Today’s guest post has been written by Lea, a wonderful woman whom I met through our antenatal group way back in 2011. Lea and her husband Chris have two beautiful daughters, Mathilda (2) and Nellie (12 weeks). Lea writes about her experience of welcoming their second child into their lives and the effect it had on them all.
On Wednesday 16th October 2013, our second daughter Nellie Beatrice was born. I experienced a totally different set of feelings and emotions compared to when I gave birth to our first daughter, Mathilda.
With Mathilda I had a few complications afterwards and it took some time for us to bond, but with Nellie I loved her unconditionally as soon as I saw her. Both Chris and I were as nervous as first time parents; could we remember how to look after a newborn? But quickly our confidence returned and after only a matter of days we got to know Nellie’s cries and how to respond to her needs. However the real challenge this time was not just having our skills put to the test with one little baby, we also had to make sure we fulfilled Mathilda’s needs as an inquisitive 2-year-old toddler.
During my pregnancy we started talking to Mathilda about the new brother or sister she was going to have once. We bought a book about a house inside mummy’s tummy and we read it to her daily. She, of course, found it hard to understand what we were talking about until nearer the time of Nellie’s birth date. One example of her confusion was when I dropped her off at her Great Granddad’s house, somewhere she visits every Wednesday. I left her explaining I would be back later to collect her. Whilst I was away my husband’s cousin visited with her 6 week old baby girl, Georgia. I returned later to collect her and my mother-in-law informed me that Mathilda had become upset asking where I was when Georgia arrived. It appeared that she thought I had gone away and that the baby had suddenly arrived in the form of Georgia. When you think about it, it must be totally confusing for a 2-year-old to comprehend what it means to have a sister or brother and how their life as they know it will change.
After I had given birth to Nellie, Mathilda visited me in hospital the following day. She was so excited to meet her little sister and gave her a big cuddle and a kiss. She kept stroking her leg and pointing out her body parts and seemed amazed that they were the same parts as she had. Mathilda clearly loved Nellie from the start and it was a joy and a relief to see.
We were worried that Mathilda might be jealous of the attention Nellie would get and how she would cope with having to wait for things instead of expecting things to be done instantly. I had read horror stories about siblings being jealous of their new sister or brother and how they had started to act out just to get their parents attention. I knew Mathilda had a big heart and I really hoped things would turn out well. In fact it was harder for me than it was for Mathilda. I worried about how I would spend time with both of them individually, and also together. I tried to fathom how I could fulfil both their needs without seeming to favour one over the other, but of course my attention had to go to Nellie initially for the first few weeks as she was a little baby.
It turns out we needn’t have worried at all as Mathilda took to Nellie like a duck takes to water. We made sure we involved her in caring for Nellie, Mathilda would happily fetching nappies for Nellie, put cream on her bottom, help wind her and sing songs to soothe her.
We are so proud of how Mathilda has welcomed Nellie into our family. She often tells me how beautiful Nellie is and that she loves her so much. It brings tears to my eyes watching them be together and now Nellie is producing the most wonderful smiles, well it’s magical to watch her face light up when Mathilda talks to her.
Mathilda loves cuddling and kissing family and friends and Nellie is no exception to this. Nellie gets cuddled and kissed by Mathilda at least 10 times a day. Also after asking Mathilda a million or so times not to squeeze Nellie when she gets excited, she has finally got the message. Adult legs or the nearest large object tend to get the full Mathilda squeeze experience until she has calmed down a bit then she returns her arms to Nellie. Mathilda loves introducing Nellie to new people and proudly smiles as she tells them this is her little sister Nellie. But it’s not all happy siblings playing in harmony, there are times when Nellie does her, “oh dear Mathilda is coming towards me and is going to disturb my peace” face, (usually when Mathilda climbs over her on the couch to lie next to her to cuddle) and Mathilda can also get quite jealous of the attention that Nellie is getting, usually when Nellie is sitting on Nanny or Granny’s lap. And talking of laps, Mathilda loves Nellie sitting on her lap but isn’t that keen on the fluid situation that comes with being a newborn. She doesn’t like it if she sees milk seeping from Nellie’s mouth or if Nellie decides to poo in her nappy whilst sitting on her big sister. When this has happened Mathilda acted like she was completely fine with being poo’d on but then gave Nellie a firm shove, exerted the elder sister authority and decided that was the end of their sibling cuddling session.
It may sound like we have had the perfect transition from one child to two but it is hard work and there are of course good days and bad. There are days when I just burst into tears from frustration at trying to stop Nellie screaming when she has wind, whilst at the same time trying not to shout at Mathilda when she asks me to put Nellie down and get her breakfast. And then there are the good, no the great days, when I remember how lucky we are to have two amazing happy and healthy little girls. We always knew we wanted to have two children and had hoped to have them at least two years apart, as it happens we were only a month out.
Now she is here I honestly think Nellie couldn’t have asked for a better sister than Mathilda. We can’t wait to watch them grow up together and to see Mathilda teach Nellie everything she knows, both good and bad, to watch them play together and hopefully be there for each other throughout their lives.
Thank you Lea for sharing your family’s story.
Thanks for reading
Mummy over and out