Assimilation of the sibling

Baby Owen sports a natural mohawk, signals he wants to nurse by smacking his lips and slapping my boob, gives open mouth sprinkler kisses that start at one cheek and end at your ear, pulls my hair and chirps “hi” at me at 4am, picks up my hand and holds it against his face while he nurses, covers my hand with his while we bounce his burps out, growls like a bear cub and holds his legs aloft while twirling his toes, laughs when his sister is mad and cries when she does, holds all of his limbs in the air like a monkey scaling an invisible tree while log rolling towards me in bed with his mouth open, stealthily wiggles himself towards his sister to pet her hair and eat it; and squeaks with joy when we hold him up high, tickle, kiss, squeeze, or bathe him.

Nora runs to him in the morning to cover him in kisses and wants to kiss him goodnight every night since he came home. She snuck in to bed with us his first night and will only nap with him beside her ever since. She helps diaper him, cleans up his drool, and tells on him when he chews on things which is often because he’s teething. She protects him from other children and keeps them from touching him explaining “it’s not safe”. They think she means Owen but she’s referring to them.

There’s so many ways the two of them differ and are similar. Nora had colic for her first four and half months but Owen had none. Owen was tongue-tied and difficult to nurse requiring two procedures, manually expressing in to his mouth, and continual latch issues until only a couple weeks ago at the five month mark yet Nora was a natural from the moment I held her. She’s always been wary of strangers and shies away from crowds where as Owen is happy being held by anyone and loves the activity of others. He has more tolerance for commotion than the smallest amount of pain yet gas and bodily functions crack him up, especially pig snorts, but a miniscule drop of pee in his diaper is grounds for screaming. Nora at his age required silence to sleep or constant motion, gas was the cause of wailing like a banshee, and a flesh wound went unnoticed. Both children are proof that each individual in themselves is a jumble of paradoxes.

Yet with each of them, daily, I notice a subtle exchange of observation and mimicry. They’re adjusting to one another and seeking acceptance from the other. She dances and twirls around him like a butterfly in his presence. He coos, squeals, and twirls his limbs in the air to join in. His laughter draws her closer and she nuzzles him as he does to me.

They both prefer the same nursing positions, hooking their left leg over my arm, stroking my skin as they do so. Nora would pat my arms and pet my hair as it dangled down, Owen grabs at my mouth to feel my lips and holds my hair if he can reach that far up, and I find myself singing the same songs. Feeling the need to capture moments like I did with Nora but different ones this time around and all the better with her in the picture. It’s relentless madness with two small ones and yet it’s becoming more normal a little each week.

Not easier, just more experienced; a little lonely, yet freeing to be flying blind as to what this should look like being a mother of two. Different without a doubt compared to before with only Nora but the same feelings of second guessing, achievement, guilt, joy, boredom, frustration, bliss, humor, and exhaustion. I try to focus on what’s ahead to look forward to, remind myself it all will change and each phase has its joys and pains, embrace the insanity with humor, forgive myself for my hard days, and always remember the love. Nora tells us, “I love you every day,” and we all tell each other the same now echoing her words. Well, Owen just coos and manages “hi” or “mama” but we hope he’s on board.

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