New Kid on the Block

For the second time in almost ten years, Rainey is a big sister.  And Lilla is no longer the baby of the family, at least not according to birth order.  That’s right, folks, there’s a new kid in town, and the girls are crazy about him.  But I have to admit, I wasn’t always so sure.

When we first announced we were pregnant, Lilla was thrilled — and Rainey ran to the bathroom to throw up.  I wasn’t surprised since her anxiety level on any given day is Homeland Security Red.  The girl likes to worry about everything — tornadoes, pollution, lost kittens, and whether or not she’s getting enough Vitamin K in her diet. When she’s not worrying, she’s worried that she’s not worrying.  So I understood her trip to the toilet.

Moments later, after regaining her composure, she admitted she was afraid something bad might happen to me or the baby.

“Sweetheart,” I reassured her, “the baby and I are both fine.”  And then I put her in charge of reminding me to take my prenatal pills.

“Okay,” she agreed and immediately jumped on board with her younger sister’s excitement.

Their enthusiasm waned, however, a couple months later at the ultrasound appointment when Scott and I decided to find out the sex of the baby.  Rainey and Lilla dreamt of having a little sister and refused to entertain the possibility of any other outcome.  So I was somewhat prepared for what came next when the ultrasound technician announced we were expecting a boy.

“But boys are gross,” moaned one of my daughters.

“Yeah, they pick their noses and eat their boogers,” griped the other.

“Whoa, boys are blessings, too,” I insisted and imagined my unborn son thinking to himself, “If that’s my family out there, then I’m not coming out.”

The complaints subsided, though, as the girls huddled around the ultrasound monitor, watching his movements and listening to his heartbeat, mesmerized by the miracle in the making.  Pretty soon, words of acceptance filled the cramped room.

“I guess it might be fun to play my Legos with him,” offered Rainey.

“And I’ll watch Star Wars with him and show him my dinosaur collection,” granted Lilla.

From that moment on, they embraced his boyhood as a gift, even if it came with cooties.

But as we made room for this boy in our hearts, we quickly realized we needed to make room for him in our house.  That meant the girls needed to bunk up.  This proposition was not hip to Rainey’s hop.

“Mo-o-m,” she whined, “Lilla’s so messy and she’ll ruin all my things.”

“No, she won’t,” I said calmly.

“But she’ll want to put princess stuff everywhere.”

“You don’t have to change a thing,” I reassured her.

“But where is she going to sleep?  She is NOT sleeping in my bed with me,” Rainey nearly fainted at the thought of it.

“Nope,” I said, and then I suggested, “What about bunk beds?”

Problem solved.  Rainey’s wanted bunk beds ever since the day she was born.  So in the remaining weeks of my pregnancy, the girls cohabitated without incident, eagerly helped decorate the nursery, and offered to lend their artistic talents to painting a mural on his wall.

But as his due date came and went, I still wasn’t sure how the girls would react when he finally made his appearance.  Will they put up with his crying?  Will they be jealous of all the attention he’ll get?  Will they mind eating cereal and sandwiches for dinner every night while I adjust to having a newborn in the house again?  Really, will any of us handle this change well?

Four months later, I’d say we’re handling it just fine.  (But don’t ask the girls if they want a turkey sandwich or a bowl of Rice Krispies.)  Rainey and Lilla love him fiercely.  They soothe him when he cries.  They brag about him to their friends.  They help me with countless chores around the house that keep things running semi-smoothly.

Just the other day Rainey said, “Remember how I freaked out when we found out you were having a boy?” How could I forget? “Well, I think it’s worth it because I love having a baby brother.”

Yep, this boy has changed them, he’s changed all of us, and not just from a family of four to a family of five.  He’s made each of us a little less neurotic and a lot more nurturing, a little less opinionated and a lot more open-minded, and a little less selfish and a lot more serving.  But that’s what babies do: they’re like our spiritual loofahs, rubbing out all our rough spots.  Sometimes the harder they scrub, the softer we are, as soft as their cute, little bottoms.

Speaking of bottoms, the boy needs a diaper change, and I think it’s Rainey’s turn.

Wait, who am I kidding?  She hasn’t changed that much.

Lilla, Wes, and Rainey

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