better together…or not so much?

After my 20-week ultrasound with Charlie, and after we had texted all the family and friends, I asked Cortney if he was excited to have another boy. Both of us were actually quite giddy about another little boy. Eddie would have a BROTHER! They would be BROTHERS!

004

I have never had a same-sex sibling, but from what I could tell, it was both a blessing and a curse…but mostly a blessing. I was always a little jealous of my two brothers. Even though Chris and I were closer in age, he and our youngest brother, Mike were closer. I guess there are just things that you can’t talk about with your big sister, but that a brother understands. You know, like sports.

Cortney, though, had a brother. There are almost seven years between them, but the have a special bond. Now that they are adults, they get together regularly. They bond over a beer and discuss everything from sports to their dad to having daughters.

Brothers are special. It’s just a special relationship. That is why when were told Eddie was getting a brother, a Charlie Bird, we rejoiced for our family.

003

I had to write all that because now that they are three-and-a-half and six? I am not always so sure about the wonder of the brotherly bond.

Friends, the level of bickering goes to eleven with these two.

It usually starts with both of them doing their own thing. Maybe Eddie is playing the tablet while Charlie catches up on his DVR-ed Mickey episodes. Everything is peaceful in Sluiter Nation. And then someone (ahem, Charlie) feels the need to sit too close to Eddie. Or maybe someone (ahem, Eddie) randomly mentions that he had a piece of candy after school. AND THEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

Eddie freaks out on Charlie or Charlie freaks out on all of us.

And they BOTH need the last word.

I admit that I yell. I know, I KNOW. I’ve read all those stupid articles and posts about yelling at your kids and how you need to be all patient and down on their level.

But sometimes? Sometimes I just yell, “STOP IT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW! OH MY JUMPING JEHOSHAPHAT STOP IT RIGHT NOW!”

This goes on and on for days and days.

The picking the bickering the not being able to be in the same dang room without driving Cortney and me to the Loony Bin.

And then Eddie will come home from school with a library book he picked out because Charlie would like it.

Or Charlie asks Eddie if he would like some of his m&ms.

Or Eddie asks Charlie if he would like to learn to play Where’s My Water on his tablet, and they scrunch together in the chair on a Saturday morning.

2015-11-08 08.26.35

Or Charlie asks Eddie if he can play Pokemon with him and Eddie says Yes.

Or Eddie asks Charlie what letters he learned at daycare and tells him “Good job!” when Charlie shares his letter work.

Or Cortney and I wake up at 6am on a Saturday because we hear the two of them giggling and talking with each other in their room because they know they can’t get up until 7:00am.

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I catch myself in those moments pausing and trying to picture them in high school together or in their 20’s and talking smack to each other about fantasy leagues. I try to picture them standing up in each other’s weddings or holding each other’s newborn babies. I like to think they will always stick up for each other, always be there when the other needs a buddy to just have a beer with.

And just as a tear is starting to come to my sentimental mom eye, I’ll hear a smack and then the yell of “CHAAAAAARRRRLLLIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!” Then a three-and-a-half-year-old scream and another thump.

I will suck in my breath, shake my head, and try to calm down so I don’t yell. Again.

Brothers, man.

Little Sister

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I can’t set Alice down without this happening. Her brothers swarm.

I expected it from Eddie. From the minute we told him I was pregnant, he has been wishing and praying for a sister. His reasoning? “I already have a brother and I do NOT want another one.” Ok then.

Eddie has been every bit of the best big brother I expected him to be. When Charlie was born, Eddie was two and a half. He doted on Charlie even at that young age. He loves babies. He is gentle and kind and soothing.

He offers to hold Alice and sing to her and feed her.

He tells her she is pretty and asks her what is wrong if she fusses.

2015-04-16 17.08.40

Eddie will always be her rock.

She will come to him with her heartbreaks and her victories. He will be her shoulder, her support system. He will teach her that she is worth more than all the gold in the world. He will stand behind her in all her choices. He will argue for her when she gets in trouble. He will probably do her chores so she can do something else.

She might take advantage of his heart, but I hope not.

I expected Eddie to be attentive and love on her.

I did not know what to expect from Charlie, but since he showed little interest in any other baby in the entire world, I thought maybe he would ignore her at best, show jealous rages at worst.

But you know what happens when you think you know your kid?

2015-04-23 18.45.27

He surprises you in the most wonderful way.

