Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making Room for the New Kid

A few days ago, one of my readers asked if I would "post some advice on what it was like having a second baby. Sibling issues, bedtime madness, and when you actually sleep."  I have to admit that I am pretty flattered that someone would ask me when we all clearly know what a nut case I am!  So, after thinking about it for a few days, I decided to give my piece and then open it up for you more experienced moms.  So please leave a comment if you have some pointers and advice to share for our new mom's of plus ones.

I got pregnant with my second, Nephi, when Sammy was just a year old.  We wanted to have the first two close together because my husband and I both grew up with a close sibling and loved it!  Ben and I wanted that for our kids too.

From the very first when we found out we were expecting numero dos, we started prepping Sam for it.  Even though he was only one and had speech and language impairment (although we didn't know this at the time because he was only one) we made sure to talk to him everyday about the baby in mommy's tummy. We included him in all the pictures, let him feel the baby kick all the time and told him that was going to be his new friend forever!  We took him to doctor's appointments and made a huge deal about the ultra sound, and that was very exciting for Sam, too.  I even let him pick out some of the clothes.
Like most parents, we had the same fears as others do with number two.  We were worried that Sam would feel less loved, or replaced, or even be jealous of the newbie in town.  We also had fears that Sam might try to hurt him or pick him up and drop him... you know, stuff like that.  I know many moms who put off having another one for years or not at all for those exact reasons.  But we put aside our fears and just trusted that things would work out great.  We knew that we weren't "replacing Sam" or loving him any less because we wanted more children, and I believe that Sammy knew that in some way.  We were giving him a life long buddy!

My mother-in-law took Sammy for a couple days while we were in the hospital, and I will never forget what happened the day they brought him in to met his baby brother for the first time.  All I can say is that it was love at first sight!  He was so thrilled to come in and see a little baby in the hospital-made crib thing, that he was literally shaking with excitement!  He even tried to get in with the baby so he could love him!

You can see me holding him back in these pictures....
Then Sammy cried when my mother-in-law took him home.  He wanted so badly to stay with the baby, not necessary us, but his new baby brother.  If anyone was replaced by Nephi's arrival it was the parents!

We were a little nervous taking Nephi home.  We thought that even though Sam seemed to love him at the hospital, we wondered if he would feel the same way when the baby came into the home.  

We need not have worried, because to say Sam was thrilled was an understatement...

He just couldn't help himself!  Sam wanted to love little Nephi so bad!!  He even stayed by his side when we had to put him under the light for jaundice.

He wanted to help with everything too:
And when the baby was out, he wouldn't let him out of his sight.  Such a big brother, protecting his baby!
My best advice I can give, is just to teach your little one from the beginning about the new baby.  Don't keep it from them to "spare feelings" because you never know how they will react and they may even surprise you! We bought Sam a little doll so he could have a baby too, but he didn't care for it... he wanted the real thing!  

Include your older child in everything you can.  Feedings, diaper changes, bath time, and let them help.  I don't know how much of my words Sammy understood, but my actions he did.  He knew that I needed his big boy help to care for baby brother, and he took this role VERY seriously!

Oh, and about sleep?  What's that?  Just kidding!  We didn't have problems with bed time.  Sam had always been on a schedule and Nephi started sleeping through the night at 2 or 3 weeks.  I was tired a lot, but I had to get over it the best I could.  I had two little guys that depended on me, and I had to be strong for them.  However, Sam was still little enough to have nap times too, so I got their schedule down in the afternoon in sync and then I took a nap too.  Sleep when the babies sleep!

Sammy couldn't wait for Nephi to play with him, and now as much as they fight, they are still best friends!  Nephi and Sam hug almost everyday when Sam gets off the school bus.  I NEVER EVER regret having them so close together.  Even if everyone thinks they are twins...

And now with number three on the way, we will just make room for one more!  The boys are THRILLED and talk about the baby in mommy's tummy at least 20 times a day.  In fact, the other day, Nephi asked me how the baby got in my tummy.  Sam piped up before I could say anything and said, "Baby go in mommy's mouth, slides down and goes into mommy's tummy!"  Hmmmm... I don't know how I feel about being thought of as a baby eater... but whatever works! 


