It’s happened. The baby is here. Isla is here. Though briefly poignant, the first meeting between Esther and her new baby sister was far from magical. When Esther first came in the room she wore the strangest expression on her face. It was sheer conflict. There she was, dressed like a princess, mouth turned down, calm and curious. She got right up on the bed with the baby and me and wanted to hold her, but her face and eyes showed ambivalence. As if she knew she was supposed to feel elation but only felt confusion. After a tension- ridden hour of visiting, tug of warring and walking on eggshells to avoid setting this fragile four-year-old into tantrum orbit, we decided it would be best if Daddy took her home. She left in tears, clicking down the long hospital corridor in her plastic high heels and flowing dress, sobbing “I want to stay with Mummy” over and over. Had I been less exhausted, I might have cried too.
We have been home for five days and I am having that post-natal anticlimax thing going on. I want to go back to the hospital, to the intensity, to the contractions, to the immense focus it took to get this new child into our world. I want to revisit her birth again and again and again. She is beautiful. More like Ian than Esther was. She is calm and subdued, a tired little girl.
Esther loves her and hates her all the same. She is mostly very good with her but gets possessive and bossy and controlling. She keeps trying to wheel the bassinette, with baby in it, into her room because, as she frequently reminds us, she is her baby, not ours. The other day after we had a little spat, she came to me as I was nursing Isla and said, “I’m going away to another land because you are so mean. I would rather be with George Bush.” Hmmm.
I struggled to keep a straight face when she said this because if she detects that I am laughing at her all hell breaks loose. She is having such a hard time with her emotions and so am I. I have cried so much since we brought Isla home. Though I know that my hormones are in flux, it is more than that. I feel enormous guilt about doing this to Esther.
She looks so big to me now, like she doubled in size while I was in the hospital. She grew up while I was pregnant and I missed it. I am still too weak to pick her up though I promised I would as soon as I wasn’t pregnant anymore. Her hands and feet are huge compared to baby Isla’s. And her urge to control me is stronger than ever.