Charlie is completely taken by “Baby Alice” or “Allie Beans” or “Baby Alice Beans”. He loves her fiercely.

He is protective, caring, and borderline violent about her happiness. The first day she was home, I was feeding her and he put his hand to his ear and said, “what’s that noise?  That ::makes a kissing noise:: sound?” And I said, “That’s Baby Alice. She’s sucking on her bottle.”

From that moment his ears have been set to her. One peep and he is by her side. If he can’t get to her side, he will very loudly announce that SOMEONE needs to get there. “BABY ALICE BEANS IS CRYING! MOM MOM! DAD DAD!”

 

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If Eddie is her rock, Charlie will be her guardian.

Woe to the boy that does wrong by Alice. Charlie acts first, thinks later–which means anyone who hurts his sister? Well his ass will be grass.

As Sonny was for Connie, Charlie will be for Alice. Let’s just hope it ends better for Charlie. Luckily there are no toll roads in Michigan. (please tell me you get this reference. PLEASE or we cannot be friends.)

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(I have no idea what is going on in this picture, but I do know it was probably ridiculous. I’m guessing the smell of poop was involved).

Eddie makes her coo.

Charlie makes her laugh.

Eddie calms her.

Charlie delights her.

I could be totally wrong about how their relationships turn out. Maybe Alice’s personality will clash with one or both of her brothers.

I hope not.

I hope this love is something she is already internalizing.

If her smiles and coos and finger-holding are any indication, these three are going to be quite the unstoppable sibling team. I can’t wait to watch them grow up together.

2015-04-03 19.40.13

Baby Giggles

boys2

Charlie doesn’t laugh much.

He smiles tons, and he always has a chuckle for us if he thinks we are funny, but belly laughs are few and far between unless provoked with tickle torture play.

Yesterday he was feeling under the weather and had been very clingy.  Smiles were hard to come by let alone any chuckles or giggles.  His nose constantly ran and the drool flowed.  (Please tell me he is not getting more teeth.  Home Sluice already has 12 and he’s not even 12 months yet!)

Nothing made him smile.

Until Eddie decided he was going to entertain him.

Eddie started dancing around with an empty paper towel roll.  He claimed it was a baton and tossed it in the air.  To both of our surprise, Charlie cracked up. As in giggling uncontrollably.

Eddie and I looked at each other and I told him to do it again, so Eddie tossed the “baton” and did a little dance.  Charlie giggled so hard he had to put his is chin to his chest as he stood next to his activity table.

That was all the encouragement Eddie needed.  He started to strut around like a band major and toss the “baton” and spin around doing dance moves.

Charlie laughed so hard, tears started to well in his eyes.

And suddenly, tears sprung to my eyes.

In front of me was Eddie saving Charlie from his yucky feeling…even if just for a few moments.  Eddie made Charlie forget that he was snotty and sleepy.  He made him forget to want to cling to me.  Charlie was completely memorized and taken with his big brother.

Just as Eddie was taking away his brother’s troubles, Charlie was feeding Eddie’s need for attention.  Eddie had been whiny and pouty all day because we wouldn’t let him play with screens nonstop.  Suddenly someone wasn’t just in the room with him, but was encouraging and loving his performance.

They are brothers.

After Charlie was born, I was so worried about Eddie.  I was worried that having Charlie would somehow take away from Eddie’s happiness.

I was so wrong.

Eddie is so much more complete with his little brother by his side.  And Charlie has no idea what it’s like to not have an older brother doing everything he can to make him smile.

I used to think Charlie was trying to say “daddy” when he would grin and say “dee dee dee,” but now I think he might be saying “Eddie”.

boys

 

 

 

magnificent 7

Dear Charlie,

This weekend you passed the 7-month mark.

Daddy, Eddie, and I were supposed to be in Chicago on the day you turned 7 months, but instead we all were exhausted and fighting colds (you too), so we stayed home.  All of a sudden I looked at you and said, “hey! you’re 7 months old today, Bird!”

And you flashed me one of your brief, mega-smiles.

You are at the most unbelievably awesome age.

Around most people you are a quiet observer, but around family and those you know and love, you are full of smiles and coos and belly laughs.

Every day it amazes me how similar yet vastly different you as a baby are than what having Eddie as a baby was like.

I know I compare you guys all the time, but I was not prepared for what Eddie was as a baby (a tiny version of all my attitude and moodiness), so with you, I was prepared for fickle, crying, high emotion (no matter what the emotion, with Eddie it was turned up to 11…still is), and the excitement that is EVERYTHING.

