From Baby to Brother

I spent 4 days in the hospital following my c-section delivery of Baby Sawyer.  Every time Lil W came to visit he avoided eye contact, refused to give me a hug and clung to his Daddy for dear life.  Seeing me in a hospital gown with tubes coming out of my body was a bit traumatic for him.  And as much as it made my heart ache, I was prepared for this reaction.

I knew our transition from a family of three to a family of four would not be seamless when Lil W started chanting “No baby, No baby, No baby” for the last 3 months of my pregnancy.  I knew things might be tough when Wesley started knocking over piles of Sawyers baby toys, or when he squeezed himself into a 3 month onesie and wore it for the rest of the day, or when he insisted on testing out the baby crib for himself.

He wasn’t ready to share our attention, our love, our time, our home.

The day we brought Sawyer home from the hospital proved to be exhausting–to say the least. It was everything we could do to keep Wesley from clunking Sawyer on his soft spot with a toy car, from putting a blanket over his face, and from nearly knocking over his wicker bassinet. The “No baby, No baby” chant even started up again. Ultimately, Ben and I ended up on separate ends of the house.  Me upstairs with the baby, Ben downstairs entertaining Wesley.

Our intention was not to spoil Wesley, or to give in to his demands.
Our intention was to make sure he knew that he would still be loved to the moon and back.
To make sure he knew that while everything was different, nothing had changed when it came to his security and his role in our family.
A week went by, and temper tantrum after temper tantrum forced Ben and I to continue living in separate rooms so that little Sawyer could have some measure of peace in his first weeks of life.

Those first two weeks were long.
And there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
And there were tears. Tears of fear that this is how our lives would be from now on.

As much as I was cherishing my bonding moments with Sawyer,
I missed my little boy–my Wesley.
I missed cuddling him on the couch.
I missed his belly laugh and his slobbery kisses.
I missed giving him a bath.
I missed tucking him in at night.
I missed being his Momma.

I wanted them both.
Sawyer and Wesley.
Together.
In the same room.
In peace.
But Wesley wasn’t ready for that.

My visions of them cuddling on the couch and sharing a bowl of popcorn together,
of the four of us watching a movie every Friday night,
of Sunday family naps in the living room…
these visions of the future were seeming like less of a reality with each passing day.
My surge of post-pregnancy hormones contributed to the sense of defeat that overwhelmed my heart.
I felt helpless.

One night, after a long and emotional family prayer, I lifted my head and looked at Ben with a feeling of quiet resolve.
Me: I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but we’re going to be okay. This is going to get easier. We just need to endure for a short time. Wesley will come around, I just know it. We need to be patient with him. Thank you for enduring with me Benny.

Then I gave him a quick kiss and fell asleep with a sense of peace that in the Lords time we would be able to cuddle on the couch as a family without a meltdown and without fear that Lil W would retaliate against the baby.

For the next few days I took a breath and allowed myself to enjoy my alone time with Sawyer. To soak in his smells and sounds and squishy skin.  I forced myself to not stress about my time away from Wesley, and to keep the faith that I would be cuddling with him again very soon.

And you know what?
The more at peace I became, the more peace that entered our home.
Day by day, and even hour by hour, Lil W started to warm up to the idea of welcoming the newest member of our family.

He stopped his anti-baby chanting.
He began to ask to hold little Sawyer.
To give him his binky–gently even.
He started walking around the house saying,
Don’t drop the baby.
And, Baby is so cute.
And, Gentle with the baby.
Apparently these were things I was saying a lot, and Lil W’s sweet verbal reminders were proof that he was listening.
That he was growing.
That he was becoming interested in having Sawyer around.

One day I woke up to Wesley pushing a clean newborn diaper in my face.
W: Change brothers diaper Mommy. Change brothers diaper.
And as ridiculous as this may sound, tears ran down my cheeks when I heard his words.
You see, this was the first time that Wesley had called Sawyer his “brother” rather than “baby”.
My heart was full, and in that moment I knew my prayers had been answered.

Now, nearly four weeks after Sawyers birth, we still have a long way to go.
But one thing is for certain–Wesley is now head over heals for his baby brother.
He insists on holding him, kissing him, shoving binkies in his mouth, and being Mommy’s lil helper.
He wants him around. And as a Mom, there really isn’t more I could wish for.

******

Any more tips on helping your kiddo adjust to a new baby in the home? I could use them!

Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

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Comments

  1. This post is like reading about myself 5 months ago! When we introduced Aaron (then aged 2 years 10 months) to baby Rosa he gave her a big cuddle and kiss and we thought “this is going to be great”.

