Love seeks the advice of those who know better

by Craig on January 24, 2012

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I need a little advice on how to love.

My baby sister has a two-year-old daughter…
works full time as a successful chiropractor…
and is seven months into her pregnancy with twin girls.

She’s hinted that she feels overwhelmed with the idea of twin babies, and a toddler, and a job, and no mom around to help. My mom would, in fact, be perfect for this time – being a mom of twins herself. But mom isn’t on this earth anymore.

So here’s the thing.

What can I do to help in the weeks leading up to the birth of my baby sister’s new daughters – and after?

I’ve already offered to clean house and babysit while she sleeps in the afternoon.
She says she’ll take me up on that, but hasn’t yet.
Should I find a day when she’s home, and I know she’s home…
and swing by…and convince her to accept my help and get some rest?

Another fact…

I’m not the best with babies…
I become “fun” uncle later…
when babies start to use sentences.

But I could change that.

And another thing…

She’s kind of upset that nobody’s thrown a baby shower yet.

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Is this because these babies are not her first?
Should she not expect one?
Or should I organize one?

You see, I don’t know this kind of stuff – but you do.

And there’s this…

considering that I’m generally awake at 3AM writing these posts…
I could get to bed earlier, 6 or 7 PM for a while…
then I could drive over and be available overnight to take care of the babies.

But I’d need some training. Maybe she could teach me everything I’d need to know.

Also…

my insomnia affects everything from concentration to energy to health. But I can still perform pretty darn well for short bursts – even on most bad days. And isn’t that what taking care of two newborns overnight would entail – being available for short bursts? Or am I wrong there?

I want to know how to help my sister best…
alleviate some of her worries…
give her the support that she needs…
because, in a way, since my mom’s been gone…
and even though she’s married now…
it’s still kind of my job.

You guys are the perfect people to give me advice.

There are baby pictures in it for ya.  (ツ)

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Of real human babies even…

twin baby girls all in ribbons and bows (I know my sister)…

and you know you heart babies.

So please, fire away in the comment section and help a brother out – ok?

I’ll just sit here…

waiting…

listening…

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Nacole@sixinthesticks January 24, 2012 at 9:37 am

hey Craig,

well, being the mom of four girls, i feel this is something i can help answer–this is my thing. im sure you will get a lot of great advice from some of the other women as well.

first of all, its amazing and beautiful that you want to love and help your sister in this way. and i think you are right–with her mom gone, she will need some extra support.

my mother and grandmother helped when i was pregnant all four times (one time i was on strict bedrest and two of which i was told by the doctor to do nothing but the basics for myself–no heavy cleaning, etc)…they cleaned house to get ready for the baby, came home with me from the hospital to help settle us in, and my grandmother stayed with me for about a week after. i dont have a brother, but if i did and we were close, i think i would love for him to come over and help out. sometimes its hard for mothers to call up someone and ask or say, “get over here”, but if someone is willing to step in, we are elated and thankful for the help.

so, to answer your question about whether or not you should just pop over, i think you probably should–thats what my family did–you couldnt keep my grandmother away with an army–she’s like a panzer. i think you should pop over often–(maybe two to three times a week?) and say “im here to help” and you will know if she is not in the mood–especially if you are close, you will be able to read her. once the babies are born, i think it would be ok to tell her you would like to station yourself on the couch or spare room for as long as she needs the help at night–and see what she says–and yes, newborns are short bursts–just changing diapers after she feeds them helps a lot–or taking a shift and feeding them while she sleeps. if she goes on bedrest–thats a whole other ball game. she may need you to check in a couple times a day or stay sometimes with her while her husband is at work.

as for the baby shower, yes it is considered proper etiquette to only expect people to attend one for the first baby. but, i have had friends give showers for all four of mine–because they wanted to–not because i asked. this was especially helpful with my last one, because she was a surprise and we had gotten rid of ALL of our baby stuff. probably the reason your sister is a little miffed is because your mom is not here. generally speaking, grandmoms do all the buying and seeing that all the needs are met. my mom has done that for all four babies–i have been amazed at what my parents have been willing to do for the arrival of each baby. i think it would be fine to have a shower–since your sister is having two babies and will need double everything–and invite only family and close friends–you should be able to explain your sister’s need with the two babies and her mom being gone–and hopefully they will be sympathetic.

