Monday, September 8, 2014

Transitions

Juliana's baby brother was born eight days before her third birthday. I wasn't entirely sure how I would manage the unique needs of three children, but I was pretty sure that I would figure it out in time. I also told myself repeatedly that a healthy newborn is an easy newborn. If I wasn't having to insert an NG tube down his nose, then how hard could it be, really? And so it was that I was completely relaxed - almost to a fault - about adding another child to our family.

I underestimated a little bit. It is much, much, much easier to have a healthy newborn, but it is still a hard transition. I forgot that in the week following birth my body feels like it's been run over by a truck. I forgot that my older kids can only go so long without me before they start to crack. I forgot that my husband would go back to work before I was ready. I forgot that even an "easy" baby has many needs.

Despite being pulled in three directions, despite having only one child who can walk, and despite a full therapy schedule, we've really transitioned very well. For the first month or so I had helpers to take Juliana to therapy and Calvin to his homeschool class (thanks mom and dad!). After that I was itching to get back to our routine. It took some time to figure out, and in the beginning there were places that I absolutely could not go unless David was also with us. I'm happy to say that now we can go almost anywhere!


When I was pregnant with Juliana, and later after she was born, I was always concerned about how Calvin was handling everything. After all it seemed like a big deal to go from only child to sibling, particularity when we went from "normality" to a demanding therapy/doctor schedule. It's easy to forget now, but at the time Calvin was a major impetus at striving for normality. He kept me going through some very difficult days. So I was always extremely mindful of him and how he was handling the stress that our family was experiencing.

This time around? Crazily enough, it never even occurred to me that Juliana might have trouble transitioning. My only thought was that she likes babies. And I think that subconsciously I thought that she already had a sibling, so what's the big deal? Let's just say that only now, after having three children, do I finally understand the effects of birth order! Calvin was enamored with his brother from the beginning and has been almost entirely unaffected by the change. Juliana went through a month or two where she was very clingy but now she too has mostly adapted. The one exception: she still likes it when "Daddy [or anyone] holds Charlie, Mommy holds Nany" (her nickname for herself, pronounced "nah-nee"). Despite being kicked out of her position in the family, Juliana is very fond of Charlie. She likes to hold him and hug him and I have to keep an eye on her to make sure that she is not too overzealous in her love. She is a good big sister.

Another huge difference this time around is my expectations of Juliana versus my expectations of Calvin when he was a similar age. When Juliana was a baby, I remember holding Calvin when I could since he also was still my baby (I even mentioned this here). It's the total opposite with Juliana, I am always making her walk because she needs the practice. This discrepancy occurred to me just a few weeks ago and now I'm trying to make up for it in other ways. Even in other areas, I feel that David and I have very high expectations of Juliana and I'm just not sure that we had the same expectations with Calvin. I don't think this is a bad thing at all - in a lot of ways she can meet or exceed our expectations and I think that's really important given the low expectations that can come with a diagnosis such as hers. Still, I do have to be very mindful of not continually pushing her. I have to remind myself that she is just three - still pretty little, even if she has already accomplished many great things in her lifetime. Sometimes she wants to be carried and that's what I need to do.

I am really thrilled that Juliana has two brothers to grow up with, to play with, to learn with. And I'm so thankful that they have her, too... despite her birth order, she is the bossy one and she helps keep these boys in line.




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