Standing in a grocery store check out line with a cranky 18 month old who had totally (and suddenly) developed a strong willed mind of her own, it hit me. Here I was, 16 weeks pregnant, 4 months along – with another child, when the one that I already had was entering the threshold to the terrible two’s. She was too young to understand WHY mommy was tired, to grasp why I was a little crankier than usual and was still in the midst of mourning the loss of her own bedtime breastfeeding sessions with massive nighttime tantrums that left her sleeping in my bed.
What was I thinking?
All I could think about was that soon, I would have an infant, AND an independent two year old who still believed that the world revolved around her. How was I going to cope with both? How would my daughter, who had been a one and only all her life, suddenly be able to share my time? And as the pregnancy progressed, how in the world was I going to keep up with her and the demands of my body?
One of the beauties, that we far too often overlook during a first pregnancy, is that with no other children in the home we can live in our world of dreams. We can nap when we want to, rest when we need to. We don’t have to submit to the constant demands of a child that needs caring for around the clock, and we certainly don’t have to feel guilty about being pregnant.
With the second pregnancy, regardless of how far apart your children are conceived – the emotions and amount of energy it takes can be all consuming. With the dream of a large family, with having more than one child, also comes the consequence of our children having to deal with mom being pregnant. And the reality is that when they are very young, the idea of a baby in mommy’s belly is as easy to conceptualize for them as a Dr. Seuss book.
There are however some words of advice, from someone who ‘has been there done that’ that can help.
- Let go of guilt! Sure your only child won’t be an only child anymore. They will have to share. But this will also make them a brother or sister and will enrich their lives in many ways. Even if your toddler says they don’t want a baby brother or sister, or seems to be acting up because of the pregnancy, things will level out in the long run. One of the worst traps you can fall into is allowing your parenting to be led by guilt.
- Rest with your child. Instead of trying to get things done when your child is napping, nap with them. Make sure that you utilize time to rest so that you can keep your emotional and physical batteries charged.
- Talk often to your child about their baby brother or sister to be. It is important that you make your toddler feel involved. Tell them stories about how amazing it will be to be a big brother or sister. Ask for THEIR input about the baby. In other words, allow them to feel included. Most importantly, up-play their role as the BIG KID in the house. Also, consider allowing your toddler to help decorate the nursery or make something special for your newborn.
- Don’t allow others to forget your toddler. Let’s face it, people get pretty wrapped up in a new baby and a pregnancy. And this can make your toddler feel worse. When people try to focus on your pregnancy – try to avert attention to your toddler. The last message your toddler wants to hear is that they are no longer important to anyone.
- Ask for help when needed. You will be surprised how many people will be willing to help you. Too often, moms get caught up in the notion that they should be able to ‘do it all.’ The sooner you let go of this notion, the better off you will be.
- Make sure your child has people and a place they feel comfortable without YOU. When delivery day comes, your child needs to know what will happen. Make sure that you make plans with family and or friends ahead of time and discuss them with your toddler so that they won’t be apprehensive come delivery day. Consider allowing your child to stay at home and have family members come to your house if they are apprehensive about sleeping away from home.
- Stay in your routine. To a toddler, a routine is imperative to their behavior and emotions. Try to keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible – even after the baby is born.
- Be flexible. The reality will be that things ARE going to change. You may not be able to do everything by ‘the book’ with either the pregnancy or the new baby. Parent intuitively by listening to your needs.
- Last but not least – remember that your 2 year old will remember things, whereas your newborn will not. Once the baby comes, make sure to schedule some special, alone time with your older child/ren so that they still feel special.
One thing is for sure. Time seems to make everything better. Most of the time our worries about what the future holds are far worse than the realities.
Written By Stef, Mom of 4 @Mom-Spirational
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.