also, just want to add that though you are the fun uncle when they start talking, there is nothing on this earth like a baby. get to know them intimately, and you will experience something glorious.

whew :’) i feel like i just taught a college course on etiquette and baby 101! ha ha!

im sorry for beinglong-winded, but i hope this will be helpful!

your helpful friend,

Nacole

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Andrea Dawn January 24, 2012 at 11:46 am

That’s such great advice, Nacole. Not really anything I can add. A specific “Amen” to getting to know them babies intimately . . . truly a glorious experience.

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Nacole January 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

thank you, Andrea Dawn! i like to help with my limited expertise! ha ha! and yes, those babies are something glorious, God-sent, heaven fresh on them.

Craig, i agree with Victoria, i sense some VERY interesting posts coming out of this, and i cant wait to read about it!

oh, and sorry if im just stating the obvious, but with her mom not around, im sure it would be a comfort to her to know that she can call you anytime day or night if she goes into labor and the hubby is not available. :)

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Craig January 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm

and make sure to tell her that I’m available in case she goes into labor at an inconvenient time – check!

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Craig January 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm

seriously Andrea Dawn– why are babies so special – why do you women like babies so much. I know that sounds sexist – but someone brings a baby into a roomful of women and there is gushing everywhere – I don’t see the same happening in a roomful of men – even dads – they’re messy – they never communicate accurately – and they’re messy – and a cry – and they’re messy. I just don’t get babies. anyway – God bless you!!

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Craig January 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

really – getting to know babies who can’t talk is glorious? I read tons of women – I’have a strong feminine side – but I just don’t get babies – they poop – they spit up – they cry – they never say anything intelligible – we’ll see – if I’m over there a lot maybe – and another thing – whatever you do for them – they’re going to forget – like for instance, why buy a baby present for their first birthday – for the mom maybe – but not for the baby. Maybe these twins will prove me wrong – awesome advice Nacole – thank you my friend – that WAS a college course – a welcome one!

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Cora January 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Why is it you can absolutely adore a cat who poops, spits up, doesn’t talk, meows, etc., etc., and you don’t get it with a baby????? Kittens are NOTHING — can’t hardly crawl, eyes are glued shut, and “never say anything intelligible”. Yet, you are a mush when it comes to them. So tell me the difference. I personally think you are afraid of them. Too fragile. And they look you straight in the eye —– right into your soul!!!!!

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Craig January 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Cora!!!!! Stop with all that effective logic!!!!!! I can’t help but laugh – still you have too much wisdom. You know me too well. It might just have to be ninja kittens at midnight for you! Watch your back – and don’t trust your dog – he can be bribed by the kittens – a little bit of steak maybe.

Gah! but that logic is so sound….

and they look into your eyes, by the way, because they instinctively are attracted to concentric circles – that’s the only thing I remember from developmental psych.

but useful here i think.

I feel better – I won a point in the debate :)

God bless.

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Nacole@sixinthesticks January 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

you’re welcome. i agree with Cora, Craig!!! but im glad she argued with you and not me because she can get away with it! NOT FAIR!!! and does it really matter why they look into your eyes? they melt with their pure, extravagant helpless need. that’s love at its purest–what your blog is all about. dive into it and you wont be sorry. i laughed out loud at you and Cora! i just love reading the banter between you two! ha ha!

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Craig January 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

but that’s exactly why I’ve never had a dog – they’re so darned needy! Babies are so demanding and needy – I don’t know how you’ve had four – how you HAVE four. You are a hero you know!

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Nacole@sixinthesticks January 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

awww….thats sweet, Craig. thank you. needed that on a week like this week!

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thefisherlady February 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Nacole, I am like Andrea Dawn and agree you ‘said it all’ perfectly!

