Thought I might start this year with a blog about adding a new baby to the family. As we have welcomed so many new babies this season with older siblings, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few of the things we are learning from the families.
First of all, I have to say: WORRY LESS ABOUT YOUR FIRSTBORN! Everyone we work with spends the majority of their time worrying about how the transition will go after the new baby arrives. Most of the time, it is much less dramatic than they anticipate.
Siblings usually react in some ways that are less welcoming than we want, saying things like, "Take the baby back to the hospital." or "Put the baby down and hold me (or pay attention to me) instead." It happens, you hurt a bit, and then you make a new normal.
Occasionally we see some siblings that are more aggressive towards the new one, but most of the time we see a lot of love and affection towards the new baby. One sibling asked about an hour after being shown his new baby brother, "Would it be OK if I touched the baby gently now?" Very sweet stuff.
Next thing? FEEL LESS GUILTY ABOUT SPENDING LESS TIME WITH YOUR NEW BABY. One of the coolest things that families adding a baby find is that the relationship with the older child fills the gap for the lack of 110% devotion you are able to provide now that you have 2 (or more). This surprises most families, but is a welcome relief to those who worried so much beforehand.
Third and last: GET AS MUCH SLEEP AS YOU CAN. We have found that many a 2nd or 3rd baby (or twins!) makes the reality sink in very quickly that you can only live sleep deprived for so long. When you have an older child or two that have outgrown naps during the day (or nap on different schedules than the new baby) you don't have the luxury of sleeping when the baby sleeps like you may have the first time. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to rest while nursing, while daddy or partner have the older child, and let others do things for you.
For some reason it seems easier to ask for help the second time around, so dont' be shy. (I think it is due to the reality of living through how difficult it is the first time, and now of course you know what you need help with!) Feel free to be specific about what you need or want, and thank people profusely, knowing you will be able to repay the favors later.
As I have watched so many clients welcome another baby into a bigger circle of family, it has warmed my heart that they usually end up with a much bigger heart to love with. You don't think it will happen, but it does! Try to keep that in your mind and try to move down the worry list a little more quickely, at least if only to get a little more sleep!