While you resemble your brother, you have your own way.

I recognize the baby stages of teething, putting everything in your mouth, grasping, and so on.  But the way you go through them is just different.

You are quieter.  More observant.

But you want to grab EVERYTHING.

Eddie was content with whatever 2 or 3 toys we put in front of him.  Not you.  You want the whole basket of toys and you want to empty it yourself.

They you grunt until we fill it back up so you can do it all over again.

While you love to put all the things in your mouth, you definitely prefer soft things…like the leather ears on the wooden dog stacker thing or the tag on your puppy.

See those keys?  Eddie jammed them down his throat and choked himself repeatedly so we had to take them away.

You are obsessed with “figuring them out”. Oh you gum them, but it’s not a “see if you can fit all of them in your mouth at once” game. It’s a “huh. these are not all the same. why is that? eh, I’ll taste them” type of experience.

You are sitting completely unassisted.  Although you will get yourself back on your tummy or back because your mode of transportation involves rolling and flailing.

I know if you decided to you could get yourself from your tummy to sitting.  But you just don’t seem to care about that right now.  You are perfectly content to have us set you on your booty–criss cross applesauce–where you can watch your brother’s antics and smile at all of us and clap your hands in approval.

While getting you to look up from what you are doing to smile for the camera is impossible, I wish I could show you the cute smiles you give.  You have a million faces that you pull.

You have a flirty half-smile I see you give Renae and daycare.

You have the toothy grin you give me when you haven’t seen me all day…or for five minutes.

You have the giant smile paired with the happy “growl” you do when you see daddy because he tends to bury his face in your next and make growly noises.  It’s hilarious that you identify him by this sound.

You have your giggle smile when we tickle you…because you are SO ticklish!

You have concentration face where your face gets all squishy and your cheeks get droopy and you won’t look away from what you are “figuring out”.

You have the “bird lip” face where it seems that you are looking at us like we are all fools and you know better.

You have the eye twinkle with just a hint of a smirk that makes us believe that you may just become the “naughty” one.  Or the “smart” one.  Or both.

You really don’t cry much.  You yell at us in anger, frustration, hunger, and sleepiness, but you don’t cry much

Although if we take too long to respond to your anger?  You might cry.

But really, even your mad face is so adorable.

And while you can totally sit on your own, you are VERY into grabbing ALL THE THINGS.  And sometimes that means you reach just a tad too far.

But you know what?  We let you reach just beyond your grasp.  Even if it means you fall.

Oh we scoop you right up, but then we encourage you to go for that thing again.

And you do.

You are definitely strong-willed and determined.

I like that.

I know I will NOT like it a LOT while you are growing up, but those are incredible things to have as an adult.

You and Eddie share a fierce independent streak, but again, they manifest themselves so differently.

While Eddie is not a risk-taker and needs us to fall asleep (still!) and never wanted to hold his own bottle, you fall asleep when you’re tired and grab the bottle and get the job done on your own.

Eddie wants so badly to be a big boy.  He always has.  He wants to play with the big kids, go to school, and move it move it!  By seven months he was pulling up to his knees and getting ready to crawl.

You have zero interest in these things.  You seem to be enjoying babyhood.  Your now.

You let us snuggle you and play toys with you.  You’re not determined to do the next milestone, but instead laugh and play and enjoy the one you’re in.

Eddie needs us for 3 seconds to warm up to a situation and then any hint of shy leaves his body.  You are more reserved.  You are quiet longer.  You don’t just jump into smiling and babbling at just anyone.

I don’t keep track of your stats like I did with Eddie.

That was a new mom thing, I think.

It’s not that I am neglecting remembering you though.

With Eddie I had to cling to the stats because I was sick.  I wasn’t the mom I could have been.

With you, I don’t need the stats to remember you.  I soak up your baby-ness every day.  I breathe in your smell and smooch your baby fat.

I did these things with Eddie too…but because of being sick, it was hard to sort the good from the not as good. And I can’t remember them so well anymore because even the happy happened in a fog of ick.

With you, I am doing so much better.

I don’t know how much you weigh or how long you are.

But I do know that your fingers are short and stubby compared to Eddie’s long, delicate fingers he had.

I don’t really keep track of what solids I give you or if I am on “track” or whatever.

But I do know you enjoy food as much as your brother did, even if it took you longer to understand the weird new texture in your mouth.

