Sunday, July 15, 2012

Brothers and Sisters

I remember, when I first became pregnant with Michael, how many people I talked to were shocked that I would be having another baby so soon after having Abigail.  But, from the moment that I met little Abigail, this was what I wanted for her.  My own closest sibling (in age) is a mere 16 months older than me, and I have always cherished the relationship that we had growing up.  It had a bit of love/hate drama to it, but in the best and worst of times, we always had each other- as playmates, as protectors, and as friends.  My brother lives far from me now, and we don't talk as much as I would like, but I know that I am the person I am today due, in large part, to having grown up so closely with him.

My mother has often told the story of how- after his hospitalization for a hernia surgery when he was a toddler- when he saw me again for the first time in the hospital lobby, his eyes lit up with joy.  In those early days, only I could "kiss better" his hurts.

We created entire worlds together, and spent our days residing in them.  We were never alone.

I never wanted Abby to be alone, or to remember a time when it was a reality for her.  I wanted her memories to begin in the midst of companionship, as mine did. 

And so, I brought her brother into the world, just 14.5 months after meeting her.

I knew that certain things would be difficult this way, and they have been.  It was exhausting trying to keep up with Abigail during my pregnancy, and in the end I had to concede most of her care to Tom when I began experiencing frequent contractions and terrible back pain.  It's tough to go out anywhere with a toddler who is still mastering the art of walking and stair-climbing, has yet to really learn to listen, and doesn't like to hold hands- all while carting around an infant.  It's a lot of diapers to be changed.  It requires some amount of triage, compromise, and split-second decision making in  response to many varied (but equally urgent) needs.  They both still need me so much.

But I can never, and will never, have a regret, even given how difficult Michael's infancy has been- not when I think about how effortlessly we were able to bring him into Abigail's world without any feelings of resentment or confusion.  There has only ever been love and utter fascination. 

I think we are now reaching a period of development for both of them in which their bond will really start to grow.  For now they are each aware of the other, and Michael takes great delight in watching the carryings-on of his big sister.  And Abby has begun to understand and embrace her role.

Here she is reading to Michael.

Of course, once I crouched down with a camera, he turned his attention to me, instead...
And later, I caught her giving him a hug...

..and tickles.

Of course, Tom, Michael, and I love to receive kisses from Abby, and we often make requests of her to plant one on our cheek (we, of course, ask on Michael's behalf).  But Michael is the only one for whom she will always comply.

But beyond the incredible joy it brings me to see the two of them growing up and growing together, I find utter fascination in simply taking in their developing likenesses.  Both so reflective of so many aspects of Tom, and of me.  So alike, and yet so different.

I took a bunch of pictures of them as they watched a Baby Einstein video with Mima this evening.

I think I could spend hours just gazing at their faces.  So many tiny variations in their features, but such a striking resemblance, all the same.

My two babies.  I wonder at who they will become, and how they will shape each other.  How they will shape me.