    Then for the next four weeks he virtually ignored her – when he wasn’t ignoring her my husband and I found ourselves shouting before he jumped on her or bashed her with a toy. I didn’t want my son around and it felt awful.

    But when my husband went back to work and it was suddenly just the three of us at home, Aaron’s behaviour changed. Knowing there wasn’t an extra adult to occupy him, and coinciding with his little sister smiling and cooing, he suddenly started to show an interest. He’d translate her noises into words – “Mummy – baby Rosa’s saying she needs her bottle!”..

    5 months on their relationship is blossoming. He runs in to her room in the mornings as soon as he hears her, and I’ve learned to let him be alone with her for a few moments without panicking that I’ll find lego stuffed up her nose and in her ears! He shares the toys he now knows are appropriate for her. He does climb on her, and he can be rough with her, but now she’s a bit more robust I know having a big brother Rosa is going to have to learn to deal with rough and tumble!

    So my advice – time will get everything back on the right track. Don’t expect too much of your toddler too quickly. Oh, and instinctively you’ll know when your newborn is big enough for big brother squeezes. Before long Wesley will be like a third parent in the house! xx

    • Praise the Lord for Peace Right?!
      In addition to having to worry about lil’ W and Sawyer you had hormones and sleep deprivation adding to these anxious thoughts! My second will be here in about 7 weeks…My first is 2…Its nice to know I wont be alone in my feelings too!

  2. I can completely relate to this. My daughter went through a very hard time when we had our son. I was devastated that she wanted nothing to do with the baby or me. http://thelifeofjenniferdawn.blogspot.com/2011/10/bringing-home-baby.html

    It sounds like with patience, understanding, and prayer…he is coming around. I can promise you from experience that it does get better. My daughter adores her baby brother now and loves to help take care of him. What a long way we have come! There are still days of jealously. There are still days when she needs a mommy day where we leave baby brother with daddy and have an outing–just the two of us. There are days that she gets annoyed at him, but I know that she has grown to love him as much as we do.

    I’m glad to hear that Lil W is coming around. He is going to make a terrific big brother!

  3. oh your heart must well up with so much love and joy when you see the two together now! Praise God! Keep trusting in Him through all of the other struggles – it’s amazing how He comes in when we surrender control

  4. Oh my gosh, you had tears welling up in my eyes at the end of this. I’m sure that has to be a tough situation and I often worry about that when we decide to have our second child. You said it all beautifully though, as always, and definitely make me hopeful that our son would eventually warm up to the thought of sharing his home with another child. 🙂

    Blessings your way! Take care of those little cuties!

  5. In our experience you are doing the right thing, by letting him help. The more that ours felt involved with they new addition the more willing they were to bond with them and accept them as their sibling. I am so glad that you were able to feel peace and to have the faith that the Lord would handle this one in Wesley’s time frame, it is so precious to know how intimately he knows each of us and cares so much about what we need and desire each day.
    Enjoy your boys Mom things will get easier 🙂

  6. We started this same journey 9 months ago with our little Wesley, and baby sister Penny. It HAS gotten easier in some ways, but at the same time difficult in others. He no longer fears the attention and love lost, but as she becomes more mobile and interested in him, he has gotten more aggressive in defending his toys. But there are times, in the car or when she’s crawling around the floor, when he calls to her “chase me baby” or “i make baby laugh? I made Pendy laugh mama!”. He calls her “sweethawt” and tells me whenever she wakes up from her nap.
    In the beginning it was alot of just doing whatever he was doing when she napped. Playing trains, or watching his favorite shows. I would take him with me when i ran to the store, maybe sneaking in a little toy here or there, or getting a treat with taking care of his sister really helped too. Now he asks at every diaper change if she has a rash! Asking him to help EVERYONE has this adjustment with sibblings, even with the 4th, 5th or 8th! But soon they’ll be best friends soon! I always tell my Wesley to be good to his sister now, because when she has cute friends in 15 years you’ll wish you were nicer to her 🙂 You’re doing a fantastic job mama!

  7. What a sweetheart! He’s going to be such a great big brother 🙂

  8. Best advice I ever got when baby number two showed up? Make child number 1 think that child number 2 is theirs. Let them introduce baby to people. Let them show visitors the new baby’s room. Let them help you pick the diaper, the binky, the blankie, the EVERYTHING. Let them pack the diaper bag. Let them help you decide when to change the baby and what outfit to put on. I did this. It was hard. I let my oldest do EVERYTHING (within reason–no diapers or bathing alone!!!) for the younger for the first few weeks. And you know what? They’re 6 and 3 1/2 now and they can’t live without each other for two seconds. And while that drives me insane sometimes, I remind myself that this is what I always wanted and never had–A SISTERLY BOND.

