Grace has wanted a brother or sister for as long as I can remember. I never wanted her to be an only child but, given the circumstances with her father it was never going to happen within that relationship!
I had almost resigned myself to the fact I’d just have one child, when Ross came into our lives. He proved himself a decent father straight away by the mere fact that he didn’t want to get to know Grace until he knew he and I were in an established relationship.
As the years have gone by, Ross and Grace have become closer and have the most amazing relationship. So much so that sometimes I feel left out!!
Ross and I have always been upfront with Grace. She has been asking for a sibling for the last 4 years. At first we told her that we were trying and would let her know as soon as mum had a baby in her tummy. As she has become more grown up, it has gotten easier to explain things to her. When it came to the IVF, we started to explain things in full after we returned from Cyprus and our first round of unsuccessful treatment.
Prior to receiving sex education at school, Grace and I went through the facts of life together. This also meant that I was able to fully help her to understand the egg donation that we went through and explain how Rex was conceived. It really helped.
During my pregnancy
Grace was absolutely fantastic during my pregnancy. She would not let me carry anything, she massaged my swollen feet and was generally very caring. There was a keen interest in every single scan and even now Grace has the photos of the scans on her walls with heart stickers on them. She would take them to school to show her friends and would continually update her class.
At first, she wanted a little sister but then realised that if she remained the only girl, our girly outings would stay as just us and a boy would have to stay with dad. When we did the gender reveal with her, I didn’t expect the emotional reaction she gave when we told her that she would be getting a brother. I was so pleased we caught the moment on camera and, unexpectedly, it is what we used for our gender reveal video. One day Rex will see this – and I have no doubt he will love it.
Calling Ross ‘dad’
Very early on in our relationship, Grace had asked if she could call Ross ‘dad’. He wasn’t ready at that point so she respected that and, since then, has called him Ross. With our pregnancy came the discussion once again about calling Ross dad. Because it would be easier all round and mainly because Ross was ready, dad is now what he is known as. Occasionally I forget and call him Ross to her – and she always corrects me. We think it is because she wants to ensure that he was her dad first and foremost before Rex came on the scene. It all feels really natural now.
At first, Grace was very scared that I might need a C-section but when we watched ‘One Born Every Minute’ together she had a much better grasp of what would happen. She was always insistent that she be present at Rex’s birth. When my waters were broken at almost midnight, Ross had to wake Grace and bring her with him. She stayed with me almost until the end and was excellent at stroking my back, being helpful and very supportive.
Of course, it meant that she had no sleep that night so, for the first time ever, she had two days off school. It is not every day that your little brother is born!
From the moment she met her brother, Grace has been totally and utterly in love with him. Seeing the look in her eyes when she first met him, it was obvious to me how much she was going to be there for him – and I am not wrong.
She sings to him, dances with him and changes his nappy. It has been fantastic that we have had the summer holidays for them to really secure their bond. Grace was the one that Rex really gave his first proper smile and goo sound to. He loves her and she loves him back. She is very protective of him and I can certainly see that this big sister will leap to his defence. I couldn’t be happier about this relationship and can already see how much Rex will dote on his big sister.
Dealing with sharing
There are times when Grace feels a little left out. Ross and I have been very careful to ensure that we manage that properly. Ross has spent a lot of time ‘slime ranching’ with her (a computer game!) and I have made sure that we had a couple of girly outings – one with and one without Rex. If she is upset, we listen to her feelings. We make sure that we involve her as much as we possibly can. Kindly, many of our friends and family have sent her gifts when they have sent things for Rex. She hasn’t been forgotten.
Despite all the attention being on me towards the end of my pregnancy and then again on Rex when he came along, this hasn’t stopped Grace trying hard. She has earned a number of certificates from her swimming lessons. Grace also received the award for music at the end of last term at school. The moment she has been most happy with was earning a distinction for her Grade 1 piano exam. She answered the phone when her piano teacher rang to tell us. There were tears of happiness as she got the news. She told me and Ross and then rang both sets of grandparents. This spurred her on and she has practised hard over the summer, even trying to learn ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol.
Dare I say that I think that becoming a big sister will be the making of Grace. She was already grown up for her age but this extra responsibility is showing me a firm and caring side. Having Rex has shown her how much hard work babies are. However, I have no doubt that one day she will make a wonderful mother. I have already told her so.