In case that title caught you by surprise, no, we are not expecting. In fact, a couple weeks ago, one of my best friends had a baby, and I sent the picture of him to my husband, saying, Look how sweet! He texted back, No.
Right now I’m reading Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin, a resource book for new moms (though honestly I find parts of it a bit textbook-y, so I doubt I’d have read it as a new mom. Likely better read before baby or a few months after).
I’ve been sharing some of it with friends of mine who recently had second babies, which got me thinking that what I’m sharing with them is likely worth sharing with others as well. Maybe you already have had your second or third child, and you will nod your head along with the ideas from this book. Or maybe you’re planning on having more children or are even expecting now, and some of this might seem like good information to store in your back pocket for when your next baby is born.
Here are the two passages I shared with my moms of 2nd babes (starting with ‘They have learned….’):
The chapter went on to give ideas on how to make the transition easier on the first born:
- Talking with your older child and including him/her in the process to which they are comfortable (ie. bringing diapers)
- Showing your older child photos and videos from their own birth and infanthood (and after the baby arrives, saying things like, “You also loved being held this way” or “You always fell asleep like this” or “You were different from your sister, you liked XYZ”)
- Schedule some time for one or each parent to have alone time with the older child
- Try not to make promises you won’t be able to keep
- Accept the child’s resentment (remind yourself it was a parent’s decision, not the child’s, to have a second) but be clear it’s not ok for the older child to hurt the younger one
- Be prepared for the older child to act out a range of feelings toward the new sibling once s/he arrives (just like Mom might have mixed or some negative feelings, so might the older child, and that’s normal and ok!)
- If your oldest is interested, spend time with friends who have a newborn
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your children to have a perfect relationship when they’re young because it can lead to resentment carried into adulthood (something my husband and I have seen first-hand in our families)
I think what matters most is recognizing the whole spectrum of emotions for the mom and the older child. A friend was here for coffee earlier today, and she commented that she shouldn’t complain, that she chose her life of having two young children close together. Sure, she did choose her life, but how she feels is how she feels, and there is nothing wrong with embracing those emotions. In fact, she *should* embrace them. Sometimes motherhood is beautiful, heartwarming, and rewarding; other times it’s hell, overwhelming, and you just want to cry or pull your hair out. Honour those feelings in yourself and in your child. They are valid.
I would love to hear if you have any other ideas on how to ease the transition for your older child(ren) when a baby comes along! Comment below or post on Facebook.