Thursday, February 28, 2013

Social Experiments with Ella

The past few weeks we have been conducting a series of highly intensive, well thought out and planned social experiments with Ella to try to introduce her to the idea of a new baby in the house. We have pulled resources from many factors, studied and analyzed her behaviors, adapted our strategies, and... okay fine. My sister-in-law and good friend coincidentally both had babies within a few days of each other and we were asked to baby-sit a 9 month old baby for someone in a bind yesterday.. It wasn't all that thought out or planned. But, I would have to say, it seems to be working nicely...

Social Experiment #1 - Meeting her new Cousin
When we went to meet her new cousin in the hospital for the first time a few weeks ago.. well.. let's just say Ella was less than thrilled. While I wasn't expecting complete perfection in the first round (come on.. I'm not that hard to please) Ella slightly outdid even my expectations by refusing to even sit next to the new baby, screaming and arching away when I tried to hold them both, reaching and lunging for me when Daddy tried to hold her so I could hold the baby by myself, whining, fussing, throwing a fit, and generally making me sincerely wonder WHAT we were thinking a few months ago when we decided having another baby would be a good idea...

Social Experiment #2 - A Series of Chance Encounters
Throughout the next few weeks we selectively exposed Ella to the new babies in her life with a series of (of course) well planned out encounters. A glimpse at church, a few minutes at MOPS, some time at Grandma's house. And slowly slowly things started to actually get better. It started with a slight wave to the baby when she spotted her across the pew at church. Then a general curiosity to who was holding the baby and where she was at all times. It grew to a touching of the hair and even of the fingertips and eventually mommy has gotten to hold baby and Ella. At the same time. Without screaming. Success!

Social Experiment #3 - A baby in our House
The third and final installment in this series (so far) occurred yesterday. We got a call asking if I would be willing to watch a 9 month old baby for a few hours for someone in a babysitting bind. Of course I hesitantly and nervously, with shaking voice and quivering knees, confidently assured them I would be able to care for their child by replying, "Umm... yeah.. yeah.. sure... uh.. we could.. probably.. umm.. do that..." It wasn't this different baby I was so concerned about. It was the other not-so-baby in the house who insists on still acting like a baby at times and has had issues with me having anything to do with other babies, or children in general, in the past (And by 'issues' I mean screaming-gas-bubble-inducing-tummy-aching-hair-pulling-out intense dramas..). To say that I was terrified of what was going to happen between us was an understatement.. But I held strong and conquered the intense desire to call the parents minutes before arrival, feigning a very sudden onslaught of a serious and extremely contagious disease.. *Pat on the back for me* Right on time the new baby arrived and as I took her in my arms with Ella giving me the sideways stink eye, I monotonously repeated to myself "It's only 4 hours. It's only 4 hours." And then it happened.  Nothing. Seriously.. Ella ate the rest of her meal in her high chair, copied the baby's actions, sat on my lap together, and even leaned over and kissed her when she was done eating. Complete and utter shock on my part. And it got even better. I put the 'babies' on the floor to play, actually in hopes I could get Ella down for a nap, but she took off. She wanted to play with her new friend. For almost 2 HOURS these girls played on the floor together, ripping toys and puzzles apart, crawling after and chasing each other, speaking their own baby language to each other, and in general having a FABULOUS time. I was in awe. I could really see Ella trying to keep up with the other baby, trying harder to do some things she could do that Ella couldn't. The day went exponentially better than I could have ever expected it to and I felt my previous feelings of anxiety/fear/distress/horror/despair slight concern over the arrival of our new baby in 5 short months start to change.. I finally allowed myself to feel wholehearted excitement for what is to come instead of it being laced and overshadowed with fear. Not that I'm not overjoyed about this new little person growing inside me, I just know it's going to be hard. I'm sure there will be many challenging moments in the months to come.. In fact, maybe we've already maxed out in the 'good days with Ella and a baby' department for the.. year. But there is a glimmer of hope and a different kind of anticipation that wasn't there before.

In fact, it almost made me wish we had gotten started on this whole sibling thing a awhile ago...


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that Ella has become a baby fan! That's awesome! And I love the picture! Too funny!