So let me introduce you to my first kid. We will call him E. He’s two-years-old or 28 months if you’re into that. E is pretty much the greatest kid. He is super sensitive and such a people lover. Somehow two very introverted people spawned one of the most social kids I’ve ever met, but in turn he is super aware of others’ feelings. He pushes me to love people more and worry less about what others think of me.
So we had another baby recently if you didn’t notice. We added our daughter, S, in November. I’m going to tell you the story of adding a second child from the point of view of an only child. Because that’s me, an only child.
When I found out I was pregnant in March, my first and only thoughts were about my son. How would he adjust? Won’t I miss our one-on-one time? Is he going to hate us for doing this? Is he going to hate his new sibling? As my due date approached, I became more anxious.
Think about this: I am an only child. I have no idea what he is going to feel being a brother. I have no idea what the adjustment looks or feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to share my toys or my room or my parents. My husband is the oldest of five, so he has done this a time or two. We could not understand each other; he did not understand why I was so anxious. I did not understand why he was so cool with this all.
My husband and I spent the entire pregnancy talking to E about the impending doom or whatever you want to call it. We talked about his baby sister. He probably hated it all because we just talked, talked, talked, and there was no baby. I read him books about the transition to big brother. I let him kiss my tummy and go to doctor appointments with me. The hardest part for me was spending the last few days with him. I don’t take change well, so in my mind I make a huge deal out of the final time something happens. So our final day just the two of us was super emotional for me. We did his favorite things, went to the zoo and rode the train, and I was fighting back the tears the entire time. But that day we had together will always be one of my favorites even though I had heartburn from Hades and swollen everything.
I’m a planner, so I planned out their first meeting. I made E a big brother care package that S would “give” to him when he came to meet her in the hospital. It was a backpack with various fun things to take to Nana’s house. I made it a point not to be holding her when E. came into my hospital room for the first time. I wanted him to see me first and not feel the jealousy from the beginning. S was in her hospital bed, so our attention was on E. when he walked in. This was a small thing we did, but I think it made such a difference. We were lucky. E loved her from the beginning.
Our hospital room was small, but he came to visit both days I was in the hospital. We were very in tune with his mood, and when he started to get bored and crazy my parents took him on a short walk. Then he came back in to spend more time bonding with the three of us. Yes, E is only two, but we talk to him like he is much older. We explain EVERYTHING to him. Does he get it all? Probably not, but what he does comprehend he remembers. Moms, if I could give you any advice it’s that you should talk to your kids from the beginning of their lives. Be honest with them and describe, describe, describe. I’m surprised daily about E’s level of comprehension and memory.
We just passed the one month mark. S has been in our family for an entire month. Whaaaa?
And the transition from one to two has been much harder on me than it has been on E The number one question people ask is how E is handling the change. The answer is that he loves his sister. He is gentle and loving. E loves to kiss her head. He has been patient with me, but that’s not to say he isn’t pushing all the boundaries. I’m not sure if it is just his age or his way of adjusting. But he really thinks he can get away with more than before S was born. It is tough, but we don’t allow his silly business. We have stayed on his sleep schedule, and by the grace of God, we still get a normal nap and the same bedtime.
My son loves to help in any way he can. If I make a big deal that I need his help, he’s there in a flash with his sweet little voice asking “what, Mama?” When we are changing her diaper, E is there to throw the dirty diaper away. One of the first things I taught E was how to gently put her pacifier back into S’s mouth. Hearing him tell me that “S lost her pacifier” is the cutest thing. E thrives when he has a purpose, so I use that to my advantage.
If I you’re still reading this, I can sum it up this way:
- Explain what to expect to your child.
- Keep the important parts of your child’s routine (i.e. sleep).
- Be patient with your child.
- Do not let your child get away with things he/she wouldn’t have gotten away with before.
- Ask for forgiveness when you just can’t get it together.
- Tend to your older child first when possible because he/she will have memory of this time.
- Encourage your child to help in any way he/she can.
Adding another child isn’t the nightmare I spent many months imagining. My first child is still the same happy and loving boy he was before. I don’t anticipate any long-term damages from bringing home his sister. I can, however, imagine the incredible relationship they are going to have for a lifetime, and for that I am grateful. But I’m not looking forward to the bickering and the boy and girl joint bathroom situation.
- Christmas parties