Want to experience the ultimate mommy guilt? Bring home a new baby to your (previously) only child. You can add this to the list of things no one prepares you for in motherhood. Who knew such pain could accompany those warm and fuzzy feelings of bringing a new baby into the world.
Whether your subsequent pregnancy is planned or not, the first time you look at your first born’s face after getting that positive pregnancy test is bound to break your heart. As if being pregnant isn’t hard enough, suddenly a rush of intense emotions (including some regret) will hit you. You’ll wonder how you’ll manage to provide enough love and attention for two children. You’ll conjure up every possible bad reaction that your little one could have upon learning of his or her new sibling. And naturally, you will feel incredibly guilty for the impending jealousy that is soon to occur in your household.
Breathe mama, breathe.
As a mom who recently went through this major life event myself, I can tell you I’m no expert. But, I can assure you that introducing baby #1 to baby #2 was not nearly the fiasco I thought it was going to be. It was, in fact, beautiful.
Here are my tips to make the transition into a party of 4 as smooth as possible…
Make it fun – We made up a story about how the baby in mommy’s belly was a little elf. Every night I would tell my son stories about the baby elf who was busy making him toys in her workshop (aka my ever-growing belly!). It made the idea of the baby fun and added some magic to the whole experience. Plus, it was cool for him to receive those magical toys from the baby when he met her in the hospital.
Inclusion, inclusion, inclusion! – I tried to include my son in every aspect of my pregnancy that I could. I called him to feel my belly whenever the baby kicked. I brought him to my doctor’s appointments with me – he loved hearing her heartbeat on the doppler! I showed him pictures of what she looked like every week from an app I downloaded on my phone. I truly think this helped build his excitement for baby #2 along with my husband and I. Now that the baby is here, I include him in diaper changes, bath time, and feedings.
“Our Baby” – We tried to refer to the baby as “our baby” as much as possible. I thought it was important to remind all of us that we were growing our family and that just because the baby was growing in mommy’s belly, it doesn’t mean she was just mine.
Keep things normal – Once the baby arrived, we tried to get back to our normal schedule as quickly as possible. Part of keeping things normal, for us, is maintaining one-on-one time with baby #1. As hard as it can be with a newborn in the house, I’ve found that my son is happiest when he gets to go “buh-bye” with just mommy or daddy.
Will there still be guilt? Absolutely. Will there still be jealousy? Naturally. But introducing baby #1 to baby #2 is by far one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences that motherhood has to offer. Savor every minute of it.