Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Anticipation

I'm surprising even myself with how low-key I am feeling as we enter the 2-week-countdown-'till-due-date. I have moments of frantic stress, but generally I'm experiencing this period in our lives with surprising calm. I'm much more even-keeled than I'd have expected to be at this point. I'm much more laid back and relaxed about all that is on the horizon than I ever would have imagined I'd be. Part of it is that I feel the need to be as rock-solid as possible for K & O. There is so much going on in their little minds as they sense the approach of Baby Sister's arrival. Their anticipation is so thick you could cut it with a knife. They have been wanting a baby sibling for as long as they can remember. They have talked about it openly and asked for it explicitly since the time they started talking-- literally. And now, it is upon them. And they know it. Great expectations. And yet an intense sense of the unknown. It is a lot for two big little boys.
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For the past 2-3 weeks or so we've been watching their emotions manifest in many different ways. They are much more cuddly and need a lot more physical attention (hugs, snuggles, cuddles) than usual. They talk about Baby Sister constantly (it is clearly at the surface of their minds). They get frustrated more easily and lash out more quickly. And they act up more than they normally do. At the same time, they are cool as cucumbers. When gifts arrive for Baby Sister (which they regularly do), K & O take it in stride and have never once expressed (in any way) any sort of jealousy or envy. When people focus their attention on me/my pregnancy and how I'm feeling, etc. (which they regularly do), K & O just go with the flow and have never once demanded the focus to shift to them. When they see me putting their old books and toys in the baby's room they act 100% unphased. As we've been 'nesting' like crazy and re-arranging our entire house, K & O have never once batted an eye. And yet their anxiety pops up in fits and starts-- the anticipation is palpable.
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A couple of weeks ago we visited friends who have baby 8-month-old twins. Kyle and Owen were not themselves during the visit. They were acting up a lot, not listening, and were very revved up. During the visit they were not allowed to do much with the babies (the babies' parents were -- as to be expected -- very protective, and there were a lot of limits placed on how K & O could interact with the babies). The visit did not go as K & O had hoped (they had hoped to be able to hold the babies, touch the babies, maybe even feed the babies, etc.). In the car afterward we had a big conversation de-briefing about the visit. In an unbelievably articulate way, both K & O (initiated by K) explained their feelings-- They told us that they were feeling "mad" and "angry" and "frustrated" because they wanted their "own baby to be born" and they were "upset" that "Baby Sister was not coming out yet." This totally threw Braydon and I for a loop. We were shocked, actually. We had been upset by their behavior during the visit. We had been thinking they were tired or bored or maybe even jealous of all the attention the babies were getting. But we really had not put 2 & 2 together to realize that for K & O it was all about Baby Sister (of course, in retrospect it is obvious, but at the time it was not obvious to us at all-- it had never even occurred to us actually). We four had a big long talk about all of this in the car. This was one of a few similar experiences during which K & O have expressly articulated their own sense of anticipation, excitement, and frustration over this whole waiting-for-baby process.
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This afternoon I picked the boys up from school. They played on the playground with their friends for awhile and all was o.k. But upon arriving home they were at each other and fighting non-stop. Bickering. Grabbing. Shoving. Snide comments. Bad behavior. I had to send Owen to his room at one point for purposefully slamming the door in Kyle's face (and accidentally jamming Kyle's fingers in the door). While he was up in his room I said to Kyle (who was by no means solely an innocent victim in all that had been going down), "Kyle, why do you think Owen is acting up so much today?" And here is what happened next~~
~~~
Kyle: I think because he's frustrated.
Heather: Oh?
K: That's why he's acting up. Because he's so frustrated. He's frustrated because Baby Sister is not coming out. That's why he's acting up.
H: Oh. Frustrated.
K: He's getting frustrated it isn't coming before our birthday. It's taking too long for her to come.
H: Oh. Are you frustrated too?
K: Yes. Because I want her to come. Before our birthday, not after. I want her to come Friday. Not waiting and waiting and waiting for her to come. Not waiting and waiting and waiting for her to get borned.
H: Do you think that's why you are acting up so much today too Kyle? Is that why?
K: Yes, I think so. I think so. I'm getting so tired of waiting for her to get borned.
*
Nothing about Baby Sister had been mentioned all afternoon. I had been thinking they were just having an 'off' day, or that they were unsettled because Braydon has been working such long hours the past couple of days (they have hardly seen him since Monday). So Kyle's explanation caught me off guard. A couple of minutes later I went upstairs to get Owen. Alone with him in his room I asked him, "Owen, why are you acting up so much today?"
O: Because I'm frustrated.
H: Oh?
O: I already told you that. I'm frustrated.
H: Kyle said that he thinks you're frustrated because Baby Sister isn't born yet. Is that right?
O: Yes, that's what I already told you.
H: Oh.
O: I am feeling so frustrated that she's not getting born yet. I want my baby to come out. I want my baby to come out in zero sleeps. My baby needs to come out of that belly. Why it is taking so long? Why?
H: Because she's just not ready yet. It will be after your birthday. A few days after your birthday.
O: I want it before my birthday now. I want to have the birthday so we can get that baby borned out.
H: It will be soon.
O: Not soon enough.

7 comments:

mayhem said...

Ah ha!!

Those sweet boys. I can understand how it must seem "Not soon enough!"

9 months is F-O-R-E-V-E-R when you're almost 4. (Like, about 20% of their lives, I suppose!)

Bek said...

It amazes me how easily they are able to express themselves verbally. That is amazing!

They are already such good big brothers, it will be fun to hear the stories.

I bet that no one wants baby sister here in zero sleeps more than you. I take that back, you have a semester to finish, right?

Good luck!

art-sweet said...

Your boys are so cute and so wonderfully in touch with their feelings.

I wonder - this is taking the bun in the oven metaphor quite literally - but what if you were to bake a cake with them? Divide it into two pans and take one out of the oven before it's done. That's like baby sister coming too soon. We want baby sister to be "well baked."

Would it help them to understand WHY baby sister has to stay in? After all, she might decide to stay in for a little more than two weeks!

Patricia said...

"...get that baby borned out." Priceless! :) Also, I know someone (I'll tell you off list) who told me she got pregnant with both of her kids when her life was stressful and out of balance. Being pregnant "centered" her and she felt super calm. Just interesting! (I'm not saying your life was out of balance before, but the calm part is interesting.) xo, P.

Amanda said...

Cute! Well for all of your sakes, I hope the baby is borned soon!

Kristen said...

Oh goodness, they are precious. For two boys who anticipate their birthday almost an entire year in advance, it is so touching that they just "want to have the birthday" be over so they can meet their baby sister. You are going to have a very lucky little girl...

Jess said...

I (too) envy their ability to describe their feelings. It goes more like this in my house.
"Why do you think you're acting up?"
"Because you're mean."

Glad you're feeling good.