Appropriately Pissed (or, 5 things that are more interesting than a baby sister)

When my sister was born, the pediatrician came to examine her in the hospital. He held her up with one hand, naked and red, as she bellowed in protest.

“Well,” he told my mom. “She’s appropriately pissed.”

Meaning, of course, that her reaction was to be expected. It wasn’t pretty, it hurt to watch, but it was short-lived and, ultimately, developmentally appropriate. Had she not screamed at the top of her tiny lungs, something would have been off.

That’s kind of where we are with Boy Powers. He is, to borrow the words of a pediatrician 20-some years ago, appropriately pissed off about the arrival of his little sister.

He’s not too interested in the baby at all, which is to be expected. But his fuse is short, his demands are many and firm, and in his round eyes you can see a painful search for the familiar.


It’s not pretty, it hurts to watch, but it will be short-lived (I hope) and, ultimately, it’s developmentally appropriate. If he didn’t react this way, something would be off.

Plus, when you’re in the world of two, some things are just way more interesting than a new baby sister…

…like Star Wars Angry Birds


…and graham crackers


…and things that make the end of mom’s finger light up


…and play-doh with dad

…and drawers

IMG_8663I’d love to hear from you in the comments. How did your toddlers adjust to new siblings? Were they too “appropriately pissed”? Do you think some ages make it easier than others?



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9 Responses to Appropriately Pissed (or, 5 things that are more interesting than a baby sister)

  1. Devon January 31, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    First, congratulations! Beautiful family, Sarah – I’m so happy for you!

    And, YES, appropriately pissed is, well, the most appropriate way to describe my older children after the birth of my daughter. One boy, in particular, was more pissed than the other; I’d get glares, hug refusals, the whole bit.

    But it was short-lived, and now when I try to think back on that period it seems like such a small amount of time spent in that funk. Now, all three of my kids are actually forming a little sibling gang, of sorts. Time irons out the age differences, and birth order figures out the pecking order all on its own.

    • Sarah January 31, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Thanks Devon. You know, I totally agree. My big kids get along really well,
      despite age and gender differences, and I know this threesome will be a fun thing to watch happen. Always good to hear from others who have survived the transition, though. Thank you! xo

  2. Laura January 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Paul claims he has an imprint of a 3 year old’s palm in his forehead.

  3. Kristen @ Motherese January 31, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    A few weeks after we brought my 3yo home from the hospital, my 5yo (then almost 2) asked me if I would just “put the baby in the background.” The two of them still fight like cats and dogs, but they also become better and better friends every day. Meanwhile, when we brought my daughter home, my 5yo (then almost 3 1/2) was smitten from the get-go. I think age had everything to do with it.

    I just love seeing these pictures of your beautiful family! xo

  4. erica @ expatria, baby February 1, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    I know nothing of adjustment and toddlers and a second baby. Because I’m terrified of those words together in a sentence. I can tell you, however, that when my sister was brought home, my first reaction was to peer into her carseat, and my second reaction was to swat at her. We are now well-adjusted humans, ps. So. Worry not!
    Curious, when you brought boy powers home, did girl powers also have an appropriately pissed reaction?

    • Sarah February 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Erica, that’s an interesting question. Yes and no… Girl Powers was much more interested in her baby brother, being at the height of the baby doll pretend play stage, so it seemed like she was less pissed off about it. But it came out in other ways – like a full scale sleep regression and nap battles, etc. And her personality is less social and more serious, so it may not have been as noticeable – whereas he is super social and totally a people person, so it’s a slap in the face to everybody when he’s sour and antagonistic instead of sweet. Neither one had outright anger AT the new baby … but you can still see it coming out in other ways… if that makes sense?

      • erica @ expatria, baby February 3, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

        Oh, so you mean not all children act the exact same way given the same circumstances??!! And reactions to major events (and minor) are largely a product of their own particular personality?? (Why am I continually dumbfounded by this revelation? I don’t know. But I am.) Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful response; if you haven’t guessed, I’m kind of trying to gather up the courage for Maybe Baby Number Two (and PS Stella is a huge lover of all things baby, so)….you know, eating up all the details from people who’ve been there before!! Glad to hear that Boy Powers is appropriately pissed, and to his credit, sitting in a drawer basically pretty much the best thing ever.

  5. tricia March 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    congrats on your sweet baby girl! i’m a new reader, and i’m pregnant with #3. my two boys, henry and ezra, are six and two. ezra will be 2.5 once baby arrives in august, but this will be a whole new experience for me. my first was 3.5-4 when i was pregnant and when ezra was born, so these two will be much closer together! we waited between the first two because i wanted to have time with just henry, i wanted to learn to become a mama and give him the time i felt he needed to be with just us, the papa and i. but we want a lot of kids, a number that keeps growing the more we have! so we decided to have the next one sooner rather than later. i’m also still breastfeeding my two-year old, so that’s been another big difference with pregnancy #3. my firstborn had ZERO jealousy issues and was so interested in his baby brother. he loved helping me get a diaper, and helping stuff them. henry was just excited to have a sibling, and at four he felt like such a hero to his mama when he got the opportunity to help. i think it was a lot easier because he was older. i think it was easier because of his age, and because he had so much time with us so there was never any worry that he’d be left out or invisible. he had confidence in that, and i think at two, they can’t conceptualize that. i think that’s what makes it harder when they’re so little and become a “big” brother of sister.

    i can say this: remember that middle baby. take time to be with just him, even if it’s only for a trip to the grocery store or to pick up paper towels. even those small gestures will make him feel like he’s still your baby. and he really still is a baby! two is still so small in the grand scheme of things. i think time will be his greatest ally. i’m very concerned about how ezra will respond to the baby. he loves babies, but if i have a baby on my lap, he’s on my lap. i currently watch a baby for a friend and if i’m giving the baby a bottle, he’s on my lap asking to nurse. i’m so, so thankful that ezra didn’t wean because i feel like tandem nursing and sharing that will help his transition. or it could make it harder! in the end, i truly believe that if you create a home that emphasizes the importance of family and unity, siblings will respond in turn. we spend all of our time together on the weekends, we aren’t they type that always has to do stuff with other families on the weekends. we do things as a family: bowling, the park, the beach, movies, shopping, bike riding. yes, my kids have their moments with one another. yes, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. but i firmly believe that if you make family unity and familial love and relationships the most important thing, you’ll have kids that love and value each other. my motto has always been, “age difference makes no difference,” as long as your life is your family.

    • Sarah March 25, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Hi Tricia! I recognize your name and sweet boys from Instagram, where we’re connected. :) Small internet world. Congrats on #3, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! Looking forward to following along your next adventure as well! xo

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