Being together in Utah after three weeks was such an incredible relief. I expected the transition into a family of four to be awkward and challenging, because Will and Shelby had developed their own routines in my absence and Shelby had avoided my phone calls while I was away. But being a family felt natural.
Over the weekend, Shelby wanted to be treated like a baby, but she also wanted to help take care of Daphne. By Monday, Shelby seemed fully adjusted to having Daphne and me at home, and she began taking her job as big sister very seriously.
photos Shelby set up this circle of stuffed animals to keep Daphne happy.
Before Daphne and I returned, Shelby explained her expectations to Will: “When Daphne comes home, I’ll be the mommy, and you’ll be the big sister and get Daphne diapers and hand me wipes.”
Now that we’re all together, Shelby loves helping me take care of Daphne. She really enjoys helping me bathe, lotion, and dress Daphne. One day, we put Daphne in a white headband with a pink flower, so Shelby searched for a matching hair bow for herself. She insisted on wearing the flower on the same side as Daphne’s, so I spent all day moving it from one side to the other, depending on whether Shelby was standing behind Daphne or looking at her.
Shelby insists on holding Daphne’s bottle during feedings and pushes my hand away if I try to help. When Daphne fusses, she offers her a pacifier and, in a soothing voice, whispers, “I know, baby, I know”—the very words I use to comfort and sooth Shelby when she is upset or hurt.
Shelby often asks to hold Daphne by herself, which means I prop up her elbows with pillows, place Daphne in her arms, and wrap my arms around both girls. In the evenings, when Will and I are trying to snuggle Shelby to sleep on the couch, we ask her to pick which parent she wants to hold her and which one she wants to hold Daphne. Inevitably, she asks for one parent to hold both girls at the same time.
Even though Shelby doesn’t really understand Daphne’s medical condition, she is still very interested in it. Daphne was discharged from the hospital with her sutures still intact, so when Shelby spotted them during bath time, she asked me when the doctors would “take out the blue strings.” When the pediatrician took them out on Tuesday, Shelby insisted on watching.
I’ve been extremely impressed by the way Shelby has jumped into her role as big sister. I knew she would be fascinated by Daphne, but I underestimated how gentle and attentive she would be. I worried that she would have a hard time sharing my attention, but since I have been away for three weeks, she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s sharing the spotlight. I’m so proud of her for being such a great big sister.