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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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