Becoming Big

Becoming-Big-1024x1024Less than a month!  That’s how long we have before our family is changed forever.  And while it’s exciting, and washing tiny clothes again is so sweet, and the kicking in my belly is getting more intense and wonderful, we can’t help but wonder just what is going on in the mind of our sweet little 3 1/2-year-old.  She can only verbalize so much of her true feelings, but the rest is left inside that pretty little head – taking her cues from mom and dad, and really having NO idea what’s about to happen to her world.

You see, my husband and I are both the babies of our families.  We were the world changers.  Trying-out-the-CarseatWe were the pesky younger siblings.  We were the class clowns.  We were the babies and we have no idea what it’s like for another child to invade our otherwise pristine universe.

So now that we’re inviting child number two into our home, we’re doing our best to help prepare our Sweet Pickle for her new role as big sister.  Even though nothing can truly prepare any of us for what’s about to happen.

Putting it on Repeat

We talk about it all the time.  We talk about how our Pickle is going to be a big sister.  We talk about baby brother.  We talk about mommy having a baby in her tummy.  We say his name.  We invite him into conversations.  We pray for him and talk to him and wonder what he’s going to be like.  And Sweet P chimes right in!  She loves to run up to my belly and, in her best cooing baby-talk, say, “Bee Beee!  I yove you wittle Bee Beeeee!”  And we tell her all the time that she’s going to be a big sister… and such a great big sister at that.  She knows it’s coming (and has known since we got a positive pregnancy test) and we’re not going to let her forget it.

Painting-the-ToyboxFostering Independence

Let’s face it.  When I’m literally up to my boobs in breast pumps and recovery and a squealing infant, I’m just not gonna be able to get up and help this girl do everything.  So we’re letting her try her hand at a LOT of independent endeavors.  Including, but not limited to, pouring her own milk (yes… she loves it), brushing her own teeth, putting on her own clothes, making her own toast, cleaning up her own messes, filling her own water glass.  She even figured out how to pull her chair over to the refrigerator and get down her own box of cereal!  She loves doing things on her own.  I survive the occasional mess.  And if I could just teach her how to (adequately) wipe herself on the potty, we’d be in business.

Two Words: Daniel. Tiger.

It’s true.  They wrote the new episodes of this show JUST for me (and my preggo contemporaries).  Daniel Tiger just got a baby sister and, as far as I know, the writers did a pretty good job of addressing some of a child’s feelings, excitement, and apprehension that comes with such a major life change.  And, since it’s PBS, they do it in a really positive way.  The Pickle loves to watch these shows and sing the songs about making time for baby, and being a “big helper!”  They’ve helped us address things that my husband and I may not have thought of, and created opportunities to go deeper with her in other conversations (you can watch the new baby episodes with your kids at PBSKids.org OR you can read a hilarious take on it from one of our sister sites… maybe do both).

Letting Her HelpShower-Gifts

This is really where the rubber hits the road.  I’ve let her help with as much as I possibly can in preparing our world for the new baby.  She helped me put up the crib, paint the toybox, fill the bookshelf.  She donated some of her animals and toys to his room.  She painted pictures to put on his wall.  She helped me sort through clothes and open shower gifts.  And of course she has “tried out” everything from the stroller to the carseat to the new bathtub.

Unconditionally (and excessively) Loving Her

But let’s face it… she’s my girl.  My firstborn.  The one who made me a Mommy.  I am completely and utterly and hopelessly in love with her.  I just know that when I see her in that hospital room the moment that she becomes a “big sister” I am going to break down in happy tears (I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it).  She is going to be so beautiful and so proud and so… exactly who God made her to be that it’s overwhelming to me.  But for right now, she’s my one and only and I want her to know it.  Since the day I found out I was pregnant I started napping with her… because these sweet 3 1/2-year-old cuddles aren’t going to last forever.  I take every opportunity that I can to hug her and squeeze her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her and love who she is.  I haven’t journaled once for this boy, but I’ve started journaling her threeisms!  Because I don’t ever want to forget who she was during this beautiful time of transition.

