Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

How the Older Boys are Handling their New Baby March 18, 2016

Bringing home a new baby is always interesting. The boys’ reactions are pretty varied.


We’ll start with him because it’s hardest on the current youngest. Porter already hasn’t been feeling his best (a little cough and congestion), but couple that with a baby, and poor thing. He wanted to touch the baby a lot right at first. He giggled when he felt Harlan’s head in the hospital. But he quickly expressed his desire to rip the blanket off and check out the intruder. I tried to get away with letting Patrick hold Harlan while I held Porter, having learned a little from the Seamus/Gilbert introduction. He sobbed as he left the hospital.

However, while he’s been clingy and fussy, he’s doing a little better, and we keep reminding ourselves that he’s really having the worst days of his life right now. In a week or so, he should be much better. He wants to rock the car seat, or bouncy seat. He wants to climb on me, ALL the time. He needs a lot of love and reassurance. I’ve been getting up with him when he wakes at 6:15, and we continue our tradition of going to the couch to snuggle and lay down for a few minutes until Seamus gets up at 6:45 (usually). These guys are my early risers. He likes that, and he likes going outside to play. He’s been transitioning to a balance bike, and he loves it.


Seamus’s first question/comment was, “You’re not having any more babies are you?” Well, no. But we talked about the deeper issue. I explained that each baby makes you love your other children more. He was suspicious, but curious. I said, “I don’t know, I guess your heart gets bigger.” And I think that was somewhat plausible for him.

Seamus’s school musical was Wednesday night. Back when they first planned for it, I saw the date with a sinking heart. I thought, if he gets a speaking part, the baby will come on that day and I’ll miss Seamus’s play. He came home and told us he didn’t have a part. Whew. But I still didn’t want to miss it. I helped make the costumes! With all my free time. Well, things got weirder. He told us he croaks with the other tadpoles. Then he said he was one of the ones whose tadpole tail had to rip off. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Finally, Gilbert told us that Seamus had to step up the microphone, but was afraid to speak and they had to make him. Now we were really confused. I asked him again. No speaking role.

He was very nervous that we were going to be late. He was nervous I wasn’t going to be able to go or stay through the whole thing because of Harlan (or Porter). We got our programs and listed as Tommy Tadpole was Seamus. It turned out he was a tadpole dancer who turned into a frog. (Hence the ripping off of his tail). Then he had to stand in the middle of the stage for a whole song about finding your voice Tommy, do all the movements, and at the end of the song say “Croak” into the microphone! It was SO Seamus to not tell us that he had a part. What a surprise. I’m so glad we all made it for his big moment.

And that’s how he’s coping. By trying not to ask us for too much, so that he’s not disappointed when we can’t give it.


Gilbert seems to be doing well. But he’s definitely getting the short end right now. Between Porter’s neediness, and Seamus’s musical, Gilbert’s not getting much attention. Well, his friends are giving him some, and he tells everyone he sees about his new baby, so he’s milking it.

Gilbert’s obsessed with my stomach and whether it’s returning to regular size. He’s advocating for another baby brother or sister–he prefers sister.

He came home Wednesday and asked if he had to go to Seamus’s play. Couldn’t he just stay home with me and Harlan? (I told him absolutely not.) Looking back, he was hoping to deny Seamus his moment in the sun and to get a little mama-time for himself.

He’s being really helpful with Porter–patient and friendly. He remembers how Porter feels.

And now there are six people in this family! Patrick said it really struck him when he picked Harlan and me up from the hospital and the van was nearly full.

Our first photo as a family of six.

Our first photo as a family of six.


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