As promised, now that Henri is almost a month old (holy cow!), here on my thoughts on transitioning from one child to two:
We tried to be really proactive with Addie during pregnancy, hoping that a lot of preparation ahead of time would make the transition easier. From very early on, we talked about the baby in my belly, reminded her to be gentle with the baby, encouraged her to give the baby “gentle” pats and kisses, read her some “new baby” books, talked up being a big sister, etc… I really don’t think she truely understood, though, until she turned about 18 months old (I was 6-ish months pregnant). At that point, three new babies started at her daycare, and I honestly think that was the biggest help in preparing her to be a big sister. At first, she was kinda jealous of the babies; she would get a little clingy or upset when her daycare provider held the other babies, and she regressed a little bit in using more baby talk, wanting to use the baby swing, wanting to be rocked to sleep, wanting to use a pacifier, etc… We did a lot of reassuring, at this time, that mommy/daddy/daycare provider love her, that she’s a big helper, and that being a big girl is much better than being a baby.
At 18 months, we also made some big changes that we hoped would make life with two young kids a little easier. We transitioned her to a toddler bed and potty trained. We also started encouraging her to be more independent (walking more, feeding herself, climbing the stairs, falling asleep by herself, etc…). I am so glad we did these things early; since it took Addie a few months to fully adjust to all of these changes, she was a pro by the time we brought Henri home.
Henri was born at 9 pm, and we wanted Addie to be the very first person to meet him, so we asked that everybody hold off on coming to the hospital and just visit us at home, instead. DH left in the middle of my labor to put Addie to bed the night Henri was born, and he left the hospital at 6 am the next morning, so he’d be there when she woke up. He brought her right over to the hospital, and their first meeting was just perfect. Addie was so excited to meet her “baby sis” (she called him sis for the first few days, lol, until she caught on to the whole “brother” thing). She wanted to hold him and rock him and give him his pacifier. The hardest part was just reminding her to be gentle, since she was a bit excited to take care of him, lol. She stayed the whole morning, and left at lunchtime for a nap and some quality time with grandma and grandpa. The next few days we were in the hospital was a repeat of the first day. DH would go home at night and put her to bed, and get up early the next morning to bring her to the hospital. She’d stay for about 4 hours, and then go home at lunchtime with grandma and grandpa.
The day we came home, we actually got back right in the middle of her nap. When she woke up, she was so excited to have “baby Henri” home! However, by the end of the night, she was having a little harder time. She wanted to sit in the baby chair, have a pacifier, drink from a bottle, etc… and she was getting frustrated that we kept redirecting her to her “big girl” things. She also got nervous when Henri cried; at first, she’d tell Henri to “stop it” or “quit.” We spent a lot of time reminding her that yelling “stop it” was not nice, and showing her how to shush and pat him gently, instead. While my husband was off on paternity leave, we tried to keep her busy; we took her swimming and bowling, and she got to spend a lot of quality time with daddy. Overall, she did pretty well, although she sometimes wanted the baby’s things or sometimes wanted to be held when we were feeding/rocking Henri. Honestly, though, within a few days of bringing Henri home, she seemed absolutely fine and it felt like he had always been a part of our family.
Now comes the hard part: My husband went back to work two weeks ago, so I’ve been at home with both babies since then. She has regressed a little in her temper tantrums since then, although to be fair, she also cut her two year molars and had a cold in the last two weeks. It has been difficult, at times, trying to juggle two, but it is so amazing to see her kiss her brother goodnight every night or beg to hold him on her lap. She LOVES to tickle him and she really tries to help out when it comes to taking care of Henri. I cannot wait to see them together as Henri gets older and able to interact with her more. 🙂
- It’s totally normal to feel guilty or upset about introducing another baby. Remember that pregnancy hormones are going to make you feel more intensely, and try to enjoy your time with #1. I felt so incredibly guilty at the end of my pregnancy; my husband spent a ton of time reassuring me that everything was going to turn out ok. And it did. 🙂 Addie loves Henri and only a month in, she can’t remember life without him.
- You may be worried that you won’t love #2 as much or you won’t feel the same way about #2 as you do about your first. It’s true that you’ll feel differently; every baby is different, and you’ll have different relationships with both kids. However, different isn’t bad, and it’s so true that loves multiplies with every child.
- One thing to look forward to, you probably won’t be nearly as anxious/nervous this time around. I feel so much more relaxed this time around, and most moms I know have confirmed they felt the same way. It’s awesome!
- I’ve found that it’s incredibly helpful to keep Addie busty. The busier we are, the better she behaves. Also, I would say that giving her lots of attention and showering her with praise and love while Henri is sleeping has helped a considerable bit. I notice a huge idfference in her behavior on the days I’m not able to spend as much one-on-one time with her.
- Try and give yourself a break. This means taking “mommy time” every day and trying to get enough sleep. When I get too tired or too overworked, I become impatient and Addie becomes a lot harder to deal with. Ask for help as much as you can and give yourself abreak if you don’t accomplish everything you had planned. As long as you have the essentials taken care of, the rest will fall into place.
Good luck to everyone still pregnant! i can’t wait to hear your perspectives and experiences!