Clara would continuously kick at that location until I moved away from whatever was crowding her space.  She also responded quickly if I pushed on or poked at my belly.  Audrey didn't do this - she didn't seem to care if my belly was leaning against anything else, and I even caught myself sleeping almost entirely on my belly a few times, and she never seemed to mind.  She was also much more difficult to 'wake up' if I was concerned that she hadn't moved in awhile and tried to wake her by poking and prodding at my belly. 

Now that Audrey is 'out', my suspicions have been confirmed.  Despite the fact that I don't actually carry Audrey around as much as I expected I would, I do wear her in a carrier occasionally, and she is perfectly comfortable in it.  If I tried to wear Clara in a carrier, she would freak out about being held too tightly and never settled down.  Clara was also more comfortable from birth on a flat surface than Audrey has been.  If I lay Audrey down in her crib or bassinet, she doesn't completely settle, whereas she is better in a car seat or the high chair (which sits her in a similar position to her carseat), and she is always MOST comfortable if she is being held.  I've actually given up trying to make her sleep in her bassinet for the time being, because I get much more sleep if she sleeps in bed with me. I NEVER thought I would do this, but I'll get into that maybe another time.

Audrey is also much less concerned about noise than Clara ever was.  When Clara was born, I was advised to continue life as usual, and not to do things like 'keeping the house silent' when she was napping, because then she would always need silence to nap, etc. and we would always be walking on eggshells.  I think this was great advice, and definitely true for families who often listen to music and don't want that to change.  I wish I had maybe been more attuned to this when Clara was an infant, because our home is actually quite musical - however, after she was born, I found that finding music to play, creating a playlist or choosing cd's was just another thing to do and so our home actually remained quite silent most of the time and after awhile we found ourselves actually trying to 'not make a sound' after Clara was put down for a nap. It became nearly impossible for Clara to sleep if we had company because she did become used to silence.  This was annoying, but I had to realize that our home really was generally quiet, so I couldn't expect her to expect anything different.  Audrey, however, has become very accustomed to loud, sudden noises and doesn't seem bothered by either.  I know that now she is an infant, and this could change - but I suspect that the noise level in our house will remain louder than it ever was when Clara was a baby, and Audrey will adapt to that.

I could probably blog forever about the differences I've experienced with parenting both girls at this age, but for now I'll end there. I have heard some mothers say their babies were like night and day different from birth, and some mothers who say their babies were actually very much the same.  In some ways I can say both about my girls so far, and in some of these ways I think their differences/similarities are affected by how we are treating them the same/differently, and in some ways they are affected by their personalities.  And some things I have absolutely no idea about!

Can you tell I'm on Cloud 9?

The one thing I think at this point - when it comes to parenting, I will never be an expert, and it doesn't matter how many children I have or how long I have been a mother.  I think I could have 12 children and although some things would get easier, and I would get better at recognizing certain things - there would always be things that would be so much different because of each child's personality and because of the circumstances each child is born into - nothing is ever really 'the same'.

How were your babies the same or different? Did you recognize their differences or similarities as being part of their personalities, or a result of how you parented them, or their situation?

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 11:14

Big Sister Clara

When I first started thinking ahead to when my second baby would be born, and realized that my first baby would still be less than 2 years old at that time, I started planning how to make this transition for Clara as easy as possible.

First, we planned some of her big 'changes' to be as far away from the time of Audrey's birth as we could. 

We introduced the toddler bed to Clara's room in August - which we felt was still a bit young for Clara, but she needed to move before Audrey needed it and we thought it would be easiest to have it available to her before she was even aware of another baby. This one was easy - Clara was so excited to have the toddler bed, that she moved into it the night we moved it in and has never looked back to her crib.

We weren't thinking about potty training until Clara started having tantrums  while changing her diapers and WANTED to start using the potty, so we got that (mostly) done ahead of time also.

We would like to wean her from her soother (or, 'gummy' as she calls it for a reason unknown to us) in the not-too-distant-future, but we plan to wait on that now until at least after Christmas.

Other than that, the biggest thing I did to (try to) prepare Clara was to talk about the baby. She moved into a toddler bed, and I would mention occasionally how 'the baby' would sleep in the crib.  I would tell her there was a baby in my belly, and if we ever saw a newborn out in 'the real world' (a place I don't venture to often) I would remind her of the baby in my belly and tell her that baby was going to come out soon.  She seemed to 'get' this on some level, and even started hugging and kissing my belly, which was adorable.  We also had a book we read to Clara often (and she became quite obsessed with it), that talked about a little girl who's mother left her house for a couple of days and returned with a baby - I would read it to her and draw all of the parallels I could find.

Clara and Audrey's First Meeting

Then I planned for the introduction itself. Clara was used to staying over night with her Grandparents by now, so I didn't worry about this being stressful for her.

I was determined, however, that Clara was to be the FIRST visitor at the hospital to see her new baby sister. Brian's parents brought her to the hospital, and then they waited for about half an hour to give us a chance to introduce the girls.

I made a point of repeatedly telling Clara that the baby in my belly was Audrey, and now she's out - I have no idea if she understands, but it's worth a try, right?

Clara was so excited to see Audrey. Her voice has developed into the highest possible human registers (sometimes I'm sure only dogs can hear her), and she squealed 'BABY!' repeatedly to anyone around. She will also announce 'Tha's Audjee' to new visitors.

When we got home from the hospital, we sent Clara with Brian's parents again to meet us there.  Brian and I stopped for cupcakes on our way for 'Audrey' to bring to her big sister. We brought them in and told Clara 'look what Audrey brought for you', and the first thing Clara did was pick up a cupcake and try to give it to Audrey.

She loved 'holding' Audrey, and will frequently announce 'I 'old 'er' to us and sit down on the couch with her arms outstretched towards Audrey.

She will then lean forward to kiss Audrey, and squeal 'Hey, Babeeee!' (highest possible registers), and occasionally poke her in the eye.

Not to say she hasn't been jealous, because her behaviour since Audrey's birth has been trying at the best of times. Luckily, however, she doesn't seem to have realized that Audrey is the cause of all of the upheaval in our home.  Brian has been home for almost two weeks now, and Clara is loving the attention but it has definitely thrown off her regular schedule. 

Suddenly, she seems hyper-active almost all the time, and has started defying us in ways she never did before.  Putting her to bed at night used to be a breeze - now she will run around the house trying to escape us, saying 'I don't want to nap!'

I have also noticed my feelings toward Clara have changed. I feel awful admitting this, but I'm hoping that maybe it's at least a little bit normal.

Clara is no longer 'my baby', and that place has now been taken by someone else. As a mother, I think my primary response now is to protect 'my baby' above all others (this is my theory about why my feelings toward Clara have changed - I don't know if it's accurate or not).  With Clara's sudden hyper-activity, I perceive her as a potential threat to 'my baby', and I suddenly find myself wary of her.

I still love her to death, but my patience for her is much thinner, and I find myself wanting her to be kept away from me (and Audrey, who is often in my arms).  I realized this change of behaviour (in myself) a couple of days ago, and since then I have made a point of putting Audrey down sometimes so that I can spend time with Clara without worrying about Audrey getting kicked in the head or poked in the eye with a crayon.  This has helped a lot, I think, and gives me a chance to really spend time with Clara - which has been difficult for the last month or so.

How did you (or do you plan to) prepare your children for younger siblings? How did they react? Did you find your feelings toward your older child changing somewhat when younger siblings were born?

Published in Blog

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