I have been quiet vocal about how Miss J didn’t accept her baby brother when he was born 19 months ago. It’s something quiet common, but it’s not something you want to really talk about. Miss J was just over two when I got pregnant with her brother and was such a mummy’s girl. She was my mini me and always wanted mummy to put her to bed and read her stories. Whilst I was pregnant we did everything we could to prepare her for her new sibling, by talking about what was happening, taking her to our gender scan and letting her pick baby clothes and toys. She seemed to be understanding and kept asking when baby would ‘pop out’. When ever I did hold another baby she would get extremely jealous, so I did wonder if it would take a little adjustment initially. In preparation for her brother arriving we bought Miss J a fairy locket for her brother to give her and she picked out a blue ‘snuggle bunny’ the same as her much loved bunny. Everything we could have possibly done to prepare for his arrival was done and it was just now a waiting game.
At 37 weeks my waters broke without sending me into labour so after a 24 hour wait I was sent to hospital to be induced which didn’t work the first time. I had a long wait waiting for labour to kick start and was feeling really emotional and sad about not seeing my daughter. I had decided I didn’t want Miss J to see me in hospital and would let her meet her brother in her own home. Mr T arrived safely and we were able to leave the next afternoon to get home. Miss J was being looked after by a friend and was bought home to meet him. Her initial reaction was ‘it popped out’, she gave him gift and went off to play. I wasn’t expecting much from her and that was fine, as I knew it would take her time to adjust.
Miss J wasn’t interested in her little brother and was getting quiet jealous of me breastfeeding him. I was prepared that this could happen and spent as much time as I could with sitting with her and spending time with her and at first it was manageable as my husband was off work for two weeks to help. When my husband went back to work on twelve hour shifts things became a lot more strained. Everytime Mr T would cry she would put a muslim over his face and I was trying to explain to her why she couldn’t do that without making her resent him more. She would scream when I was holding him, refuse to walk if we were out and I was pushing him in his pram. She refused to even call him by his name and refered to him as ‘the baby’. I was having to bribe Miss J with sweets so I could get the occasional picture with her brother and I was trying desperately to get her to bond, but nothing was working and I knew it wasn’t something that could be forced.
My own mother suggested Miss J stayed over every Friday so I got a break, she got a break and I was able to bond with my baby. Miss J loved going over for the night, but when it came to coming back home she would scream that she didn’t want to, which was breaking my heart. I felt so guilty for bringing this baby into her life who she resented. I was struggling to get out the house and I was struggling to bond with my baby, looking back now it’s not surprising that I got postnatal depression.
There was nothing I could do, but to keep on trying to show Miss J that her brother wasn’t all that bad. I was getting her involved in any way possible, by getting nappies, letting her feed him a bottle, help wash him. I was patient with her and excepted that a bond for her would take time. I encouraged her to sit and communicate with him and to show him her toys or dancing and gradually I was seeing something happen. The real turning point was when Miss J started pre-school for two and half days a week. She loved going and having time to play with her friends and I loved being able to bond with baby or go shopping with ease. I remember taking Mr T for his jabs and had no choice, but to take Miss J with me, she insisted on holding his hand and became so worried and upset when he was crying. She was feeling his pain and was showing real concern for her little brother. Even though watching your baby have injections is usually a horrible experience it was something quiet special about that day as Miss J showed for the first time that she loved her brother. She still gets a bit jealous at times as he does of her, but I think that’s just natural for siblings. When Mr T wakes first in the morning he shouts her name and goes to find her in her bed and when she’s up first she climbs into his cot for cuddles. To watch them now you would never know what a struggle it was for her to bond with her brother, she’s extremely protective of him and loves to sit reading him books and play with his toys. They have their moments like any siblings do, but I can now see I’ve given her the greatest gift in the world which is her brother.