When we brought Harriet home from the hospital, I wasn’t sure how Alma would react. When I was pregnant with Harriet, whenever anyone asked me how I was preparing Alma, I would feel the tears very close to the surface. I was so sad for her. I was mourning the fact that she would be losing some of our love and attention.
I would picture her little heart breaking as our hearts transitioned from loving just her, to loving another. I asked everyone if it was really, truly possible to love another baby as much, and still love Alma as much as I always had. I couldn’t understand that it was possible. I couldn’t understand how Alma would deal with losing some of my love – because that was the only way I could fathom the transfer of love onto the second child.
It was confusing to me, so I imagined it was undecipherable to Alma’s 20 month old mind. How could we prepare my baby to understand that there was another baby growing in my belly, and soon she would come out and be real? There was no way.
I totally cried as we left Alma with my parents, and headed to the hospital. I felt like I was losing something – losing her.
But, as with all things concerning love, I was wildly mistaken. I was over-thinking it. I had Harriet, and instantly loved her as much as I have ever loved Alma – just like I was told I would. When I saw Alma again, I still loved her just as much as ever. Somehow, despite all my ideas to the contrary, my heart had enough room for both my girls.
And Alma? Alma got a sister. She came in, saw Harriet in her swing, and didn’t seem at all confused about the situation. She went right up to her and seemed to welcome her. Somehow she knew – she knew – this was her sister.
Now Harriet is three months old and I am constantly amazed at their evolving relationship. While we certainly have our moments when I think Alma would rather have all our attention – or, rather that Harriet not get much of our attention – she is generally a very good big sister. If Harriet is crying, Alma will run over and try to help her. She will give her her pacifier, or her blanket, or just touch her cheek. Harriet’s eyes are on Alma if she is anywhere near by, and Alma gets a lot of Harriet’s sweet smiles.
I think Alma is figuring out that Harriet will be a playmate someday. She will crawl up next to Harriet when she is playing on the floor. She will try to show Harriet how to use the toys on her playmat. She will share her toys with Harriet (I often find toys tucked into Harriet’s swing and carseat). She gets it.
I was so busy worrying about how Alma would react to losing our love, that I forgot to imagine how she would react to gaining the love of her sister. I am just starting to see glimmers of their sweet friendship developing, and I am so excited to see how strong it will grow.