June, 2015 Archive

Such Devoted Sisters

Almost every day, someone asks me how the sisters are doing together and how Madelyn is feeling since having Arielle home. I am proud — and relieved — to say that it’s been 14 weeks of Arielle-ness, and not once, even for a nanosecond, has Madelyn ever acted out, felt jealous, or wished her sister away.

Just today, Arielle was crying because… who knows… and Madelyn and I looked at each other with exasperated eyes and I said with some sarcasm, “Ok! That’s it. She’s going back in!” and Madelyn put her hand on my tummy and said, “Noooo, Mommy! You can’t put my sister back in! She has to be out of your tummy so I can always be with her.”

And that was just one instance of Big Sis showing her Lil Sis some love.

A few weeks ago, I was in my bathroom doing my makeup before taking the girls out for the day. Of course I only had about five minutes left of putting on my face, but that’s when Arielle decided to do a ping pong match with her pacifier where she’d spit it back out after I put it back in. This exercise continued and I decided that I just needed to finish the mascara and I’d be able to then pick her up and we’d be on the move.

So just as predicted, the first coat was going on Lefty, and Arielle began her wail. I told myself to stay strong, that I’d be ready to pick her up in a few minutes, and then I heard Madelyn barreling down the hall: “I got it! I GOT IT! I GOT ITTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!” and in a blink of my newly spidery eyes, the baby stopped crying, Madelyn was rocking her, and singing, quite appropriately, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Arielle was silent. And then she began to coo at Madelyn who started to talk to her gently in her baby voice: “It’s Ok, Baby Sister. I’m here. I’m Maddie. I’m your big sister. I will always make sure you’re happy. I can’t wait to teach you things.” And then she proceeded to list all of the things she wants to teach her and do with her, which included reading, playing with Princeton, and going potty.


And then my stupid mascara dripping was all over my cheeks. Must’ve been allergies. Or some onion chopping… invisibly taking place… in my bathroom. Yeah.

Every week, when I take Arielle’s photo to document her age, Madelyn always wants to jump in and be in the photo with her. At first I thought maybe this was the jealousy and it was finally showing up, but then Madelyn would declare, “I just want to be in the photo with Arielle so she can always remember us together.” I mean. What? Really?

So now each week, I have record of both girls growing together.




Even in the hospital, Madelyn was curious and never cautious. She owned Arielle from the moment she arrived. She knew right away to speak to her in a sweet voice and was always quiet and calm around her, despite her genuine excitement. She proudly wore her Big Sister couture, never felt left out even when I was in bed with the baby so we could get to know each other.


Before Arielle was born, friends advised me to have a basket of special toys for Madelyn to play with while I nursed the baby since those first few weeks typically require us to be attached to each other. The theory is that the basket of unique toys would distract the big sister from the fact that Mom is giving a lot of attention to the baby sister. Well, I never got my act together and no such basket ever came to fruition.

Instead, Madelyn gave US a gift. If she wasn’t off playing happily and independently while we tended to all of Arielle’s needs, she was right by our side, helping out and assisting as a second or third set of hands. And those long hours of nursing Arielle in her room presented us with a greater gift than any basket of presents we could’ve given to Madelyn: She would sing and dance, dress up in costumes, and perform shows for us. Not only did this keep me entertained while nursing — which, admittedly, can be kind of boring and exhausting — but it made Arielle more and more familiar with her future idol. As the weeks went on and the baby became more aware of her surroundings, she began to fixate on Madelyn right away, and I really think it’s because she heard her voice and felt her presence so often.


Now, Arielle lights up when Madelyn enters the room. This past week at Gymboree, we were discussing who our babies’ favorite people are besides Mom (read: food), and without a doubt, I was able to list Madelyn. When she’s around, Arielle quits crying, and she doles out smiles for free to her big sis, which makes Madelyn reciprocate with excited squeals.

As an only child, it is so super cool to see how the girls treat each other and react to each other. I know that the future holds more of a … variety… of emotions between these two. But their foundation now is strong. I am so thankful that Madelyn embraced her baby sister. And really, I never expected she wouldn’t. I always kind of knew she’d be a terrific big sister and wouldn’t display any negative reactions. For the sake of honesty, I was always worried about how I, the mother, would accept a new child into our home. Things were so established with Madelyn and she’s such a great kid. I kept wondering how I could ever love another little one.

It wasn’t love at first sight either. I was quite happy with Arielle and glad she was here, but I still didn’t know HOW I would fit her into our very tight unit. We took her home, and between the distractions of recovering from surgery and figuring out breastfeeding, I wasn’t quite bonded with her yet — I mean, I thought she was very cute and sweet, but didn’t really know what to DO with this new baby.

And then it hit me. Madelyn was a big sister. She grew into her new role like a pro, like it was always meant to happen for her. And I began to fall in love with Arielle through the eyes of Madelyn.


At the end of my pregnancy, I had shared my concerns with of our dear friends who is also very wise with two darling daughters of his own. He said that his older daughter made them a family and his younger daughter completed it. Those words definitely ring true for me now and thanks to Madelyn, I had my “Ah ha!” moment of really FALLING in love with Arielle, our sweet little newcomer.

Madelyn allowed me to truly adore and enjoy our baby. The guilt and concerns I felt before she arrived all dissipated once I saw Madelyn as a big sister. I can’t wait to see their relationship grow, and I know that Arielle will always be on the right track with such a wonderful role model in front of her. Time will tell how different they may be, but these two sisters share one big thing: my heart.