Me-and-My-GirlAnd every day when she asks why we’re having a baby I simply reply, “Because, Sweet Girl, God decided that you were ready to be a big sister!”

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And if that’s not enough… we’ve got bags of gifts for them to exchange at the hospital.  We’re signed up for the Lisa Ross “Awesome Sibling” class.  She’s getting a special piece of “Big Sister” jewelry.  What are we missing?  What did you do to help your child(ren) transition with a new baby?  Any tips for us newbies?

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3 Responses to Becoming Big

  1. Emily S September 25, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    My advice might be a little different than a lot of books and other articles you have read…..I say incorporate the new baby into your family but DO NOT make a big deal about it. Don’t constantly ask them to help or include their sibling in what they are doing. Let the assimilation happen slowly and naturally. My kids are less than 2 years apart so that might also make a difference but even when they are 3 or 4 or 5 years old they are still very self-centered people (for lack of a better word) and I think allowing them to keep that a bit is good. I also tried not to encourage too much “helping” because I had heard horror stories from my FIL who is a pediatrician of older siblings trying to help with the baby (picking them up, moving them) when a mom’s back was turned and permanently disabling their younger sibling.

    The first 6 months with two was hard for the obvious reasons (juggling 2 needy people) but we had NO problems with my son adapting and now at ages 3 and 4 1/2 they are inseparable – trying to make them immediately bond and love with this new screaming human might be asking too much. They don’t have a concept that they will grow up and be fun and play with them one day, so let their world continue on until it really changes (when little sibling starts crawling and getting in their stuff). I have had friends worry because their older child just doesn’t LOVE their new sibling – don’t worry about it. They will be the best of friends when the little one gets older – for now just let it be.

    My other BIG advice – always go to the toddler first. A baby cries because they need a diaper change or to be fed. If they cry for 1 minute or 5 minutes, doing what they originally cried for will stop the crying. A toddler fusses because they want juice…then you tell them to wait because you have to get the baby and the crying into something emotional with anger and frustration so the sippy cup of juice will not longer fix that.

    Jenny – the BIGGEST joy I have as a mother is watching my children together. When I pick my son up from preschool he ignores me and runs straight to his sister hugging her neck, saying he loves and missed her and asking what she did during the 3 hours they were apart. It melts my heart every time. We are now pregnant with a 3rd and I cannot wait to watch this little one, when they get older, join the pack.

  2. Mary @ parenthood September 25, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    Hmm stuff we did that you didn’t mention.

    We did a lot of preparation for expectations after c-section – no climbing on mommy, lifting restrictions and I spent week one confined to our third floor (my house has too many stairs!)

    We had a practice sleepover with my sister (who was going to be looking after my kiddo), so everyone knew what to expect.

    We threw a birthday party in the hospital. It was lovely (I linked to Matthew’s birth story which has our party decor in the photos – the staff were quite amused, but Elizabeth loved it)

    We did not allow Elizabeth to pick up Matthew until this summer (she’s now 5.5, he’s 1.5) holding was permitted only if she was sitting down calmly and we placed him in her arms.

    She always got the first turn to hold him when visitors came if she asked nicely and she got to introduce him. We also tried to make sure that all the visits didn’t center around baby but included her. I avoided making a big deal about opening presents if they didn’t obviously include something for her.

    We made a point of telling the baby he “had to wait, it was Elizabeth’s turn” sometimes (since she got to hear that a lot in the early days!)

    And We talked about the things only she got to do because she was “big”.

  3. Jenny Greene September 26, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Wow! Thanks, ladies. Good good stuff! I love the idea of going to the toddler first. That makes sense. And I cannot wait to see them grow up together! My life would not have been the same without my big brother! And expectations after a C-section is a great idea! I haven’t even thought of that. And I love the idea of P getting the first turn to hold him. Her cousin keeps saying she wants to hold him and I see the look on P’s face already, like, “uh… but he’s mine!” Thanks for all the tips, ladies! We’re getting excited!

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