Prior to Jackson's arrival I was seriously scared how I would ever handle two. Ethan was deep into the terrible two's although now, looking back, I'd have to attribute a lot of the problems to the fact that Michael and I were going 100 MPH trying to get the house finished before the baby arrived. He also went through a lot of changes during my pregnancy. We lived in three different houses, moved away from our family and friends, started school and transitioned to a big boy bed. Highly stressed parents and lots of changes definitely elevates toddler tantrums.
As the time neared for Jackson's arrival I began to mourn the loss of the days of just me and E. Everything had been so stressful towards the end of my pregnancy. I was worried that this next change might really do our special relationship in. Most days, he wanted nothing to do with his mommy. I couldn't really blame him. With as much disciplining I was having to do those days, I didn't feel like a very fun mommy either. It was heartbreaking and discouraging, but I kept faith that once Jackson came, things would settle back down and hopefully our relationship would return to normal.
(All above photos were taken by the very talented Kristen Overbay from Overbay Photography)
His first three weeks of being a big brother was filled with distractions of Grandparents. He was thrilled to have his favorite people staying at his house and having 100% of their attention. He hardly even noticed me or the baby those first few weeks. I was beyond thankful for this as it allowed me some good one on one time with Jackson and I knew he was over the moon with grandparent love. He never minded me holding the baby, but if the grandparents picked him up, Ethan would quickly tell them "Baby, sleep" and point to the boppy. He was not interested in sharing his time.
Occasionally he would come over and hug and kiss on the baby. I constantly have to remind him to be gentle. I don't think you really realize how big your toddler is until you see a tiny newborn beside them. Seriously...when did my first baby get so big?!? He looked like he had grown overnight when he walked into that hospital room.
I'm doing my best to balance my time these days between both the boys. Most days I try to do arts and craft time with Ethan during which I provide him my undivided attention. I feel like we are getting our special little relationship back to the way it was and I'm so happy that it's happened so quickly. I think all he needed was for us to just slow down.
As far as Jackson goes, Ethan mostly ignores him until I finally get him to sleep during the day. He will sneak over to the swing right after Jack dozes off to give him kisses or hugs. Sometimes I'm shocked that babies are able to survive the other young as Ethan's hugs appear to be smothering the poor baby. Thankfully, babies are stronger than we think and honestly, Jackson hardly even wakes when Ethan comes over to "play" with him. I guess it's just normal to him. Ethan isn't very jealous of the baby. He has his moments, but for the most part he doesn't mind us sharing our time with him. In the car I have them seated side by side so I can continue to hand things to Ethan easily via the middle seat. This has proved to be slightly problematic as Ethan uses the carrier as a foot rest. It's a battle at the moment, but it usually ends up with Ethan sweetly holding Jackson's hand. It melts my heart every time.
Ethan has proven to be a big helper around the house just as I knew he would be. He will bring me pacis or burp cloths when needed. He will even take it upon himself to replace Jackson's paci when it falls out in the car. Sometimes he crams it into his mouth...we are still working on the "gentle" concept, but I foresee him being really helpful one day. He also helped me give Jackson a bath in the sink and he was surprisingly very gentle with this task. I think he really enjoyed it and I plan on doing it with him a little more often.
Being a big brother is definitely teaching Ethan a lot of lessons in compassion, empathy and patience. They are hard lessons to learn, but he seems to be taking it all in stride.