A letter for two.

Koala and Bebe,

You know, I have this memory from when my second brother (your local uncle) was born. I was six months younger than you, Koala. I don’t remember much about my mama being pregnant – I’m sure you will though – but I do remember the mixed feelings at having my grandparents over, my mom far away, the fact that it was a boy and I had wanted a girl…

The story goes like this: your uncle and I decided we would – in true Staten Island parlance – ‘take care of’ this baby when my parents would come home from the hospital. We were dressed in our ninja/warrior gear. I remember us hiding in the den, pacing along the top of the couch, waiting. Finally our grandmother called to us that mom and dad and baby were home, come see! I remember reluctantly jumping off the couch to greet them.

Needless to say, your younger uncle is still around and it’s definitely been worth nearly three decades of holding off on the weaponry.

Koala. When we first got pregnant this time, before we told anyone, you had this thing where you started feeling my belly and became more affectionate in general… After four years of squirming out of hugs or defining cuddles as, here, I sat in your arms for a sec, now let me go! it seemed like you couldn’t get enough.

It was weird and mysterious… like somehow you knew there was something up. Maybe you just wanted to have a baby like a lot of your friends. Maybe it was some feature of your age. Maybe kids really have a sixth sense about these things.

You’ve been an amazing big brother to Bebe – just the right mix of protective and annoying. You’re a teacher and a student to your sister. A comedian and a paramedic. A roommate and a conspirer. So when the new baby comes along, I know you’ll wiggle over and make room. Lovingly. Protectively. Curiously. And… unarmed (this week’s Purim costume-aside).

Bebe. You’ve grown a lot in the nine months I’ve had to consider how much you’re going to seem so grown the moment you become a big sister. In the days after you were born, you shared with me a habit of yours which I’ve assumed predates your birth. As you snuggled up on me that first day, you’d take your tiny fingers and lightly pinch my neck. It’s something you still do – to yourself, to me, to people with whom you feel safe.

We laugh about it a lot… but there’s just something so touching in the way you show your physical affection. You take my hand suddenly. Put your arm around my shoulder. Pat my belly and whisper to the baby.

Morning bed cuddles are your coffee. You’re generous with your kisses. You’ve always been armed with affection. It might get a little bit rough, B, but you’re going to grow into a wonderful big sister. You’ve had it in you since you were born.

It’s been a gift watching two siblings grow together, laugh together, love together. You guys have been, in some ways, a natural, inherent unit.

I’m happy we were able to give you this time together.

I’m happy that now we all get to start something new.

When the kids had a sleepover

Before kids’ bedtime last night, just for the hell of it, I offered Bebe to sleep on the pull-out bed from under Koala’s bottom bunk. Usually she sleeps in her crib, adjacent to the massive bunk bed, which has served mainly as a hulking piece of furniture potential.

She took us up on the offer.

As young parents trying something new and exciting often do, huz and I scrambled to get the bed made and sorted with her favorite items. The kids squealed with delight, and settled down into their places, facing each other.

Soon we found ourselves huddled outside the room, listening to their pillow talk.

“Shalosh… Arba… Osim shalosh…”

“Pesach already happened…”

“Shabbat shalom u’mevurach…”

“If we have shabbat, then we say to everybody shabbat shalom, and then we get a mamtak to eat…”

“If we go aroooound…”

“Ok, Bebe, it’s mesukan to talk when we going to bed.”

“But… but… but…”

There’s something to listening to your son using a firstborn voice to tell his younger sister:

“Ok, no more talking. I need to sleep.”

Finally, as he always does, Koala called out towards the hall – “Ima, I love you.”

This time, Bebe followed: “Ima, I love you.”

“I love you too, guys.”

And then, for the first bedtime ever, Koala added –

“I love you Bebe.”

“I love you Koala.”



Bebe update: Twenty three months

Hi B.

We discovered tea parties this month. You’re a natural… Not sure how you already knew to pour so well. You must get that from your father.

It’s all in good fun, even when you’re smothering your guests with your ferocious love.

Or tenderly picking flowers and crushing them in your tiny hand.

You’ve started asking to try mama things. Like wearing my boots. Putting on my deodorant. Using hand cream (which apparently works great over jeans, shirts, in hair, and eyes). And on the rare occasion I put on a lil makeup, you’re right there saying אניייי!

But you’re also trying brother things… in a really major way. Actually, one thing that stands out this month is how much you copy everything he does.

Maybe it’s a girl thing. But you’ve got your lil bffs picked out. I hope you have it as good as I did.

Can’t believe you’re just about two, Bebe.

Bebe update: Ten months.

Hello little nuzzle.

