Welcoming A New Sibling To the World July 02, 2013 09:33
There is something uniquely special about the oldest child. They are a parent’s first everything. First pregnancy, first birth, first sleepless night, first love. Our first children teach us so much about being parents and how we can change and adapt so drastically to become better versions of ourselves. Once you have your first baby, the concept of loving anyone else as much as him is inconceivable. He is the center of your universe.
This feeling of devotion to my first son led to some fairly intense anxiety about having a second child. We wanted to grow our family without a doubt, and knew a sibling would be one of the greatest gifts we could give to our son. But the thought of sharing my affections, attentions and heart with another child quite frankly scared me. I was worried about the impact it would have on my first, and I was worried that I might forever favor the older child. I was also of course concerned about the logistics and challenges involved with adding another member to the family.
Fortunately, our second pregnancy came as a surprise, which took the pressure off of deciding when was the right time. I was overjoyed and terrified all at once – most moms know that feeling. I obsessed over every little detail of how I would divide my time between the two, and how I would ensure that no major disruption would come to my older son’s ‘perfect’ life. As the pregnancy progressed, the worry was gradually replaced by love, adoration and excitement. Logically I knew it would all work out, knew that my heart would grow to more than accommodate my new baby, and I knew that the ‘disruption’ a sibling would cause in our home would in the long run be a good thing for my toddler.
Welcoming a new baby is difficult for an only child. They experience a great sense of loss – everything that was once theirs alone must now be shared. Expectations from their parents naturally change. Life is different. Of course children love babies and also share in the joy of their new sibling’s arrival; but it is a more emotional and complex issue for them than we sometimes give credit for.
The key for us when our second child was born, was to find a balance between expecting our toddler to be the ‘big boy’ and allowing him to still be our baby. Keeping our expectations in check and our patience on high helped a lot with the transition for everyone. We did a lot of talking to help our son prepare for the changes that were coming, and we vowed to maintain some of the special time that was just for him.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy; having a second baby threw me for a loop. But the love part was easy, and though it was emotional in many ways for big brother, overall it was easy for him too. Two years later, and my boys are the best of friends. My oldest son truly can’t even remember life before his brother, and regularly asks what baby is in my tummy now so they can have another brother (there isn’t one!). My oldest son taught me so much about being a mom, and my youngest son taught me an unforgettable lesson in how infinite love really is.