Lucy was crying again. At three days old, it was just something she did. Still, it was stressing her sister Sarah out. It has been less than two years since Sarah was in the same helpless infant state herself. Sarah knew babies. There were some she saw at daycare, but none were this small. Lucy was tiny in comparison. She yelled a lot, too. Oh, and she was obviously staying. For Sarah, the whole thing was overwhelming.
I knelt down. Sarah stood there, looking at her sister with sympathy, worry and confusion. Lucy complained as I held her, opening her mouth and turning her head from side to side, yelling when the universe did not immediately provide sustenance: "Lucy's crying because she's hungry," I explained.
Sarah instantly took off for the kitchen, saying, "It's OK, Woocy. It's OK, Woocy," as she padded along in her little house shoes. She had a plan. I heard her open the cabinet where we keep some of her food and start rummaging through it and I smiled, figuring she had gotten distracted along the way.
Still kneeling at toddler-height, I looked down at Lucy. This is exactly what my wife, Rachel, and I wanted—two kids, two years apart. Sarah and Lucy would be close enough in age to be friends, and far enough apart to have their own social circles when they got older. Though we'd tried to prepare her for what was coming, Sarah didn't know exactly what to do with Lucy. Sometimes she was proud, and sometimes she was mad. Sometimes she acted out.
I could empathize with Sarah when she got stressed out. Babies are a little weird: For that first week, Lucy turned the color of a cooked lobster when she cried. And she didn't cry a lot, not for her age, but it was still often enough to unnerve her big sister. I knew we would be fine eventually; Sarah could certainly be forgiven if it took her a while to get used to the newest addition.
Finally, I heard Sarah coming back from the kitchen. Her little sentence—"It's OK, Woocy. It's OK, Woocy"—got louder and louder. She appeared with a cup of lemon pudding in her hand. Sarah stopped and very gently offered her favorite food to her new sister. "It's OK, Woocy," she said.
I knew we would be fine eventually. I didn't know it would be so soon.