I don’t think I was abnormal for being really worried about having my second child. Not only was it another person in our household,!but I was extremely worried about preparing my daughter for our new arrival. From the understanding of how the baby came about and why we wanted another, to preparing her for what will happen at the hospital and what to expect at home once the baby does arrive. All this preparation weighed heavy on my heart. I wanted my daughter to know she was loved and always would be, even though there was to be a new edition to our family. I wanted her to feel as involved and a part of the process as possible.
One thing I decided to do was take E to early prenatal checks (hearing baby’s heartbeat), and I also had an at home fetal Doppler so we could listen to baby’s heart at home and we listened to E’s heartbeat as well. She also joined us to ultrasounds appointments. E got to help put together baby’s room and pick out new big girl bedding for her toddler bed. We played with baby dolls a lot. How to hold baby, and be gentle with baby, and even change baby’s diapers. We talked about how baby’s cry a lot, but that’s how they communicate as they do not know how to use big girl words. Another thing I did was talk with E about how I would look in the hospital. -Mommy will have tubes and cords and a special dress the hospital lets me borrow. It might look a little weird and scary but mommy is happy and okay!- Another thing I did was a daily schedule or routine. This included our meal times, special craft time, library, grocery trips, play time, and so on. I made a picture schedule so that once baby was born we could continue looking at our schedule for the day and there would be some sense of normalcy. I will post on this separately.
The thing I found really helpful getting through the hospital stay and preparing my, at the time, 2 year old for this little newcomer was the Big Sister Bag. When I packed up my hospital bag I also packed up a special bag for E. Inside was a big sister book, some activities for when she was with relatives in the waiting area, and an apron full of baby essentials that she would need to use as a big helper.Having her little bag waiting by the door with my bag, and dad’s bag, made her feel important, excited daily about getting to use her bag, and most importantly, involved with the process.
When I first told E she was to have a new baby coming she understood right away what that meant and understood things would be changing. As intelligent as she is, there were still emotions that were hard for her to understand and work through. I remember when she first entered my hospital room (I decided I’d like her to seee me before baby came so that she was used to the way the room looked, and after baby came the only thing that would be different about the room was the new baby) she seemed a little afraid of me at first. She approached me and said “mommy are those your cords you talked about?” I told her they were. I reminded her that I was very happy and I was very much Okay. After that she was very interested in what was happening. Having already discussed the process several times, her questions were “is the baby out yet?, can we read my big sister book?. Where’s my new baby? So my advice, if your having baby number two remember your older children aren’t dumb. Be honest and open (based upon there level of understanding) and share the excitement of the new edition together. Letting your little ones take the journey with you is a wonderful thing and keeps them a part of the family and the family’s growth. All too much we underestimate children. They understand more than we give them credit. Try adding some fun and excitement when it comes to a new addition to the family with the big sister/big brother bag. There are some photos of the contents of mine below.