So here’s the game plan: We’ll tell Munchkin that he can come visit S in the hospital and we’ll take the baby out of the room. Then, after he is comfortable, we’ll bring Junebug in and introduce the siblings. We’ll also give Munchkin a small present and tell him that baby sister brought it. This way he won’t resent her for stealing S’s love and attention. The more plans S makes to frame events over which we have little control, the more apt the expression “Man makes plans and God laughs” grows. When Munchkin burst into the room for his first visit, S was breastfeeding while D snoozed in the corner, wholly unprepared to intercept the little man as he made a beeline for the bed.
To say Munchkin was keenly interested in meeting his baby sister would be an understatement. He wasn’t quite with it enough to understand the implications of S’s pregnancy when Junebug was conceived, but he was more than ready by the time S’s due date rolled around. He clambered on top of S’s bed and, ignoring D’s pleas to be careful, began to paw at Junebug’s swaddle in a rabid bid to unravel it so that he could see the baby in the flesh. To be fair, D’s exhortations did not go wholly unheeded. S’s mom took Junebug and, after readjusting her swaddle, decided to peel a bandaid off her foot. Junebug did not like this one bit and let out a yelp, prompting Munchkin to observe that “Nana’s not being careful.”
Considering how far Munchkin went off S’s script, we are thrilled with the way the siblings’ introductory meeting played out. Munchkin was excited about his present: “Mama, mama – look! Look what baby sister brought for me.” And in return he insisted on sharing his sandwich with her. We were a bit concerned he might try to cram bits of turkey into her mouth, but after receiving several stern warnings from all of the adults in the room, he contented himself with putting his offerings on Junebug’s nursing pillow. “She doesn’t have any teeth so she can’t chew,” S explained. Munchkin took this news with a healthy dose of skepticism and demanded to be shown proof that his sister’s mouth was indeed toothless.
And then, after about six minutes, Munchkin’s intense interest in his little sister fizzled out completely. He spent the rest of the visit playing with the assorted medical devices scattered around the room: raising and lowering S’s bed, giving nana a health exam, kicking around a balloon nana made out of a latex glove. When it was time to go, Munchkin simply waved bye and went off without the least bit of a fuss. And when he came to the hospital the following day, he barely acknowledged Junebug before turning his attention again to playing doctor. Only when it was time to head home and he learned that for the second day in a row mama would remain at the hospital did the hint of a teary quiver creep into his voice.
No doubt having S’s mom and D’s parents visit while we are in the hospital has helped smooth the transition for Munchkin. He has already learned his baby sister’s name. However, when S’s mom referred to Munchkin as the big brother, he balked. “I’m not brother,” he exclaimed, underscoring his name. The real test of sibling love then will come when we bring Junebug home from the hospital later today and the grandparents return to their homes.