It’s funny how my brain has gone into overdrive now that I know I am expecting number two…
After the initial ecstasy that the discovery of being pregnant brings comes the fear and uncertainty of how I will cope with two children. “You’ll manage,” I hear the words of encouragement from friends. And I’m sure I will, just as every parent before me has done so, but the anxiety does not abate.
I think of all the things I wish I had done differently with Gavin and how I’m going to do all those things with the new baby. Yes, despite practicing as a text-book Mum, I still feel there were things I would have started doing with Gavin earlier if only I had known about them earlier. I wonder if it will be as easy to to practice them this time around? For though the knowledge is there, will the presence of an older child be a hindrance?
And then I think about Gavin – so very precious to me and how he’s going to take it all when the baby becomes real. We’ve told him there’s a new addition to the family, but I don’t think he really gets it – yet. Well, he won’t really understand until the baby arrives in the flesh. By that time, how he handles it depends on how well we have prepared him and how well we transition the new arrival.
I’ve been digging through my old parenting books to read up on ways to ease the introduction of a new baby to your older child. Chapters that I skipped through the first time around because they didn’t apply to me back then are now sought after gems of information. Anything that might help… Funnily, I’m not worried about the new baby so much as I am worried about Gavin’s feelings. How will he take it after having Mummy’s undivided attention for so long? Can I possibly hope to adequately prepare him?
One thing I have decided is that I will not be weaning him – unless he chooses to do so himself. After rereading the chapter on weaning in “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding“, weaning at this stage sounds like a mistake. Because nursing to a toddler is so much more than simply nutrition and food, weaning requires supplementing the “missed” nursing time with extra attention. It might be reading a book, going for walks, painting together – whatever the activity, it must be something extra of yourself that is devoted to your child to replace that private time he your exclusive attention while nursing.
Given how lethargic I feel these days, plus the occasional bouts of nausea, I’d choose nursing and cuddling over those extra activities which I’m sure would only be half my effort given how I’m feeling. Nope, if we’re going to wean, then Mummy had better be “all there” rather than halfway between lala land and the realm of nausea. For this reason, I’m glad Gavin is a nursing toddler. I’m sure being able to continue nursing will help him better adjust to our new arrival.
What else can do you do prepare your toddler? Well, I don’t know what else to call it but “brainwashing”. I spend a little time every day telling him about the baby that’s growing inside my tummy and reaffirming his promise to love the baby. Hopefully, after nine months, he’ll be so convinced he loves the baby that he really will.
His godmother has also kindly offered to help babysit him so he gets used to the idea of being away from Mummy for periods of time. This is probably the most critical part for us right now because Gavin hasn’t really been looked after by anyone but me since he developed stranger anxiety. So far, playing with his godsister seems to be the only distraction that fully consumes him for long enough to stop him wondering where Mummy is. The goal at the end of the nine months is to work him up to being away from Mummy for a few days (when I go into hospital for the delivery).
Last, but not least, spend as much quality time with him now while I still can. Of which I’m afraid I’ve been rather bad at since I’ve been giving in to the feelings of lethargy, nausea and general unease. So, from tomorrow onwards, I’m going to try harder.
So here are the four methods I’m currently employing to help prepare Gavin (I’ll be scouring the books for more tips, but in the meantime, any experienced parents with extra tips are welcomed to add them in the comments below):
- Continue nursing
- Brainwash him
- Get him used to being looked after by someone else
- Spend more quality time with him