I don’t know what percentile you’re in.

But I do know that your once delicate features have grown plump and round and so very nommable.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that your existing could make me a better mother all around.

I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough love.

I was afraid you would take away from Eddie in an irreparable way.

Oh it hasn’t all been rainbows and easy days around here since your arrival, but there have definitely been more sunny days than rainy days.

More smiles than tears.

My sickness is still there lurking, but I am doing much better at managing it.

You and your brother and your daddy pull me through and make me whole.

I can’t believe seven months have gone by so fast.

And at the same time, I can’t imagine you not being here.

Did that time really exist?

Somehow I think no.

You were always here with us.

In some way.

************

The monthly comparison….

at the same age…

current day comparison

you two are brothers indeed.

And I love you fiercely with ever fiber of my heart and soul and mind.

xxoo <3 Mommy

closeness vs cuddles

A tired Eddie at 6 months with a tired Mommy

Can we talk about sleep for a minute?

I am happy to say that for the most part, I have birthed good sleepers.

Both boys were “sleeping through the night” by all definitions by about 2 months.  (I know, I am a VERY lucky girl. This fact does not escape me).

That is where their sleeping similarities end.

I thought Eddie was a cuddler. I mean, he was my first and I had nothing to compare him to, but he really REALLY didn’t want to sleep alone. Ever.

The nightly routine

Naps were fairly non-existent for Eddie until he was older. He wouldn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes by himself in bed or the swing or anywhere.  And night time was the biggest battle ever.  It was like his crib had giant teeth and sharp talons that might shred him to bits if he let himself get comfortable and fall asleep.

It was the nightly routine for someone to cuddle him up until he fell asleep.

Then it was always a crap shoot as to whether he would wake up once and need rocking back to sleep or 700 times.  On really bad nights, one of us would take him to the couch and sleep there for the majority of the night with him all balled up on our chests.

But he was really was a good sleeper.  The bad nights were exceptions to the rule.  Most nights were were blessed with a sacked out little guy…once we could get him that way.

And he just wanted to be held. Always.

We had a cuddley baby, right?

Apparently not.

Well, not compared to his baby brother.

even in a winter coat, Eddie did “airplane arms”

It took until Eddie was well over a year old before he reached for anyone. He would shout and scream when he wanted to be picked up, but he would NOT put his arms out toward anyone.  And once held, he did NOT hold on.  In fact, he sort of had an aversion to his hands touching people.  He would do what we called “airplane arms” when held: thrust his arms straight out at his sides or slightly back, like he was avoiding you.

He wanted the comfort of being held (all the dang time), but did not cuddle into the hold.

The Bird and his daddy.

From Day One Charlie was different.  He didn’t need to be held to sleep at all, but he adored the cuddles.

When we were in the hospital, I would take him out of his little plastic baby aquarium cart thing and put him in my bed with me.  He would turn his face into me and sigh. Every time.

This boy had the mommy-wooing thing down pat right from the start.

first person he started reaching for? Eddie, of course.

Charlie has always napped well.  When he is tired? He sleeps. Or he lets you know he wants to sleep so you’ll put him in his bed–yes, the same bed that Eddie was convinced would injure him, Charlie adores and falls right to sleep in.

At night, Charlie just goes to sleep.  We put him in bed, maybe rock him for a bit if he is overtired and needs help, but usually it’s just to bed, end of story.  He rarely wakes up in the night unless he is having a growth spurt that requires a middle of the night feeding.

And he definitely loves the cuddles.

Could have done this in his bed, but we both like the cuddling better.

Charlie has been reaching for Eddie for over a month now.  And recently he started reaching for Cort and me when he wants to be picked up or held.

I just need a quick hug, daddy.

Charlie will lay his head down and hold us when he is tired or needs a buddy.  Eddie never did this.

At night, Eddie would still rather have a friend lie near his bed or in bed with him until he falls asleep.  He won’t cuddle up, but it makes him feel safer while succumbing to his exhausted body and mind to have someone he trusts near.

Charlie will take a cuddle any time he can get them, but doesn’t require them for comfort or safety the way his older brother needs us.

Classic Charlie: roll to side, pass out

They are so similar, yet so different.

One needs closeness for comfort, the other enjoys cuddles for coziness.

Eddie gives us hugs now, but on his own terms.

Charlie will give anyone who smiles at him a good nuzzle.

