When my mother was pregnant for the first time, her son was born seven weeks early at a mere 2 pounds, 14 ounces. He had to be kept in an incubator until his lungs were developed, so my parents called twice a day (my dad in the morning, my mom at night), every day – until the hospital asked them to consolidate it into one call.
All that worrying was for naught. In the end, Derek was a healthy baby who grew into a healthy adult. As my mom puts it, “We put him in the coldest room [a room that remains ten degrees colder than the rest of the house]and he survived!”
Thirteen years after her first child was born, my mom was pregnant again. When she approached her first and only son about it, she was met with a teenager’s silence. In time, he warmed up to the idea, expressing interest in having a baby brother and giving my mom a CD: Jane Fonda’s Workout Record for Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery.
Nine months later, in the middle of the night, my mom’s water broke. She shook my dad awake. Not wanting the baby to be born in a car parked in morning traffic, she instinctively told him, “We’ve got to get across the George Washington Bridge before rush hour.”
A few hours later, at 10 o’clock in the morning, I was born: a healthy baby girl at 6 pounds, 12 ounces.
Regardless of what he initially hoped for, Derek’s apprehension dissipated once I was born. He immediately took to his role as big brother. On my first day home, my mom asked if her son could be let out of school early. That day, Derek greeted me with a “Welcome Home, Kara!” banner he crafted. Clearly, I was a welcome bundle of joy.
Despite being far apart in age and having seemingly separate childhoods, we have never fought, he never stops short to please me, and we still share good laughs (a laugh I’ve been told is the same laugh).
Throughout high school, he would rush home to play with his little sister. From the age of 2, I was the star of all his home videos. There are tapes upon tapes of my childhood (94 tapes to be exact), including an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark “If You Leave” music video, where I am banging on the drums while two cousins are singing and playing air guitar. When he moved away to Michigan for college, I eagerly awaited his return over the holidays, so we could play my all-time favorite game of Hide-n-Seek. There are tapes of that, too.
Then, in the summer months, I would chase Derek down the driveway, running as fast as I could to board the bus that took him to Blue Rill Day Camp. When I was old enough to attend summer camp at age 4, I discovered
that his reputation preceded me. Everyone I met knew him and hence, referred to me as Derek’s Little Sister. It seemed like a rite of passage and I enjoyed a mini-celebrity status all summer. But the biggest bonus was, and is, being the little sister to a thoughtful, generous, good-natured brother.
This month, in the spirit of big siblings, read about how to prepare your first child for their new sibling. Whether you’re welcoming your first, second, or third child (or beyond), we’ve also compiled helpful tips on pregancy, including a selection of Beijing’s top hospitals for giving birth, a handy countdown until the big day and how to hire a helping hand.
Next year, my big brother Derek will add Olivia’s Proud Father to his many roles. Arriving from South Korea, Olivia will be the newest addition to our family and (need it be said?) the most spoiled niece in town. If being an amazing big brother to me is any indication of being a good parent, I know, without question, he will be the most amazing father. As for me, I’ll be counting the days until Olivia and I can play a game of Hide-and-Seek.
This article is excerpted from beijingkids October 2011 issue. View it in PDF form here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where you can pick up your free copy.