I have another baby due soon. I look at my three year old son Jack who is going to become a big brother and wonder how this is going to affect him. I also think about how this is going to affect my partner, me and our family as a whole.
I have found this pregnancy has gone faster than with Jack. I think this is because I have been looking after a busy little boy and already have most things I need for a baby so I haven't been hanging out in baby shops.
I decided to give up work as a Midwife earlier than I did before, being a bit older, having another child at home and being pregnant over a hot summer has made me tired.
I also wanted to start Jack in morning pre-school before the baby arrived and the hours for that did not suit work.
In preparing Jack for the arrival of the baby I was told to try putting myself in Jack's shoes: Imagine that you are madly in love with your partner, you do everything together, they help you out and do a lot of things for you.
One day your partner says "I've found another partner and I'm bringing them home to live with us. It is going to be great the three of us are all going to live together."
This new person arrives and they start wearing your clothes, using your stuff, sleeping in your room and they take up a lot of attention from your partner.
How would you feel towards your partner? (i.e. how your child may feel towards you)
How would you feel towards the new person? (i.e. how your child may feel towards the new baby)
There is an article re sibling rivalry on this link http://www.parentscentre.org.nz/parenting_family/sibling_rivalry.asp
Talk to friends about what they did. The best parenting advice you can often get is from people who have "been there, done, that". Like any advice use what works for you. Comments from two of my friends:
Jack and Charlie's Mum:
"Well before Charlie's arrival we made sure that we had moved Jack into his 'big boy bed'. We made a big song and dance about buying the bed and the cover. Jack also enjoyed getting out the toolbox to put the cot away ready for the new baby.
As Jack was sure that he was getting a new puppy and not in fact a brother we had a lot of groundwork to cover.
I made lots of books about Jack as a baby so that he learned what babies did (they were short books). We spent hours reading them before Charlie's arrival and once Charlie came he got out the books and showed me the pictures of Jack having a bath when I was bathing Charlie. The more that you include them the more important they feel I suppose. Other things I did was buy a gift Jack could give to the baby and one that the baby could give to him. Also gently suggest that friends buy something small for the eldest so they get a gift too, not just the baby.
When Jack came to the hospital to visit I made sure I wasn't holding the baby so he got lots of cuddles from me. Also if in hospital order the chocolate milk for breakfast and save it to give to your older chid... Jack was greatly impressed!"
Jade and Deren's Mum:
"Well I guess with me it was lot easier than some... Jade was too small to feel any jealousy however we did prep her up for a baby in the house. She knew what a baby was and we spent time playing with a plastic baby and looking after it. We also spent time with friends who had newborns. At her age we taught her how to be gentle, how to pat nicely and made her part of the routines, like bring nappy to mummy etc. She watched every move I made with Deren and knew what was going to happen next e.g. when Deren woke up and it was time for feeding she would bring mummy's breastfeeding pillow and give it to me. Praising is huge for toddlers and every time we did so she was gleaming!
Now, they are best of friends and look forward to the other waking up so they can play. We taught them how to play together and enjoy each others company, it's such a relief."
I have been talking to my Jack about the baby and slowing preparing him. I did not want him to have a lot of changes to cope with all at the same time. Also we have been trying to encourage his independence, as I know I will not be able to do as much for him when the baby arrives. He likes to dress himself and carry his own backpack now. He is also helping me with tiding up toys and passing me washing to put on the line. I have a few friends with babies so we talk about babies and what they can and can't do. Jack has a toy dog, which he calls his baby and puts it into the cot and tells me to be quiet because the baby is sleeping.
I remember a teacher telling me that when she was pregnant one of the children in her primary class told the rest of the children to be quiet because the baby was asleep in the teacher's tummy. It is interesting the comments children come out with re babies, I told Jack the other day that I could feel the baby kicking me, "he said that is a naughty baby for kicking you".
I made Jack up a little book with pictures of babies and their basic needs. This is what I included in it:
There is a baby in my Mummy's tummy.
One day soon it is going to come out.
When it comes out it is going to need...
Help to get dressed
Lots of drinks
Its nappies changed
Walks in the pram
To learn new things
We do not have any family where we live but we have some neighbours and friends who have said they would look after Jack while I am in labour. We have decided not to have him present. This is a personal decision and a lot of people do have their children present for the birth. There is a good video called "Sister for Hugo" which is a homebirth of a second child where the sibling is there. Hugo seems happy about being present though does make the comment at one stage "how much longer".
If you are going to have young children present it is a good idea to have someone who can look after them also so you don't have to take them to the toilet in the middle of a contraction.
"How can I love another child as much as the first?"... your heart expands.