Quick disclaimer: Sometimes, having children is a choice. If you don’t want children, then don’t have them. No judgment here. If you have one child and want to stick with your one child, that is awesome. If you have your heart set on 10 and your partner and bank account are willing, you go, girl! Every time someone says “Oh, your children are giving me baby fever! I want a baby!” I say to them, “You’d better really want it. You’ve got to want it. Every single day, you have to want this!” Dramatic, much? YES. VERY DRAMATIC. These are human lives. It’s not a Meg Ryan movie that will end in 90 minutes, it’s 24/7 trench warfare and you’re the general. If you don’t want kids, then get some prophylactics. I fully support your decision either way. You do you.
Parent Attitude with More Than One Child
“Oh, what’s another 5 or 6?”
-Father Darling, on adopting the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, The Musical!
Father Darling obviously did not play the role of “primary parent” in the Darling household. Going from one child to more than one, like all things parenting, is not for the faint of heart.
Expecting for the First Time
The moment that single line turns to two lines, or the blank screen displays “PREGNANT”, or you get the phone call that you’ve been waiting for, your life ceases to be your own and your whole attitude changes. Nothing will ever be the same from that moment on
A whirlwind few months go by, and between the decision of pink or blue, the paint color for the nursery, long-awaited doctor appointments to hear that heartbeat, brunches with soon-to-be grandparents, and gift registries, you sit. You sit in the new glider, or on the couch, or heck, even on the floor, because it really doesn’t matter where you are sitting-what matters is that it’s silent. And you can sit and bask in the glorious, silent expectation of the beauty that is coming.
After that first baby comes and the refrigerator is stocked with breast milk or casseroles or formula or ice packs, the training begins. Nothing can prepare a new parent for being a new parent - no class, no book, not even Hell Week at Basic Training. Everything you thought you knew about being a parent becomes irrelevant at 3 a.m. when this baby needs to be consoled and you are the only person in the world who knows what to do (or who doesn’t know what to do). It doesn’t matter. TAG! You’re it. It’s the nitty-gritty. It’s where the rubber meets the road. However you decide to say it, this is the pivotal moment in a parent's life where the sleeves must be rolled up, and the work truly begins.
A few months pass, and you’ve really started to get a handle on this. You know the noises they make and what they mean. That cry means she is hungry and if she doesn’t get her bottle in the next 30 seconds, she won’t sleep tonight. That whimper means that he got his leg stuck in the crib again and you have to go work it out of the mess of sheets and liners before he really wakes up and we’re all in trouble. You and your spouse or partner know that baby, and that baby knows you. Just the three of you. What could be better?
Mother Nature Thinks She’s Sooooooo Funny
This is where mother nature wins, because this parenting gig is starting to feel fun - even easy at times! Let’s have another one! “What’s another 5 or 6?” It’s another human entirely. Everything about the process will be that much more. It will be easier, and it will be harder. Each child is a human, and each child has their own specific set of needs. In the beginning, the eldest child may or may not understand that Mommy doesn’t feel well and needs rest. If your new addition was born into your heart and home by adoption, that situation brings along its own unique challenges of timing and preparation, and gifts of fulfillment and love.
In some cases (raising my own hand, here), the preparation for baby #2 is less enthusiastic. This is not because of a lack of excitement or wanting for that child, but in my experience, I was incredibly sick for most of the pregnancy with #2, and when I wasn’t working or getting my oldest to and from school, I was laying down and hoping that the fairy godmother from Cinderella was real and that she was just running late that day. Appointment days at the OB/GYN usually started with the phrase “Hm, I think I have something to do today, but I can’t remember what it is…” Also, there is no silent sitting and basking in silence. None. You have your first child, and now you’re going to go back and do it all over again, but this time, with your first child in tow. Mother Nature thinks she’s sooooooo funny.
How to Prepare Your Oldest Child for Their New Sibling
As a big sister, I know the importance of being a gracious and supportive sibling (right, guys??) Because I know the responsibilities that come with the distinguished title of “Big Sister”, I threw my oldest a “Big Sister Tea Party” before her sibling was born. During this party, we decorated books about what types of jobs big sisters have to do (bring Mommy a diaper, sing the baby songs, play peek-a-boo). Guests brought books about being a big sister, and she was gifted with baby dolls. She was ready to be a big sister!
A few weeks before her baby brother arrived, we toured the Mother/Baby unit at the local hospital and saw a room like the one that Mommy would be in. She saw the nursery with the small babies, and even got a big sister sticker and a newborn diaper from the nurse. She was ready to be a big sister! Her Godmother and I took her for her first big girl haircut and went for a fancy lunch on the river. She was special and treasured, and she had a new job to do. She was going to be a very special, very loved big sister.
I sat her down and told her that the doctor would have to get the baby out of Mommy’s tummy and she would have a boo-boo for a while so she would not be able to pick her up until mommy was all better. We showed her videos of her when she was a baby. We talked about how much she cried
Children’s hearts are delicate, but also open and ready to love. If they are nurtured and properly prepared change can be a very positive thing for them. And when that second baby comes, so does change.
My daughter was the picture of grace, and has been these past 8 months when it comes to her brother. She treasures him. She was gentle and helpful, excited and patient. We made her a part of the process of welcoming “our boy” (this is what she calls him) into our family, and by doing so we gave her some ownership of it. Ownership of their family is key-this is THEIR family that they will have long after Mommy and Daddy are gone. They have to know how important they are to each other from the beginning. Our girl is the binky-getter, the bottle-holder, and the girl that makes the baby laugh when Mommy or Daddy have to finish dinner. He adores her, and she adores him.
Each aspect of parenting gets that much harder/better. You have two completely different young humans that fully depend on you. But they have each other and will always have each other. There are two bath times, two bedtimes, and sometimes, two dinner times to manage. And this will change, too. But what will not change is our love for them, and that they have each other. There will be tantrums and crying spells
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