Do They Know?

Alex is big enough to understand. In a couple of days, the baby’s coming out of Mommy’s tummy. He’s spent the last several months putting his hands on my belly and giggling every time Baby kicks him; he talks about it to everyone. But he was 21 months old when Julianna was born. He can’t possibly comprehend the changes about to come down the pike.


Can he?


Julianna, of course, has no clue. Yes, she knows “baby.” She loves her doll babies and every baby she meets. But the reason for Mommy’s changing body shape, the reason she’s always in a stroller now instead of on my hip, the reason she moved to a new bed…no clue. Several times, I’ve taken her hands and put them on my belly, saying, “There’s a baby in Mommy’s tummy” and signing “baby.” She always gives me this Mommy, you’re silly look and laughs. No clue. Concepts are way over her head.


Aren’t they?


But if they really don’t get it, why are they acting the way they’re acting?


Alex screams when he doesn’t get his way. He completely falls apart over nothing. A missing shoe, even if it’s right under his nose; being unable to get the cap off the toothpaste—these things are the end of the known universe. Julianna will whine for hours, and refuse to communicate by sign; she shrieks if Alex gets anywhere in her personal space; when you try to get her to walk, she picks up her feet and howls.


That’s not to say that they’re a universal nightmare, because they’re not. There are still plenty of times when Alex is thoughtful, helpful, giggly and sweet. Julianna will stick out her tongue and give us a silly grin as she walks back and forth from Christian to me; at other times, she loves to be tickled and munched on, and asks for more. She and Alex still love to wrestle, and bedtime is not complete for either of them without a hug from Big Brother or Little Sister.


At the same time, though, there has been a clear shift in behavior the last few weeks. So perhaps the kids “get it” more than we think they do. Or maybe they don’t understand what’s going to happen; they just know something is going to change, and the very not knowing is unsettling them.


If that’s the case, then what’s it going to be like after the baby arrives? Better, because we’re already in transition…or harder, because this is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg?


Addendum: it occurred to me this morning as I was stumbling wearily around the park with Alex while Julianna had PT…it’s no wonder they’re ambivalent. I know as well as can be known, what’s coming down the pike, and I’m ambivalent. Everyone comes in this week and says, “Two days! Are you excited?” And I think, Ugh, mostly I just want my body back! I’ll deal with the rest as it comes. I’m tired, queasy, and listless. I wish I had a more beautiful or poignant response, but that’s the plain truth. Baby raptures will come in a few days. For now, I’m just ready not to be pregnant anymore!