Now it's your turn! What is your best advice on preparing for baby number two... or three even?


Carrie and Karl said...

We have a few things besides the things you mentioned that have helped with our boys, specifically as far as gifts go.
When people bring over gifts for the new baby we let his older siblings open the presents and then give them to the baby. They have fun opening them and it helps them feel involved.
Whenever my mother-in-law gives gifts to any of our boys, she gives something to the others as well, even if it's a lot smaller. This way they know they are still loved. At birthday parties it helps a lot.
The third thing is that whoever is watching the older siblings helps them make a present for the new baby (like a picture) and then gives it to him when they go to meet him.

The other thing

Sara Richins said...

We've had ours all real close too. And I love it! Yes, I'm insane to have 4 kids 5 and under. Yes, I'm crazy to want three more just as close. But when the parents have so much love to go around, the kids seem to as well.
Just like you, we talk about the baby in mommy's tummy from the very beginning. We take them too all appointments. We let them feel the baby when it moves. We talk about babies none stop.
Because we have them so close (19 months apart or closer), we still have a little one in a crib. When they are about 15-18 months we move them into a toddler bed. Then, a few weeks (hopefully a month) before the baby is born, they graduate to a big bed that's on the floor (no box spring). That way, they don't see the baby as taking their bed. It's more, you're a big boy or girl now and can sleep in a big bed. Yes, we know it's early for that, but when you live in tiny apartments, you can't fit two cribs in a room.
As for sleep, when I had Zoe (my second child) Jake was still taking naps. But that quickly changed. He didn't take a nap soon after he turned 2. So what would have been nap time, changed to quiet time in his room, while Zoe took a nap, so I could take a nap. All my kids seem to sleep through the night at an early age, but that still means I'm dead tired. With Leo (#3) Zoe was still taking naps. So Zoe and Leo napped at the same time, and Jake got to sit quietly on the couch watching a movie or cartoon while mommy dozed on the couch. And as number 4 came, Teage, Jake and Zoe no longer were taking naps. So it got harder for me to take a nap when I needed to. But when I did, everyone was on quiet time in their rooms. Nine times out of ten, they all would fall asleep too!
Once you have three, it's a breeze. You have older kids that want to help. And we let them. Let the child or children be involved with the baby. Let them hold the baby (with help), let them give the baby hugs and kisses.
With all my kids, they always want to cuddle when I'm feeding the baby. It's a little annoying at first, but once you get the hang of nursing the baby, and having one or two or three kids sitting next to you (we don't have a nice rocking chair, so the couch is where feedings take place) you get the hang of it. And once the baby is old enough to eat baby food, let the kids help. We let Jake and Zoe help feed baby food to Teage, and they loved it! Now that Teage is eating real food, sharing is happening all the time. It's really cute!
Adding another child seems like a scary thing to do. We've all heard the horror stories of the older child hurting the baby. I believe if you involve the child from the very beginning, and making sure that the child is loved and have one on one time with you before and after the baby comes, everything will be ok. It's hard to find that balance, but it's not impossible.

Our Family said...

This is all great advice. Catherine, I LOVE all of the photos of your kids. They are such sweet brothers!

Amanda said...

Thanks so much Cat! I didn't think you'd do a post just for me, but you did! I feel special!
The pictures of Sam with Nephi made me teary. That is the one thing I'm worried about, how will he react to having to share Mommy. Him and Daddy already wrestle over who gets to kiss mommy goodnight first...it's pretty nice being fought over...even if it's only with foam swords.
I'm definitely going to get him involved, I didn't think a two year old could help with a baby, but seeing Sammy in those pictures really inspired me. This whole time we've been telling him that mommy has a new friend for him in her tummy- now I can say it with more confidence.
Your awesome! Thanks!

Becky in Wyo said...

Cat, don't worry. You gave absolutely wonderful advice! It's definitely all about involving the older children in the life of the new little one. I have five kids now, and it's amazing how much the older children, regardless of age, come to love the new baby, and want to be involved in the process of caring and loving the new baby, just like Mommy and Daddy. Love, when done right, isn't exculsive, it's inclusive and just expands to fill the universe.