Before Olive went into the hospital, Josephine was really struggling with getting used to being a big sister. You could tell that she loved “Baby Olive,” but she was also obviously jealous and had a hard time expressing herself (because, you know, she’s two). I spent the first month of Olive’s life blocking toys that were thrown at the baby, and stopping hits that were coming her way. Jo and I would talk about how she was feeling as best we could, and how she couldn’t hurt the baby, but I was getting really concerned about how to handle the situation.
After Olive’s surgery, I was so, so worried about bringing her back to her sister. As much as I knew Josie didn’t mean to hurt the baby, toddlers struggle with the whole self-control thing. Would Jo be able to understand that her little sister was now even more fragile than a normal newborn?
A week into our hospital stay, I called Josephine at her grandparents house on my mom’s iPad. It was the first time she had seen her sister since we’d rushed her off to the hospital, since the PICU was under quarantine for flu season. Olive looked much better than she did immediately post-surgery, and I felt like we could show her to Jo without it being to scary for her.
I held Olive up to the iPad screen and waited for Josie to look at her. The look she gave her was one of total love and concern. She touched the screen at the spot where Olive’s scar was, and said, “Olive has big owie?” Eric was sitting next to her and explained that Olive was sick and did have an “owie,” but she would be coming home soon. Jo seemed so excited and ready for that, my concern about the situation just melted away.
Since we brought Olive home from the hospital, Josephine has been nothing but loving towards her. You can tell she’s still a little jealous for attention at times, but the way she expresses it is completely different. She kisses Olive’s “owie” better on a daily basis and helps me with Olive’s physical therapy exercises. The other day, we stretched Olive’s arms for her – Jo would gently stretch one while I would stretch the other.
My favorite moment, though, was this morning. Josie was having a rough morning and asked to go upstairs to get her “mommy blankie,” which is her lovey that she asks for when she’s sad. We went upstairs to get it and walked down to finish breakfast. Olive was in her bassinet next to the table sleeping, and as we walked by Josie stopped and looked at her. Then she picked up her blankie and slowly draped it over Olive. She softly touched Olive’s face and then knelt next to her and watched her for a few minutes. Then she slowly took her blanket back and sat down at the table to eat.
It wasn’t anything outwardly spectacular, but the love that this sweet girl expressed was overwhelming to me. It reassured what I had known all along, but what I had been blinded to by the transition period that we all had to endure. I’m so glad that I have two little girls that will be able to grow up together. I can’t wait to see them form a relationship and develop as sisters. I know from the two sisters that I have that sisterhood is a wonderful thing and I am so excited for these little girls to have that experience.