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Victoria January 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm

All good questions from a brother. I remember my brother helping me with my first one and it meant a lot to me.
I’m pretty sure showers don’t happen until closer to the end. Some people even wait until after the birth. I think what I would do is to call the office where she works and tell them you are thinking of throwing a shower for your sister but if they already had planned one then you’d just take a gift over at that time. If they haven’t planned one then you can ask someone there if they would help you plan it. I doubt anyone would turn you down…they’d probably love a brother helping.
As for help now…oh yes…do what you can. One of the best things you can do is take the two year old on outings to your house to play with Laska or playland kinds of things, something like that. By the way, if you do playlands, make sure her hands get washed before and after. :) Maybe you can help with dishes, cook a meal, or whatever, but I really think occupying the two year old will be a blessing, especially after the twins come.
As far as over nighters…I would expect the Dad will handle helping her with the babies, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask if she needs you. I’m sure that would mean a lot to her. Maybe during the day you can help with laundry because there will be mountains of that. Again…occupying the two year old (who will love helping with chores) will help immensely.
Another thing that might be a big help to her will be shopping. She might really love your help there. And did I happen to mention occupying the two year old? :)
Good luck with all this. I see some interesting blogs on the horizon. This should be fun.

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Nacole January 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm

great advice, Victoria! very funny, too–the last part. im very much looking forward to reading about all of this, too! she’s right, Craig. get plenty of quality time in with your precious niece! :)

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Craig January 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm

and occupying the two-year-old – this is exactly the kind of stuff I needed – thank you Victoria – shopping – chores – laundry – and occupying the two-year-old – check – – check – – thank you – God bless you!

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Mari January 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Your sister is blessed to have you as a brother. I hope she knows that! Well I’m not a mom but have been there for close friends during their pregnancies and I have learned a few things about what is helpful:
* After the first baby an alternative to the “baby shower” is a baby “sprinkle” and its a smaller version of a shower. Having hosted a couple of showers, I will warn you that it can get expensive to host one!
*I think a great help would be to offer to babysit for the toddler once she goes into delivery since the father will probably be with her.

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Craig January 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Awesome ideas both Mari – thank you – I think I will plan something – following your advice and the others’ and the specific babysitting offer for sure. Brilliant – thank you Mari. God bless!!

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Dawn January 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Dear Craig,

Ask her to make a list of ways you can help her just to see what she comes up with. How long does she have till delivery day? If the 2-year-old is not used to being with you, you may want to begin small outings now so when the big day comes it is not traumatic.

Also, do the small things like shine muddy shoes, make sure there is bread and milk in the house. Bake brownies. I, personally, like the night shift idea. You are up anyway and they need to be ready for the day shift. Hmmmm! This is going to be a growth experience for everyone!

I need a lot of support right now and my one sister just calls and asks, “How are you?’ and before I can answer she says, “Oh, you’re not good. Don’t tell me different.” and she tells me the next move we’re going to make. When you’re stressed, having someone take charge who really knows you is worth its weight in gold.

Lots of great “stuff” in this comment column from everyone,
Dawn

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Craig January 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Dawn, there is so much in these comments – and you have added – the list thing I think I’ll do – and spending more time right now with my niece is a good idea – and I think they’ll be bringing someone in for nights – they have the means to do so – so we’ll see about that – so muh good stuff you added – thank you Dawn – thank you my friend. Hang in! God bless!!

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Katie January 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Everyone has offered great advice. I am not a mom, but I do work in daycare. I have taught all the ages of daycare and currently work with 6 month olds – 1 1/2 year olds.

There is nothing like having a baby in your arms and connecting with him or her. Yes, they cry, poop, spit up….. all things that can get crazy. Sometimes they cry and you have feed them, cleaned them and they have slept. Sometimes your arms hurt from holding the crying baby. I’m not gonna lie, it can get hard and hectic. But it is all worth it because of love.

Ask yourself — which I am sure you already are since you wrote this blog — what would love do? Then do it. Ask her how she wants or needs help. She may not tell you, so then show up and help around the house.

After the babies are born. And you are comfortable with all the tasks of taking care of babies and two year old, babysit…… and make her take some time out for herself away from them. Many moms don’t take time out to just be themselves and do what they love: shopping, crafting, movies, are just a few ideas.