One thing is for sure: Both of our boys love fiercely.  And that makes me very happy.

…and then things got weird

They were sitting so nicely together on the couch.

Eddie even asked me if I would take their picture.

Eddie can be so gentle and loving.

Moments like these make my momma heart swell.

So I gladly took out my camera to capture this moment.

And then…things got weird.


(can’t see the video? Click here.)
I think this one-minute video illustrates quite well what my future with these two holds.
Somebody pass the wine.

mommy lessons

Dear Eddie,

I know it seems like on the day your baby brother turns 10 days old, I should be writing to him.  But it’s YOU, sweet boy, who has been on my mind and heart.

Your brother?  He is doing great.

And I feel like I owe a lot of it to you.

You see, Eddie, when you were born, it was traumatic.  For both of us.

I labored all night and day with you.  Had everything been ok, you should have come into the word by noon on your due date.  But things were not ok.  My body wasn’t shaped right.  You weren’t coming out right.  And so many other variables.

Things went downhill and I had an emergency rush C-section.

You know the story.

Anyway, people were with us in the hospital nonstop.  They loved to love on you.

Daddy stayed until late at night to watch the Tigers play and to cuddle you.

Those three days in the hospital didn’t really involve you and me being together.  I think I fed you once.

Our bonding was difficult.

I was stressed out, anxiety-ridden, and depressed.

You were colicky, gassy, and all around a mess.

WE were a mess, Eddie.

I was learning to be a mommy and you were learning just to BE.

As time marched on, I got better and so did you.  We figured each other out…mostly because we are just so much the same person.  And now our bond is something so strong and unique.  We are a powerful pair, you and I, my Eddie Bear.

And that is why I am writing you today.

You taught me everything I know.

My days in the hospital with Charlie were so easy.  Our bond came quickly.  I don’t cringe when he cries.

I am more patient with everything.

We have bonded instantly.

But instead of celebrating this, I spent days after coming home from the hospital re-living yours and my experience.  The guilt of how hard it was with you crashed down on me so hard, I could hardly breathe.

You suddenly seemed to be so grown up…and I had missed these precious first few months of your life.

What kind of mother was I?

As I cried and mourned and grieved and worked through it, you came to me.  You told me, “don’t cry, mommy.”

You dried my tears with your little knuckles.

You asked me every day when you came home from daycare if I was “feeling bettah, mommy?  How your owie?”

You crawled on the couch and leaned close to me in the evenings for a good cuddle before bed.

And you made me realize…

It is easy with Charlie because you taught me how to be a mommy.

You made me a mommy and you guided me in the ways of being a good mommy.

Yes, I made mistakes.  Yes, you definitely let me know about them.  And yes, that is a big downfall of being the oldest (boy, do your dad and I relate to that).

But because of YOU, my sweet Eddie Bear, I can be calmer, better with Charlie.

Your brother is 10 days old today.

And he has YOU to thank for a mommy who knows what she is doing.

Thank you, my Eddie.

Thank you for helping me every single time I am sad.

Thank you for being the light in the all-consuming darkness.

Thank you for needing me.

Thank you for making me a mommy.

I love you.

 

my boy

Hey Kate, look at your boy.

I turn my head with a smile.  I know exactly who Cort is talking about.

And sure enough, when I look, there is Eddie.

Doing something cute while oblivious to the fact that anyone is looking at him.

Pulling down his pants, copying the dance moves on PBS, counting with Mickey.

your boy.  the boy.  our boy.

For the past 29 months those words inexplicably meant Eddie.

Yesterday, as Cort told me to look over at my boy,a life turned and fluttered deep within me.

It suddenly occurred to me that in less than 18 weeks, I’ll have to ask “which boy?”

We will have two.

Two boys.

Something in my heart constricted as I realized that.

Part out of joy and love and part…

He made me a momma.

He is my boy.

He is my one and only buddy.

He is my entire heart.

When he curls up next to me on the couch, everything is right with my world.

He fills something that I didn’t know was empty.

He is my boy.

And as I pull him close–and his brother flips and flops on the inside–I can’t help but wonder…

Will he forgive me for adding another one?

Can he understand that he will always be my boy?

I have been making a habit of pushing those questions out of my mind.

Because they are unanswerable.

Instead, I sit beside Eddie’s crib when he is scared of the dark, stroke his hair, and quietly sing Jesus Loves Me until his eyes get heavy.

And pray that he will always be my boy.

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