    And remember, the first few months are hard for EVERYONE. You will get through it.

    Give the babies a snuggle from me. :0)

  9. going from one baby to two was so hard. I felt guilty.
    I was so worried about each of their feelings. I was so worried that big brother might kill baby sister by accident. I think you hit the nail on the head though. They can feel your anxiety. Crazy but true.
    You are going to do great and they are going to do great too!

  10. oh praise the Lord!!!! Don’t you love when prayers are answered like that. Makes my heart so full of joy. Things will continue to get better, and you’ll probably have more days where W isn’t so keen on S – and that’s okay. There are still days like that in our home. I’m afraid our youngest is going to react that way to the girls when they get here. My oldest is 3 and every since he was 15 months old he’s had his brother around so things won’t be too different – plus he adapts to big changes better than our youngest.
    If you get more tips – please share so I can refer back in a few weeks!!
    xoxo

  11. THank you for sharing your story! I have a 4 year old son and will be welcoming our second son in September via c-section. I am very nervous about how my son will react to seeing me in the hospital and I’m worried about how he will react when we bring his baby brother home. But it’s great and reassuring to read someone elses journey.

  12. So sorry for your tough time but so glad that thing are going well. Good luck and hope all keeps getting better.

  13. Oh..what a sweet honest post. I remember those feelings as well. My oldest (Wesley- lol just like yours. 😉 ) loved his baby brother from the start. I remember being so worried though and so concerned that Wesley would feel abandoned. God’s plan is always perfect though and everything seems to work according to His plan in time. Thanks for your honesty. I am sure so many moms feel the same way you do and willa ppreciate the feeling that they are not alone. 😉 On a complete side not. I am in love with your white and yellow blanket….where did you get it? Or maybe you made and in that case where did you get the fabric?

  14. Thank you for this post. I am expecting my 2nd baby boy in 10 weeks and Logan my 3 yr old seems excited but I fear for what his true reaction will be. I have been living in denial that he will just be perfect with the new baby but deep down I know it will be hard.

    Thanks for the Reality Check, I needed it!

    Jessica

  15. Love this post. I definitely look forward to seeing Madelyn transition from the only child to big sister when little Jax gets here. I am nervous but excited all that the same time. She is an only child… on her mother’s side and the father’s [our] side. So, she doesn’t have much experience at all with other children. She will learn. Like I said above, I loveddd this post! Thank you!

    ps. where did you find that adorable yellow chevron blanket?

    – Mandy
    thedupreesandbaby.blogspot.com

  16. We bring baby boy home tomorrow and I’m looking forward to big brother spending time with him. Baby has been in the NICU for 2 weeks so he’s met him but now he gets to come home.. We will wait and see! Your boys are adorable

  17. “change brother’s diaper” got me teary!!! Love them both!

  18. This got me teary eyed! What a beautiful experience, and so great to see your faith in Heavenly Father and the patience & answers that came directly from prayer. Wesley is a good big brother and you are a great mama! 🙂

  19. SO sweet…I treared up…first at the pics before I even READ the post and then after! Wes is so sweet with such a big heart…I am sure it was a big adjustment but they will be best friends and love eachother! You and Ben are amazing parents and there is SO much love in your house! xoxo

  20. I can’t remember how close your two are in age, mine were 20 months. My oldest went from being the happiest little barnacle buddy of mine, to shooting me angry pursed lip faces 24/7. Luckily we had my Mom staying with us for a few weeks to make her feel special. Things definitely got better quickly-by the time the little one was 6-7 months they were best buds. But there will be little awful moments unfortunatley-big sister scratched up little sis’s arms on the 16 hr car ride when we moved. But for the most part things get easier fast. AND, my oldest doesn’t even remember a time before her little sis! (Whereas my older brother always joked about the good ol’ days before I came along). Mine are 10 1/2 and 12 now and they fight, but also like each other and play together.

  21. What a great experience!

  22. Aww, this is so sweet! It’s a hard adjustment for everyone, but in time they will form such a strong bond. My son (4) and daughter (1) love each other so much, it just melts my heart. One thing we try to do is take the older one out for an occasional mommy-son or daddy-son date, so he gets his own time and feels special. It’s so easy to make it all about the baby, especially in the beginning. Just taking an hour or two to get ice cream or go to the park is really great for both of us!

  23. Thank you so much for sharing this. We are expecting twin boys at the end of Sept & have a 2 and a half year old girl at home. I am so nervous for what the transition will be like for her & stay up many nights just praying over her (as she sleeps on a pallet in our room becuase she no longer wants to sleep in her own bed). Already made note of this post to serve as a reminder that it will be ok & it will get better no matter what. Will be praying for sweet W and mama, daddy & baby S as well.

