Pregnancy Journal: Fostering Sibling Relationships

I was too tired to take a new picture again! I promise next week I will!

If you haven’t been following along, you can read my introduction here!

This week finds me at almost 13 weeks…nearly done with the first trimester, yay!  I’m starving all the time now.  I have energy and feel completely normal now, well past the morning sickness.  It’s been nice because now I can cook and eat and take care of my house again as needed.  I’m also working on shaking off the pregnancy jitters (or fatigue if my son has kept me up at night!) and being a more patient mom.  I have a long way to go but we’re doing better.

It’s so hard to focus on this baby.  With my first, I woke up everyday thinking that I had this amazing, delicious secret: I was pregnant!  I really thought that every day until the day Bekah was born.  The second time, I was definitely distracted, but there were moments that I felt that the baby I was carrying was special.  I thought about him a lot when Bekah was asleep (because in those days, I was guaranteed a break at nap time!).

But this time…there’s just so much going on around me.  Often times at least one child is up and something is going on.  If not, then I am busy doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, or even blogging.  My life is so busy that I don’t have very many quiet, private moments to just think about this baby.  And since this time I haven’t had any ultrasounds, I don’t even have a picture of the baby or anything to go on.  I only have the memory of hearing the baby’s heartbeat.  I keep focusing on the fact that in a few weeks, I’ll be feeling the baby move frequently, and then I will deliberately steal moments in the evening, when the kids are in bed, to bond with the baby.  I am really looking forward to that. 

It’s harder to bond with subsequent children because your life is so full.  And in some ways, especially before birth, you’re getting to know the new baby in context of the entire family unit, not as an individual.  Later babies have to slide into the family’s routine much more so than earlier babies.  But I know this baby, whoever s/he is, will be a unique individual whom I will appreciate and love.

Sibling Bonding

Before Daniel was born, we talked to Bekah about babies.  We pointed out moms who were pregnant.  We talked about the baby in my belly.  We looked at pictures of babies, including Bekah’s own baby pictures.  She wasn’t even 18 months yet when Daniel was born, so she wasn’t very interested.  She would smile and point at babies, but that was about the extent of it.  She was really too young to understand, although we believe that she “sensed” what was happening.  The first moment she saw Daniel she was thrilled and fascinated but not surprised.  It was like she understood that he belonged, that he was ours.

I thought, even though she was young, that I could try to bring out her “maternal instincts.”  We gave her baby dolls and read her books.  Much of it was lost on her.  But, I felt confident because she is a girl and I was a little mommy when I was young, and I was sure she would be too.  (She is now.)

With Daniel I was not sure.  I didn’t figure he’d necessarily have any interest in babies.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Would he be jealous or just uninterested?  I wasn’t sure how to approach teaching a boy about babies.

Luckily, in the last couple of weeks, Daniel has become fascinated with babies!  He likes to look at books with pictures of babies.  He points at them and says “Baby!”  When we met a woman with a newborn at a store earlier this week, he kept trying to climb out of the cart to get to the baby.  He pointed and smiled and laughed, repeatedly said “Baby!” and tried to rock the baby’s carseat.  When I’ve held babies, he likes to smile at them and touch them.  There’s no jealousy there.  (Bekah likes to give babies hugs and talk about how she needs to be gentle with them.)

I hope to keep fostering this fascination with babies and this bond between siblings.  Bekah and Daniel are so bonded.  They fight, of course, like any siblings.  But they get bored and unhappy when the other is gone.  They play together very often.  They chase each other around the house.  Daniel has even knocked on Bekah’s door to wake her from a nap because he missed her!  They seem to genuinely enjoy one another (most of the time!) and prefer to be together than apart.  And since they’re both so interested in babies, I hope they’ll feel that way about their new sibling, too.  I want them to celebrate each addition to the family as a wonderful new playmate.  I want them to know there is more love and attention and fun to go around, not less!  So far they seem on board with that!

Fostering sibling relationships is so important.  And that can start in pregnancy, as it has here.  Every week, I make it a point to show Bekah (and sometimes Daniel) a picture of what the baby looks like now.  I’ll show them more baby pictures of themselves later (Bekah’s now fascinated by this and frequently asks for “pictures of baby Bekah”).  I’ll even show them birth videos.  I’ll take them to visit friends who have babies before I do, so they can meet live babies and learn to be gentle with them.  I want them to be excited for our baby’s arrival!

(Funny story: Bekah has a book where the main character has a pillow fight and the pillows burst open and feathers go everywhere.  Some of the feathers drawn are quite large and curved.  She points to the feathers, which are roughly the size and shape of an 8 or 10 week fetus and says “Look, it’s your baby!”  LOL.)

How do you foster sibling relationships at your house?  Were your children jealous or welcoming to their new siblings (in general)?

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