This month felt really long. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working my bum off at my job. Maybe because, as such, I’ve been doing better at appreciating every single day I get to spend with you when you guys come home from gan. Maybe it’s because you’re doing so many new things. But here you are, ten months.

One of the first things I noticed this month: You now talk. Or maybe the word is communicate. One day you just kept saying ‘ma ma ma ma’ and, to be frank, looking at my boobs. You asked me to be nursed. Girlie! And then you Pavlov-dogged me into picking you up, hugging you, feeding you, or just looking at you when you say it. I think you’re teaching us how to talk. You next moved on to abba. Can’t wait till you decide how the hell you’ll pronounce your brother’s name…

Luckily, it goes both ways – you tell us, and we tell you. Namely, ‘no.’ You’re starting to understand it. Not that I have to say it often, to be honest. But why oh why do you constantly go for the toilet bowl?

And, as of today, I’m going pump-free. With the helpful words of my metapelet, I choose not to look at that as the beginning of the end of our nursing, but instead, just focusing on me and you time. To celebrate, I breastfed you in a field today. Literally.

You started experimenting with standing on your own (but I’m not going to label you a raging feminist yet). Walking along your track of things to hold on to. Meanwhile, when I explained to your brother that you’ll be walking soon, he looked at me and looked at you and said NO. He’s threatened by you, B. Remember that when you’re older and you have male bosses someday.

But it’s made up for when you two ‘play’ together. That’s the best. And it keeps getting better. Every month that goes by, there’s more depth to your relationship. It’s amazing and it’s precious. Nothing like a brother and sister.

Keep it forever.

Bebe update: Five months.

My favorite thing of all time right now:

No one makes Bebe laugh like Koala does. He doesn’t even have to do anything major. Maybe he’s wiggling his bum. Maybe he’s opening and closing his mouth while staring into space. But if Bebe is there and watching, all of a sudden she’s cracking up in her goofy snorty laugh.

Oh, how every little girl wants a big brother!

Aside from laughter, we started with her new daycare situation, which, much like everything else Bebe does, has not been dramatic or stressful. She is and she lets things be.

Her appetite has intensified as aside from nursing, sucking my shoulder, and eating my hair, she is devouring fruits, now up to three kinds a day.

Yet she’s still pretty small. Little Bebe, looks just like her daddy. Blue eyes turned hazel. Grabbing, cooing, floor-swimming.

And the occasional plant-watching.

Bebe update: Four months.

Bebe! It’s been an incredibly rough month. And none of that is your fault. But the fact that you are so… calm. And sweet. And delicious. It just melts away the challenges I’ve been dealing with… when I’m lucky enough to see clearly through it and find your smile behind the haze.

Your laughing is a symphony of snorts and baby guffaws. It’s sloppy. I love it. You’re not loud like your brother was, with a deep laughter. And you don’t make yourself the center of attention like he did. You’re watching. You’re amused. And dimpled. And pleased.

But the best kind of laugh you have to offer is when you’re downright tickled by some shenanigan that Koala’s pulled – a funny face, a silly sound, or even his own infectious laughter.

You two have really bonded in the last week. You’re noticing each other more. And you, Bebe – well, you just adore your older brother. The looks you give him, the smiles, the coos… And he’s lapping it right up, too.

His concern when you – ‘oh no, Bebe!’ – roll over and he thinks you fell. After you’ve spit up, he’s very quick to point it out (maybe that’s just his own clean nature). And he thinks it’s downright hilarious that you don’t eat anything. Yet.

Yet… And soon you’ll be eating, drooling, crawling. Grabbing, taking, fighting. And it’ll be glorious. Because that’s what siblings do.

But for now, I’ll continue enjoying the adoration on both ends.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Hey, littler one.

My midwife says you’re ready to roll. Or squeeze yourself out of my body, whatever. She also says I’m ready. So I guess that means this is it, huh?

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to meeting you. So is your big brother, though I apologize in advance if things are a little bumpy at first on that front. It’s only natural, as I suppose we all find out having siblings.

Last time, after giving birth to Koala, the thing I missed the most about pregnancy was being so close to him all the time. Feeling him moving, doing his thing. I think I will miss that most about pregnancy with you, too.

This time has been so much easier in so many ways – and gone by faster. I actually feel a bit guilty about already not having the same kind of time and attention I had the first time around. But that’s the way it goes, right? One day I hope you’ll understand it. Better my kids should have siblings, I think.

So… thanks for being so calm and easy so far. I appreciate the support. And let’s make the exit strategy a simple one: get out in one piece, and leave me in one piece. Then we’ll really let the fun begin…

Can’t wait.