  24. This post hits home to me. My second daughter was born three days after my oldest daughter’s second birthday. The first couple of months were so hard. I cried on the phone to my mom daily. Our oldest was acting out in every way possible. Then I received an amazing piece of advice from a mother of 5. She asked me if I ever told my oldest I couldn’t play with her or help her “because I’m feeding the baby” or “because I have to hold the baby”. I said of course! I want her to understand why I can’t do things with her. Well, the wise mom told me to stop that immediately. With me telling my daughter she had to wait for ‘play dough’ because I was feeding her sister, she was associating the fact that mom can’t do fun things with me because of baby sister. So I stopped doing that and would just tell her to wait 5 minutes if I was feeding/changing/burping the baby. I completely stopped telling her I couldn’t do things because I was busy with the baby. And what do you know, she stopped hitting the baby and started loving on her. The change was instant. My littlest is 4 months now and things are getting so much easier 🙂 Good luck and God bless! Remember that these phases are not permanent. You can do it!

  25. Oh this sounds ALL to familiar. Jack had a hard time with kaden coming home. He wouldn’t come near me when I was holding the baby and oh the temper tantrums! It was rough and then one day I was rocking baby kaden and jack climbed up one my lap too and I knew that he had finally forgiven me for having another baby. Breaks your heart when your baby won’t come to you anymore 🙁 but this time around both boys were in love with Riley from the start. So next time it won’t be so bad 🙂 I would also recommend taking Wes places by himself ( just you and him) too, and tell hiim that he gets to come with you because he is a big boy and the baby is too little and has to stay home sometimes. Thats when jack started to get much easier running errands because he was sick of being coped up in the house and if I took him by himself he got my undivided attention which he was missing since the baby came home. Good luck! Our houghhts and prayers are with you guys! Love you.

  26. I am 4 months pregnant with my second baby and I have the same fears. Thank you for posting this. I see a light of peace in my heart now. I know it is not easy but possible. You are so sweet to share this. Thank you!!!! Thank you!!!

    Ps. Where did you find that adorable yellow chevron blanket?

  27. Shirley Lupton says:

    I had a different problem with my children. My son was 13 months old and he couldn’t keep his hands off of his new baby sister. I was very blessed but I had to watch very close because he wanted his sister to play. He would put toys in her bassinet so she could play. I was so afraid he was going to hurt her. I learned to show “no fear” in front of him but to explain that she was too little to play with big brothers toys. I had to wedge the bassinet between the bed and a dresser so he wouldn’t tip it over because he would try to see her sleep. They are both still special friends, spouses and all. Sweetie, it will be okay. Just remember your body has gone through so much with the C-section and healing. With God on your side it will be fine. Our prayers are offered each night for you.

  28. I’m sure my comment will get lost amongst the others, but this put tears in my eyes. I’m so glad Wes is coming around to the idea of a little brother.

  29. Sounds like you guys are doing awesome- congrats! The best advice I recieved when we went from 1 to 2 kiddos was from my husband’s grandmother, who had 7 kiddos in 6 years (all kids 12-13 mo. apart with a set of twins thrown in the mix!)…she told me to take care of my oldest first and then attend to the needs of the baby. That seemed a little counter-intuitive to me, but she explained that my oldest (our daughter was 2 years, 9 months when her baby bro came along) would know if baby brother was getting attended to first and would be very sensitive to his addition to our family and how that would impact her role in the family in every way, but that my infant son would be just fine if he had to wait a few extra min. to be fed or rocked, and that it would give our daughter an opportunity to help care for her baby brother with me. It really helped us in the transition and it is a joy and a blessing to see your kiddos become the best of friends and playmates 🙂

  30. I clung to every word of this post. You have some kind of power with words. You are a real writer!

    So glad that things are working out with Wesley & Sawyer. Those pictures are breath-taking!

  31. So glad that things are getting better with Wesley & Sawyer. Those pictures are breath-taking!

  32. Alyssa Bresnan says:

    My daughter had a hard time adjusting to a new baby as well! Now two years later they are inseparable (most of the time) there is a great book called “Julius, the baby of the world” by: Kevin Henke that really helped! It’s still one of our favorite books I recommend it to EVERYONE having a second child!

