So today Frankie wails that ‘pain cry’, that noise that hits the bottom of your spine. You drop whatever is in your hand and proceed like Usain Bolt to comfort, to nurture, to investigate what the happened. You find your eldest jump back in fear, muttering ‘I dunno, I was just giving him his soother’. At this moment, I now know to check for marks, bumps, scratches or teeth marks. Yes you read it right, teeth marks. Why you ask? Because Kayla is jealous of her baby brother, the sibling rivalry has landed.
Kayla was one of the first people to meet Frankie, this was important to me. Frankie was supposed to be Katie. Katie was the name Kayla chose for the baby in mammy’s belly. To some extent Kayla did not like Katie. She was the one preventing mammy from jumping on the trampoline. She was the one who made mammy tired and sleep all the time. She was the one who made mammy a hormonal raving lunatic. Everybody assumed I knew the sex, a girl obviously. Kayla would point at bump and announce mammies having a baby, her name is Katie.
In matter of fact, Katie was a boy. Me and my girl-friends were super sneaky at a re-date scan and told no one, not even Dadog. We shopped blue on the sly, stashing in random no go areas around the house. My friend Sue also had an imaginary cousin who just had popped a boy that weekend to be exact. I cannot remember if we named this baby. Anyways we bought him a lot, he was spoilt.
As any mam would, I tried to prepare Kayla. She was having none of it. She already has a brother, why would she need two, she would reassure me. Her father and I are separated and he had a beautiful little boy Charlie last year
I explained to Kayla about the approaching birth, I got animated books in the library, the arrival of siblings, the big sister, how to help mammy. I encouraged her to feel baby kick, talk and sing to my bump. I had never ending headaches with the amount of times she sang ‘twinkle-twinkle’ into the micro-phone (my belly button). Katie would summer sault to the sound of her voice. As my belly grew, I involved Kayla with everything. Getting my hospital bag ready, putting the crib together and even brought her along to my combined G.P visits.
Unfortunately I had a few complications, I have thrombocytopenia. I hemorrhaged which led to a couple over-night stays in hospital. Kayla did not like when Katie did this to me. Kayla did not like the idea I was not at home with her. Kayla started to resent Katie.
Then one day in March, two -weeks early Katie became Frankie. Kayla was excited to come see me and her new brother. She had a cuddle but we knew she was disappointed. She suggested swapping him with a mammy in my ward.
I became an over protective mummy, I snapped be gentle, whispered be quiet, pulled her away from hanging over the moses-basket as she almost knocks it down. She accepted her new sibling. She helped with all the nappy changes, picked out his outfit for the day and helped make bottles.
Kayla was involved in everything so I’m rather shocked when she ha sudden bursts of aggression. Frankie clearly did nothing to physically hurt her, emotionally she was broken. She did not deny his existence. She enjoyed the special attention from visitors. She enjoyed having mammy home all day, every day. But unfortunately I could see cracks and slight resentment creeping in. Frankie got to sleep in my room. Frankie got lots cuddles. Kayla did not have my full attention anymore. Kayla was no longer my only baby.
Naturally I tried spending extra one-on-one time with her. We made jig-saws, watched girly movies and went through photo albums of her as a baby and toddler. I let her unwrap any present Frankie got. Kayla is spoilt rotten and everyone dotes on her, I think she got more presents than Frankie in his first week.
Then one day, I left her to mind Frankie, for two minutes, while I went upstairs to get a blanket. I thought I could trust her. Whatever she did to him, it hurt. I never heard a scream like it from a baby in all my life. He was six-pounds in weight, not an ounce of fat to be seen. She tried to reassure me ‘he just started crying’ until I exhausted all options and checked his nappy. There it was, a red raw mark on his thigh. The fury, the angry, the utter disbelief raged through my body. I almost wanted to hold her down and do what she did to him. I wanted her to feel the pain she occurred to Frankie. I obviously could not do that, so I asked what really happened.
I encouraged her to tell me how she felt. I gave her as much attention as I possibly could. I involved her with every aspect of bringing Frankie home, to helping out, naming and even bathing in the first few weeks. She had a hidden streak of jealousy that only arose when left alone with my little man.
Just as I thought she was adjusting, learning to trust her again. Boom, like a happy slap to the face – she bit him, in the arm this time. The cry melted my heart. The incident melted my brain. Why would she do such a thing?
At this stage Frankie is smiling, cooing even sharing a bath with her. She just gets these sudden urges of being in control and hurts him, for no reason, whatsoever. When I’m feeding Frankie, I feel she is trying to hijack all my attention. Don’t get me wrong, this has only happened three-times, although once is enough. She just gets these sudden urges to hurt him. Whether it is attention seeking, power or sudden outbursts of jealousy I shall not be leaving her alone with Frankie until I can trust her behavior has changed. It’s an unfortunate fact of life, the sibling rivalry has landed.