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Craig January 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Good advice Katie – I’m so grateful for it! And I think I will have to force her to take the time – and I can’t wait for her to ask – I’ll watch for signals – and make sure I’m not imposing – make sure I’m available – and I’m there. Thank you again Katie – and God bless you my friend.

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Lisa Maria January 25, 2012 at 8:09 am

Craig, you’ve received such wonderful advice from everyone…there’s really nothing I can add, except to tell you that you’re the only one who knows your sister well enough to know which tings to implement and which to hold back on. What I mean is, some people…like Dawn…appreciate a take charge person, others might feel that their toes are being stepped on. (speaking of toes, I hope I don’t step on any myself, but you don’t mention the daddy at all…you don’t want to step on his toes either) You know your sister, you love your sister and you would know best what boundaries your relationship require. I think its so sweet that you want to be there for her and once you communicate that to her hopefully she’ll let you know how you can do that.

As for the babies thing…I understand you…I think you just need to jump in with your eyes closed and be amazed. Women are wired for babies, but men’s hearts are stolen pretty quickly. The first time you see those babies smile at you…you’ll see! My husband was so overwhelmed the first time he held our firstborn…she looked like a toy in his hand, reaching from fingertip to before his elbow! He was so happy to leave me and the baby to my mother’s care (He washed diapers for me, but he wouldn’t change them!) By the second, he was a more confident dad and did more. By the third, the doc dumped the newborn into his arms and I wish I wasn’t under anaesthesia so I could see that! (I had all via c-sections). By then we were on our own and he took care of both of us and the other two girls too. (He had some help…one thing I’ll say is its harder on men to multi-task the way women do) Babies are hard work and they can wring you dry, but Love conquers all right? I’m not telling you this to scare you, it all sounds lovely in theory but you’re going to need lots of patience Craig. Maybe you can do some reading up on newborns. Forewarned is forearmed right? God bless your efforts Craig!

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Craig January 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I’ll be reading – excellent advice – and I hearted reading your whole story – and you bring up another really good point – I don’t want to step on her husband’s toes – that one I’ll have to be careful with – excellent, excellent point. Thank you for all you wrote – you didn’t step on any toes at all – so really – thank you – and God bless you Lisa Maria!

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Nacole@sixinthesticks January 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Lisa Maria,

your comment made me cry. “jump in with eyes closed and be amazed”…it was all beautiful…your story. thank you for sharing.

blessings,

Nacole

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A. January 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Craig, I am glad you have such good advisors!!!!

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Craig January 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I KNOW! I would never have thought of some of this stuff. I’m pretty fortunate (ツ) God bless you A!

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Liz Hoyt Eberle February 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm

What a thrill to read through all the excellent help for Craig… and Craig, what a love you are to be so determined to be there for your sister (and remember to occupy the 2 year old :-) ). What memories to this old granny./…. In 1960, I lived 4 hours from my mommy and she was too new at her job to take time off when my “time” came. My precious first born had problems at birth and my DADDY stayed with me for TWO weeks. He hung diapers on the line (visiting with the neighbors), cooked meals, changed diapers and when I got bronchitis, Daddy put me to bed and took my baby girl to the guest room–night feedings/changings/and all. You can do this Craig and I’ll pray you through… all the way. I mean… wow, what great God advisers you have surrounding you!!! Oh and thank you for letting me know you cared when I went through my dark nights. Love you like a soon!!! Miz Liz

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Craig February 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Liz, so sorry that I’m so late in responding to your comment – part of my plan – the part of it that you pointed out – remembering to occupy the two-year-old – well, the two-year-old had a whole bunch of cute germs – and I’m sick like a dog. Maybe I’ll develop a baby germ antibodies soon ツ I found in talking to my sister that the biggest thing for me to do is just to listen, and support, and I’ll be implementing all the other ideas too – but so much she has already planned for – what she hasn’t planned for his not having my mom. It would be so helpful – my mom being a mother of twins – it’s times like this that she really misses my mom – and I’m not her. God bless you Liz!

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