  33. Ohhhh, that picture of them together just melts my heart. Thank you for being so honest and open, Ashley. I’m sending a virtual hug your way….feel that?? That’s me admiring you and thinking you’re amazing, as usual! 🙂

  34. I’ve never seen a prettier child than wesley. I’m sure you get told that a lot. He is stunning. I had two babies close together (18 months) and something that I’ve done from day one is say a prayer with them after daddy goes to work. We pray that we will get along and take care of each other and have a fun day…etc. I don’t know why it works but it does and we really notice a difference on the days we don’t pray. They are a little older now (31/2 & 2) and they say the prayers by themselves and I’ve also taught them to pray together when they are fighting. They are distracted long enough that they forget what they are fighting about 🙂
    Your boys will love each other-just hang in there 🙂

  35. Ohh Ashley, I am sure that was so hard for you. So glad that Wesley is loving on his brother now!! I wish I had any tips, but I’m not a momma quite yet. I just wanted to tell you what an amazing job you do… You handle this momma this with such grace!

  36. You’re one tough momma. It takes time. I remember when my parents brought my brother home from the hospital, I really really didn’t want him at home. I felt left out, although my parents tried to make sure that I wasn’t. I don’t remember when it all changed but one day it just did. And I protected him through bullies, and heartbreak. He was my husband’s best man at our wedding, and he is my best friend today. So although the beginning was a little rough, the end is completely worth it.

  37. I am a social worker and have a huge background in child development, and while I’m not a mamma yet, I’ve given this advice to dozens and it’s proven so far to be foolproof. The more you ask baby W For advice on what to do, the better he will adjust to his role as big brother. Ask him his opinion on things like “what we should dress baby Sawyer in today, cause you’ve already learned so much about how to get dressed and S Doesn’t know these things yet, so can you help find him something to wear to go to the park in, or what to wear cause it will be chilly today” or”what should we feed baby S today? Do you think he’d want the bananas or the carrots today?” (I know he’s not eating solids yet but you get the idea) or, what color should we paint his room or how should we arrange his furniture or what sheets should we put in his crib? Etc… In other words your changing Westleys role from old dog to the one with all the superior knowledge and know how cause he’s already so experienced in life. As he lives that role, he’ll love being the older bro and making all the decisions. Plus give him extra privileges like baby S has to go to bed now but you’re such a big boy you get to stay up an extra hour, or whatever… That’s the best way to keep the older kid from feeling threatened by new baby. Like I said, it’s foolproof in those clients of mine who’ve tried it. Lmk how it goes, blog about it maybe? Love your blog!

  38. When our daughter was born, our son HATED every minute of visiting at the hospital, and the first few days at home were brutal. As much as it pained me, when she was asleep during the day for those first few weeks, I devoted every second to him. The cleaning, cooking- it all waited. I gave him that alone time he so desperately wanted, and then he was able to trust that this baby wasn’t totally taking over. Those photos are precious! 🙂

  39. So touching, it made me cry. I am so glad things worked out. God always answers.

    xoxo,

    Misty

  40. What a precious face and lovely picture of both. God is love. I am so touched and wonder if I was that perceptive when mine were little.

  41. Super cute little boys! That baby is cuter in real life. On another note…I need that yellow blanket. Where is it from?

    P.S- I met you last week (Gillian’s fabulous sister-in-law)

  42. Love this entry! I’m currently pregnant with our 2nd child. My son, Ethan, is already sensing there is a change in the horizon. Very clingy. Very needy. Very snuggly. I will need to remember to keep calm and allow God to bring peace over my fears that may interrupt the harmony in the home. Thank you.

    Enjoy reading your posts 🙂

  43. Great post! It really hit home with me, I was right there with you when we brought our second daughter home. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t an apathetic toddler!

    Time definitely helped the situation a lot, and the Hubs & I created special “big sister” jobs for Little O to help out with. She handed me wipes when I changed Baby H’s diaper, was in charge of locating burp cloths during feedings, proudly went on “blanket patrol” to make sure the baby’s feet were covered in her swing, bouncer, etc. Just little things that made her feel a part of the new family~ and tons of praise every time she “helped” us out!

    Thanks for writing about this~ so many of us connect with your lovely words! 🙂

  44. That first picture is so precious. I’m glad older brother loves his little brother. 🙂

  45. I love reading your blog. I am about to have my second baby in December, my first will be 18 months old, and I’m worried about how she is going to handle a little brother, but I’m happy to know that it will all work out in the end. You give me hope as a new momma. I often feel as though I’m failing, and your honesty makes me feel like I’m not alone. Thank you!

    P.S. I love that yellow blanket… care to share where I may be able to get one?

  46. Ashley, may I ask where you got that yellow chevron blanket? It looks so cozy.
    Your boys are so precious! I can’t wait for the day that my Ace becomes a big brother.

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