When Darcy was three and a half (almost to the day) we welcomed Benny into the world. Darcy was so excited to have a sibling, not sure about the brother part, but nonetheless a little person to call her own. At three and a half she was super helpful, getting me diapers, wipes, grabbing me stuff while he was nursing and fending more for herself. She truly doted on Bennett and was a loving and caring older sister.
But she was still only three and a half. She was still too young to voice her emotions and how this new baby had affected her place in our family. Because I was the youngest child in my family, I never went through this transition. The night terrors that had disappeared started up again, so Parker was up with Darcy while I was up with Benny. She started giving me a very hard time because I was home on maternity leave with her and Benny throughout the summer. She became physical a few times, hitting, biting, which is not like her at all. She was a frustrated and jealous three and a half year old and expressed it in the only ways she knew how at the time. She very rarely took anything out on Benny, mostly on me or Parker. I think most kids go though an emotional time when a new sibling is born. It’s normal.
We finally got into a groove and she was able to adapt. As Bennett grew older, they played together all of the time. She was the most patient big sister and he rewarded her with his antics that she laughed at. They rarely fought and got along extremely well for siblings. Yes, she tried to control him, mother him, smother him sometimes with affection and rules, but their relationship was one to be envious of. I rarely had to break up a fight. She was happy to share her toys with him and play with him all of the time. She would distract him when I needed to pull something out of the oven. She was an incredible big sister, she was born to nurture others. I’ve never seen two closer siblings.
I now have an almost six and a half year old that has known the emotions that come with accepting a new sibling into their lives and then losing them. I’ve written previously about Darcy’s behavior issues, night terrors and therapy and what an incredible turn around this little girl has made. She is incredibly strong to have made it where she is today as a child. I am so proud to call this little lady my daughter. She is bright, out-going, kind, nurturing and able to own her emotions. It’s been a long road with a lot of work over the past year and a half, but we’ve all grown as a family.
Fast forward to present time. The night terrors have started. The behaviors are ramping up at school (a little) and at home. She is beginning to display her emotions through her behaviors again and not her words. This was easy to watch when she was younger, but she’s going into second grade next year. We just started back to monthly therapy. The first session we went to she was over the top, interrupting, asking tons of questions, trying to run the appointment so that she wouldn’t have to talk about her feelings. Her therapist even said at one point, ‘sheesh I haven’t seen you in a few months and I think you’ve forgotten how to talk about your feelings.’ I can feel the regression going on.
I don’t know if it’s the time of year, because this happened last May before Benny’s birthday too. I have a feeling that she’s struggling big time with the whole new baby, but can’t quite figure out yet how it’s affecting her. I have a child that went from only child, to having and loving a sibling, to only child and now she’s going to have a sibling again. I know that she’s older and the transition to sibling should be easier, but she doesn’t trust it. She actually said to me the other day that she hopes that the new baby doesn’t die too. I tried to explain that what happened to Benny was a freak accident and that it wouldn’t happen again, but I make no promises. I told her that I was pretty sure her brother Fletcher would grow old with her. She’s going through so much of the same feelings as I am. I just want to bubble wrap this little guy to make sure that nothing EVER happens. The difference is that I’m 35 and she’s 6.
It’s making me crazy that she’s going through this. That she’s scared to love Fletcher because of what might happen. That she can’t express herself because she’s too young to truly understand much of it anyway. No child should have to go through this ever. I’m angry. I’m sad. I want so much more for my daughter. She will never just be Darcy again, she will always be the little girl who’s brother died.
4 thoughts on “Sibling Addition & Subtraction”
Death changes your identity, when it involves someone so close to you. It doesn’t matter if you are 3 or 30. It’s the same with life. Darcy will never be the same Darcy she was before she met her little brother and she will never be the same Darcy she was before he was gone. It changes who you are forever and you can’t ever be the old person again. Having to watch your child hurt in the same ways that you do has to be one of the hardest things I could ever imagine. As a mother, you don’t only feel the consuming loss of your own baby but you feel the enormity of her loss too. You take on both pains. We all know that seeing your child hurt, hurts you more than it does them most of the time. How incredibly overwhelming. She will adjust yet again though, and she will never be the same Darcy she was after losing her brother. She will be a new Darcy, with another brother, a new love and a new way of expressing it. She will share her brother Benny with her new brother as they grow up and that will help her process it all a little bit more too. I think that you are right about May being a trigger for her. That was the biggest thing to happen in her little life at that time, so the spring coming is likely always going to remind her of him/that change. I don’t even technically “know” your family and my son’s birthday was yesterday. He turned 3, almost the same age as Darcy was when Benny was born. When I put him to bed he rolled over and said he loved me. All I could think about was Benny’s third birthday that is coming up and him not being beside you on that night. You not hearing the same words on his birthday this year. I cried. I miss him so much for you sometimes it hurts. I often wonder how my son is going to adjust to our new baby girl on the way and what kind of relationship they will have. I can only hope that they are as incredible together as Darcy and Benny seemed to be. I bet Darcy is going to be very overprotective over your new little guy at first and maybe even a little afraid of loving him but it will come with time. He is going to be smothered I’m sure but it will be with love. I hope you’re feeling well with your pregnancy otherwise and things are on track for a perfect June baby.
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Things are on track for a crazy June baby. He’s super acrive, but it’s such a nice feeling. I cannot wait to meet him. I’m so worried about how he will affect Darcy’s life, we never even considered the emotions that it would bring to the surface again not only for her, but for us.
As hard as it is for us adults to try and come to terms with something such as death -it is even harder for kids, in my opinion. People say that kids are resilient, and while I find this to be true -I also know that they grieve in their own ways. Meaning that how your daughter handles her grief is going to be different than how you handle it. No she won’t be the same Darcy as she was before -but you will never be the same you either. Not saying it will ever be easy, but you will both come out the other side with a stronger, more compassionate love. Hang in there.
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Thanks. I was 16 when my mom passed and I look at how thats shaped my life. She was only 4, it’s so hard not to be angry and bitter about it. I know what its like to carry this grief around from a young age, I just wanted so much more for her.