Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A newly minted middle child

I was going through an area of drawing/craft/creativity explosion in the girls' room to see what was worth keeping, and I came across a pile of papers on Magdalena's nightstand. As I looked through them, tears came to my eyes. And even though they aren't the finest examples of her artistical (as she calls it) ability, I will definitely be keeping them. Here's why.

Sterling is a pretty colicky baby, which just means that he cries a lot, especially in the evening. He cries if you hold him. He cries harder if you put him down. He cries even if you nurse him, or swaddle him, or put him in the football hold, or any of the other tricks you are going to tell me to try. We've tried it. He's slowly growing out of it, but for the first 6 weeks of his life, bedtime for the girls was (and still is, occasionally) a very non-peaceful occasion around here. Usually, it consists of me saying to the girls, "get ready for bed. Then go to bed. When he finally gives up crying and goes to sleep, I will come read to you/snuggle you/say good night. If you are still awake, that is." Then I go wrangle my armful of screaming baby and leave the girls all by their lonesomes. So sad.

But actually, this works out pretty well for Miriam. She just picks up her book and reads. But Majd isn't much of a solo silent reader yet. So on those evenings, she would grab some colors or a pencil and draw. That's the stack of papers I came across. The drawings of a forlorn little 5-year-old whose mama can't tuck her into bed just yet.

A Marauder's Map scribbled on an envelope. I guess this one only works for Ginny?

 A map of the bedroom.

Fanciful creatures (she loves those), including the lady from The Piano Guys' Don't You Worry Child video.
Our family. I'm the one on the far right, and that's Sterling in the wrap on my tummy.

More fanciful creatures.

There were lots more drawings that I'm not including here. So many drawings, representing the long periods of time I have to spend tending to Sterling in the evenings while the girls take care of themselves. I love these drawings, even as they make me sad. They represent a youngest child displaced, set loose from her familiar orbit and embarking on a new one that neither she nor I have figured out yet. Here's hoping we get it together soon, so that pile of papers can stop growing.


Susanne said...

How sweet! I love the picture of her and Sterling. Does she ever say anything about Sterling taking her place/taking all your attention?

I noticed she wrote Majd. Does she go by this most of the time now? Initially I thought it was just a family nickname, but maybe she goes by this at school as well?

It was great seeing her artwork. I especially like the family photo.

Crys said...

I was going to suggest putting him back inside your belly for a couple more weeks, but I'm guessing that is not an option. My parents said I was the worst. My mom claims chiropractors and camamille tea helped. My dad says that is wishful thinking looking back at the past and the reality is they would take turns driving all night because I would only stop and sleep when the car was moving. My one suggestion is try giving up all dairy. It is a Hail Mary desperation shot, but some of these colicky babies have a problem with proteins in cow milk. Some are just criers like me, in which case sorry girl until he gets a little older. I have two kids who definitely feel the displacement of younger siblings. They are my two who are my most cuddly and my most demanding for physical affection. They were just toddlers when they became older siings though so all o their memories they were displaced. I wonder how it would be if they had a memory of before. I'm sure that once he stops crying he'll more then make up for his disruption :). In the meantime it looks like she's fully taking advantage of her time but if she misses the reading maybe you could do audio books for a few weeks.

Nancy said...


Drawing is my Miriam's escape as well. I think escapes are somewhat healthy—and her drawings aren't scary at all (I hope). Miriam went through a stage where she wouldn't draw Benjamin at all ("He's gone and I like it that way.") but now he's included in pictures so I think we're over that.

We can usually get story time in nowadays but sometimes I will send the girls to bed without lullabies/back rubs so that I can get Benjamin to bed first. It's basically akin to torture for Miriam.

Rachel will read to herself (and sometimes to Miriam). Miriam used to just sit in bed and cry but now she'll read (what she can, which isn't much) or play (which I'm fine with) until I get in there. Sometimes she'll draw (though after etching her name into the bed, nighttime drawings have diminished) and sometimes she'll just fall asleep (and that kind of hurts my heart because I like to spend those couple of minutes tucking her in).

Anyway, I totally get it. Rachel was a screamer. Benjamin's a screamer.

Sometimes there's little you can do.

Though I will say that with Rachel, the one thing that really worked was a heartfelt prayer—I literally begged for her to fall asleep and stay asleep for a while because I was going to go insane. I think Heavenly Father knew that, too, because that was the first night she slept decently in her entire life.

Keep strong and mother on, Bridget.

And, Madj, middle children are the BEST! ;)

Bridget said...

Susanne, both girls just love Sterling. They don't resent him much, if at all, though obviously they're disappointed that I can't be loving mother to them at bedtime because of him.

Crys, your advice is so kind. I hadn't even thought of audiobooks!

Nancy, good to know someone else has been there. It really is getting better. Don't worry, God has heard His share of desperate "please let him sleep NOW" prayers from Bridget.

Liz Johnson said...

Hahaha! To be honest, when you said these pictures made you sad, I was expecting pictures of Sterling being mutilated with knives or pictures of you outside the house with Sterling and everybody else inside or something. Something far more traumatized than these adorable pictures!! (although I get why you're sad about them - I just had to admit that I was surprised when I actually saw them.)

Jenn Ridgeway said...

That's what I thought, too, Crys. My first daughter screamed for 7 weeks...until the doctor diagnosed a milk protein allergy. I gave up all dairy and soy and 2 days later she slept through the night. NOT an exaggeration. We eventually switched her to goat's milk, which has different proteins.

Nancy said...

Like the time my 2 year old loaded up her doll stroller, said, "This is the new baby," and then dumped the stroller down the stairs. That hurt.

Julia Taylor said...

I thought I would go nuts before we found out that reflux meds made our lives more quiet, and the kids' lives less miserable. I don't have any super advice. With my youngest I tried pretty much every variety of "go off this for two weeks and see if it makes a difference."

I think books on tape is a great idea. Maybe grandparents or an aunt or uncle could read a few stories, and then email or use drop box to send them? I hope, for the sake of everyone, that he grows out of these difficult nights soon!

Julia Taylor said...

I was just wondering. Do you miss having a live in nanny?

Bridget said...

I don't, actually. I'm not working this semester so I'm home a lot more. I think it would drive me nuts to have a nanny around all the time now.

Liz Johnson said...

Nancy, I apologize, but that made me laugh so hard. Yeah, that's a lot more of what I was expecting. HAHAHAHAHA oh man.


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