Jamie is my first born, he was the first grandchild in the family, my little golden star. It was difficult to decide when the appropriate time would be to try for another baby. A little brother or sister for Jamie was convincingly the greatest idea, but it sure was a scary thought to process.
TWO kids, how would we cope? What would happen if Jamie felt neglected, or if I didn’t have the capacity in my day to split myself in two and be there for the both of them, not to mention still be a wife and keep house. Life was beginning to come to a complicated start, yet, I was ready.
Pregnancy the second time around was proving to be reasonably difficult at times, having to physically pick Jamie up and pay more attention to his needs, as he started acting out and crying for more attention. I couldn’t have a nap (.. whats that?) when I wanted to, or sit with my feet up and relax. It was tough.
As my due date drew nearer, Jamie’s cry for attention became progressively worse. At this point I knew, I had to get ready for the ultimate challenge of motherhood. Raising a (almost) 3 year old, and a newborn baby was going to be the toughest challenge yet.
I took a moment and started preparing myself for it. I encourage anyone that is about to have their second baby to do the same. Regardless the age of their first child, irrespective of the fact that I am no expert, preparation is key. These are tips I would like to share with you in hope that it will give you some peace of mind.
During the pregnancy, I spoke to Jamie about the baby, by his name, every day. I made him realise that this baby would soon be part of our family, and the more I encouraged him and displayed my love and care for the baby, the more he accepted him, and adapted to the fact that I would feel hurt if the baby was hurt, and this would only want to make him love him. This works.
I took him along to one of our scans, one where the baby was well developed and he was able to see enough to realise it was a little being, alive and kicking (a lot), growing inside my tummy.
I allowed him to rub my belly, decorate it with stickers, really connect, talk and sing to the baby. This made him feel involved as much a 2 and a half year old would want to be.
At my baby shower, I had a gift or two for Jamie – this made him feel extra special, especially with all the gifts Riley was getting, it was important to guarantee that Jamie would not feel neglected.
Leading up to the due date, I spent as much quality time with him as I possibly could, it was important for him to know that this belly would not consume all of my time and be the cause of our quality time reaching a dead end. Quite obviously, I could not run, jump or roll around with him anymore, so I opted for cuddles, movies, slow walks and feeding the ducks and the pond.
The day I went in for my planned c-section, I requested that my mom would bring him to visit in the hospital once Riley was born. With the four of us together in the room for the first time, the introduction was extraordinary, and certainly memorable. I encouraged his ‘big brother’ title throughout the whole introduction and assured that his new role was one to look forward to.
I had planned some gifts for Jamie (a small car, a box of Smarties, or a small packet of sweets) and gave a gift to him “from Riley”, each day he visited us in the hospital. Oh boy he loved his brother for getting him all of his favourite things!
When we arrived home, I encouraged Jamie to help with changing of nappies, getting bottles and general baby duties that he was capable of being involved in. Yes, sure, the bum cream was on everything but the bottom, but it made him feel important , needed and grown up.
When Riley was strong enough, at about 6 weeks old, I allowed Jamie to hold him on his own. My nerves nearly got the better of me, but Jamie proved to me that (just like being a mother) being a big brother comes naturally too.
The less you portray your stress and worry when they are around their little brother/sister, the less they will test their boundaries.
Even though baby was taking up majority of my time, I maintained the effort to spend more quality time with Jamie, so he would never feel neglected. in Saying that, it was also important to spend time together with the baby, to encourage the idea that he is part of the family.
Secretly, I Always keep a watchful eye (as boys can be rough), I Encourage him to be his best friend, I Guide him, And make him feel like being a brother is even better than being a super hero.