Of course I intend to continue telling the journey of Mad's beginning, but today I saw something that reminded me I need to talk about Corey's side of the whole thing. So I'm going to start with part of the story after Mad was born, bring you up to today and then go back.
Corey was deathly afraid of Madelyn at first. He was so afraid of hurting her, scaring her, scarring her. He was close enough to hear her very first cry and I think it made him feel even more vulnerable than he usually does. It took a couple weeks for him peek in at her while she was sleeping. She was about 10 weeks old before he had to hold her for the first time (outside of the time my mother-in-law practically forced him into a brother/sister shot when she was a week old), and that was because I was injured and virtually immobilized. Lucky for him, my mother-in-law arrived the same morning (albeit in a full leg cast... we were a pair, ha!). When he did work up the nerve to pick up and carry his baby sister outside of dire need, it was always in a methodical pacing until he could hand her back to me. Anxious would probably be the best word to describe his demeanor. My dad would use a different terminology: scared shitless sounds like what he'd say.
Today we had some of our Mommy Group friends over, along with some new friends Mad and I made at the park this summer. By the end of the day, we had nine adults and four very little kids here. Mad, her birthday sharing pal Luke Skywalker (no, I'm not joking) (no, really, that's the kid's name) (stop laughing!) (well he's really cute and funny, so he'll charm his way out of trouble, that's how), park pal Scotty and his baby sister Lilly, plus all the parents, my mom and a close friend.
Naturally, Lilly woke from her nap just as Mom and Dad were getting ready to eat. I held her for them. Lilly and I bonded with the baby in the mirror for quite a while. Corey came to hang out. We talked about how hard it already is to recall Mad at that age or size. I turned away from the mirror to see my relaxed son smiling at this little baby. He's that way with Mad now, but back then, even when he was smiling at her, he looked tense. I commented, "It's a lot easier when it's not your own sister, huh?" He smiled at me and shrugged in a way that said he's a young man with a little life experience under his belt. He seemed so confident that I wanted to offer to let him hold her. Since Lilly isn't my baby, I didn't. I wonder how he would have reacted.
When Tom and I confirmed that we were expecting (early August 2007), he insisted on waiting to tell anybody until his parents came out to visit mid-September. It was especially hard not to tell some people. I wasn't sure how Corey would react, so postponing that wasn't bad. It helped that I only dealt with a mild, but persistent nausea (okay, it lasted nearly five months and sometimes it was a matter of shear willpower not to vomit, but I won and now prefer to recall that it was mild).
Corey has almost always wanted a sibling. When he first started talking about it around age four, I lovingly but firmly told him that I wasn't married anymore and wasn't having a baby unless I was married.
***Let's be clear, I don't care what choices you make or why you make them. If it works, it works and I say don't mess with it. Despite being raised by hippie parents, I was also influenced greatly by my Baptist grandparents. They were two of the best people I know and some of the way they lived rubbed off.
It came up several times over the intervening years. I never promised nor pretended that I thought I would have another baby. When Tom and I got engaged, the subject of siblings came up again. At that point in our relationship, anything felt possible, but all I would say to Corey is, "I don't know." I was a little surprised that he was still interested. It's not your typical 12-year-old boy way of thinking. Of course, Corey has rarely been typical.
I wanted Corey to know before anyone else. The night before Tom's parents arrived we sat down in the living room and told him we had some big news. He was very happy and guessed it right away. I say "guessed" even though I'm not entirely sure he didn't already know. We had quite a lot of trouble with Corey breaking into our room at the old apartment, and I suspected that he'd been in through our bathroom window again. I didn't let it bring down the mood and never brought it up.
He was absolutely thrilled and we were both relieved. Probably I was most relieved as I have worried about him feeling pushed to the side if it became Mom, Dad and Their Baby. Corey was inspired to write a lullaby for his new brother or sister. (He plays classical guitar.) I don't know if he ever played it for her, but I know he worked on it for a couple of months.
Once it was out in the open with Corey, certain things changed for me. Because of my history of miscarriages before Corey, the doctor did recommend a lifting restriction. As far as Corey was concerned, I was not to carry anything. This made grocery shopping and carrying in fabulous!
***Okay, one time I bought some 2.5 gallon water jugs at the groc and accepted the bagger's offer to carry things out. I felt like a fool, even after I explained. I still feel like a fool. I mean, seriously, how do you think the water jugs got into my cart?!?
Corey and I had plans to strip and reseal our dining table. I had to stand inside, behind our closed sliding glass door wearing a mask to direct him (yeah... that worked... well, I guess it did... he did a great job).
As my belly grew, Corey was somewhat fascinated, but did not really want to see it, feel it, talk about it or listen to the heartbeat at the doctor's office. There were a few times when he felt the baby move and even a couple of times when he watched as she hopped around or had hiccups. He never said it was gross. His adjectives were more along the lines of creepy, weird and alien. I could see that he was nervous for me and for his Bruster (brother + sister = Bruster). One of his biggest concerns from the get-go was that he would be stuck delivering the baby.
Over time I addressed his various concerns through discussions (whether he wanted them or not!), anecdotes about how things went when I was pregnant with him and classes. Corey attended the hospital tour, infant care and infant/child/adult CPR classes with us. He has always been quite firm in two things, "I'm not changing diapers" and, "Please don't leave me alone with the baby." The only thing he did not attend was prepared childbirth.
If you recall a big wind blowing through your neighborhood in January 2008 (when the last class began), that was probably just Corey sighing with relief.