|The first visit in the hospital to meet her brother|
Logically, if little changes can have such an impact, you'd think that fitting another baby into our not-so-big house would be earth shattering.
Except that it wasn't. Maybe it helped that we weren't in a position for life to be all that different when Patch arrived. Since I'd been sick and in the hospital at 36 weeks, all our extra hands and extra help had been poured into that time (when it was very much needed) and I found myself, post c-section, at home by myself with a four year old, a two year old and a brand new baby the day after I got home from the hospital. Paul was back at school day and night and my parents, who'd spent weeks helping out, really had to get back to California after an already longer-than-expected trip.
Patch split his time between a bassinet I set up behind the baby gate in the kitchen and dozing in the Moby Wrap while we went about days that looked more or less like the days that had come before he arrived.
And honestly now I can't imagine it any other way. Sometimes as I watch Patch and Mae playing together I can't imagine a more constant, consistent type of "therapy."
It started around the time that Patch learned to crawl. At that point he decided that Maggie was pretty much the most spectacular person the planet. He followed her around the house all day long. For the first few months she evaded him. She climbed up on top of the toy chest where he couldn't reach her... and he found that he had extra motivation to learn to stand.
Still, unconditional, unwavering love is hard to resist and Mae was no exception.
Over the course of the last few days Mae has gradually been adjusting to being in California. It hasn't been a horrible transition, but it hasn't been easy either. She's waking up early, upset with the time change, and is absolutely adamant that she doesn't want to leave the house to go outside and play (which is where we spend most of our time here).
|Mae peering over the baby gate at Patch in his|
And that was only the beginning of Patch looking out for his big sister. Later in the day we went to the store. As I leaned over to reach the dairy free yogurt Patch started to sound the alarm. "Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Uh-oh!" I looked up to see him pointing at his sister (who was in my cart) and turned to see that she'd leaned as far as she could out of the cart and had managed to reach a display of gluten filled rolls and was frantically trying to open them before I noticed. Patch had saved the day.
Perhaps the best part, however, is that the concern is mutual. If Patch starts to cry there's a good chance Mae will come over and touch his cheek. If I can't get him to stop, tears are likely to start to roll down her own cheeks as she points at him, upset that he's upset, demonstrating that she very much does possess empathy, especially when it comes to her little brother.
A couple of weeks ago Mae was walking across the room when she stopped and stared at Patch. Then she walked over and threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. I watched, making sure she didn't squish him in her overzealous cuddle. Then she turned and walked over to the wall, a funny look on her face. She pulled a chair over and climbed up and stared at the picture, a small smile on her lips. She sighed and stared at one particular picture before climbing back down and going play. And the picture? It was this one:
At the end of a follow up evaluation with the local university a few weeks ago I called Sadie and Patch into the room so the evaluator could see the three of them together. Patch came charging over. He immediately sat down as close to his sister as he could get and started coloring on the same piece of paper, right next to her. She didn't bat an eye and we watched as they took turns with the crayons, side by side.
After all, if there's one thing we've learned it's that the greatest joys I've witnessed for our little group have been the result of letting our hearts stretch to contain the challenges and happiness that this call to love brings... and it sometimes seems that the challenges and joy so often come hand in hand when they show up at our door!