Several of my friends were due with babies in the weeks before my due date, so as I became increasingly pregnant, hormonal, uncomfortable, and anxious to meet my little girl, my Facebook newsfeed was full of new baby girls and boys.
There were lots of sibling photos — pictures of big brother or sister meeting the baby in the hospital. Those made me particularly weepy. They all looked the same: the older sibling, who was a baby just hours before, looking nervously excited as the mom or dad cradled the infant in their arms. Meanwhile, the baby is sleeping soundly, unaware that it’s being dangled over a cliff.
I wanted a photo of David and Mary Virginia like that, but we do not have that photo. When my parents brought David to the hospital to meet Mary Virginia, he ran to the farthest corner of the room, then pushed the wall six inches out just to create more space between the two of them. At home, my mom tried to show him pictures of her and he refused to look at pictures. And he usually likes babies.
He’s still mostly ignoring her, which is probably a good thing. It’s better than sneaking back to our room and dumping her out of her bassinet, which is what I did when my brother was born (and I was old enough to know better).
He’s starting to warm up, though. Yesterday he gave her his train book, which I’m not even allowed to read, and he started offering her his water and crackers. In the past he’s only done that for the cat.
I decided to ride the upswing, and stage a sibling photo. My big boy and my little girl. Him gazing at her in wonder, her looking at him in admiration.
He was so uncomfortable. This is his new shy face, the “if I don’t look at them, they won’t see me.”
He refused to give up his snack cup, so I cushioned it with my hand. We could crop that out if one of the photos turned out magical.
Then, when I saw his expression, I started laughing, and he didn’t know what was so funny so he started awkward-smiling.
And that’s when Mary Virginia started to get nervous.
She had every reason to be nervous. David was done with the photo shoot in about 10 seconds, and he let me know by saying “Get DOWN!” and swatting Mary Virginia’s head away.
When I was still in the hospital, I emailed my older sister and told her that David wanted nothing to do with his little sister. My sister has four children; she’s been through this before.
She wrote me back and said, “Don’t worry. Soon he won’t know what to do without her.”
And, I don’t know, maybe it’s the hormones talking, but that might be the nicest email a little sister could get.