As an only child in my 20s, I had definite ideas about how I envisioned my future family. Most importantly, it involved more than one child (and Matt. Duh). I never really minded being an only child when I was a kid. I had cousins to play with, tons of friends who thought their siblings were sooooo annoying, and I was always very close with my parents. Once I became an adult and I started noticing the relationships my friends now had with their sisters and brothers, that’s when it started bothering me. Seeing my parents and husband’s parents care for aging and ailing parents also reminded me that I don’t have siblings with whom I can share that job. (Thankfully, my parents are two fresh-faced crazy kids themselves, so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live in your house!!)
So back to having more than one child. After Nolan was born, I made up my mind: I am DONE. No more kids. I had a difficult delivery, and he wasn’t the easiest baby. By the time his first birthday rolled around, I turned a blind eye to all that and remembered all the reasons I don’t want just one. Fast forward a few years and here we are, expecting baby #2!
Nolan, like most toddlers, tends to be, let’s call it…persistent. He doesn’t forget anything and he loves nothing more than to repeat himself. For that reason and a few others, we decided to wait about 4.5 months before we told him. The conversation was pretty amusing:
Me: Have you noticed that my belly looks kind of big and round?
Nolan: No, I don’t think your belly looks big.
Me: Oh, well it is. What could be in there that’s making it so big?
Nolan: Ummmm… food? Milk? Yogurt?
Needless to say, he never guessed correctly and we just came out and told him.
That was about a month ago and he hasn’t been too curious since then. He sometimes talks about teaching his baby brother to play hockey and baseball. He periodically rubs my belly and says, “There’s a baby in there?” And tonight he told me we should name the baby Moonaganna. I think the two books we put into the bedtime rotation have helped quell his curiosity.
The first is a classic that I loved as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.
I remembered very little about this book other than Brother Bear outgrowing his bed just in time. Upon rereading it, I was surprised to find that (spoiler alert!) Mama Bear delivers the baby alone in her home while Papa and Brother are out building a new bed. I’m still not sure if I feel empowered or degraded by that.
The Baby Tree is narrated by a little boy who finds out his parents are expecting a new baby, and he doesn’t understand where the baby will come from. He asks people in his family and neighborhood and gets all sorts of backwards and roundabout answers until he asks his parents who finally explain it. At first I was worried that the book was too old for Nolan; not in the sense that it’s inappropriate in any way, but I wasn’t sure he would be interested in the story or understand enough of it. Well, I was wrong and he loves it. The illustrations are beautiful and there is even a page after the story with more specific answers to kids’ questions about conceiving and delivering babies.
How did you prepare your children for new siblings? Did you find that they were excited or did the jealousy begin before the baby even arrived?