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Wednesday, 07 November 2012 11:14

Big Sister Clara

When I first started thinking ahead to when my second baby would be born, and realized that my first baby would still be less than 2 years old at that time, I started planning how to make this transition for Clara as easy as possible.

First, we planned some of her big 'changes' to be as far away from the time of Audrey's birth as we could. 

We introduced the toddler bed to Clara's room in August - which we felt was still a bit young for Clara, but she needed to move before Audrey needed it and we thought it would be easiest to have it available to her before she was even aware of another baby. This one was easy - Clara was so excited to have the toddler bed, that she moved into it the night we moved it in and has never looked back to her crib.

We weren't thinking about potty training until Clara started having tantrums  while changing her diapers and WANTED to start using the potty, so we got that (mostly) done ahead of time also.

We would like to wean her from her soother (or, 'gummy' as she calls it for a reason unknown to us) in the not-too-distant-future, but we plan to wait on that now until at least after Christmas.

Other than that, the biggest thing I did to (try to) prepare Clara was to talk about the baby. She moved into a toddler bed, and I would mention occasionally how 'the baby' would sleep in the crib.  I would tell her there was a baby in my belly, and if we ever saw a newborn out in 'the real world' (a place I don't venture to often) I would remind her of the baby in my belly and tell her that baby was going to come out soon.  She seemed to 'get' this on some level, and even started hugging and kissing my belly, which was adorable.  We also had a book we read to Clara often (and she became quite obsessed with it), that talked about a little girl who's mother left her house for a couple of days and returned with a baby - I would read it to her and draw all of the parallels I could find.

Clara and Audrey's First Meeting

Then I planned for the introduction itself. Clara was used to staying over night with her Grandparents by now, so I didn't worry about this being stressful for her.

I was determined, however, that Clara was to be the FIRST visitor at the hospital to see her new baby sister. Brian's parents brought her to the hospital, and then they waited for about half an hour to give us a chance to introduce the girls.

I made a point of repeatedly telling Clara that the baby in my belly was Audrey, and now she's out - I have no idea if she understands, but it's worth a try, right?

Clara was so excited to see Audrey. Her voice has developed into the highest possible human registers (sometimes I'm sure only dogs can hear her), and she squealed 'BABY!' repeatedly to anyone around. She will also announce 'Tha's Audjee' to new visitors.

When we got home from the hospital, we sent Clara with Brian's parents again to meet us there.  Brian and I stopped for cupcakes on our way for 'Audrey' to bring to her big sister. We brought them in and told Clara 'look what Audrey brought for you', and the first thing Clara did was pick up a cupcake and try to give it to Audrey.

She loved 'holding' Audrey, and will frequently announce 'I 'old 'er' to us and sit down on the couch with her arms outstretched towards Audrey.

She will then lean forward to kiss Audrey, and squeal 'Hey, Babeeee!' (highest possible registers), and occasionally poke her in the eye.

Not to say she hasn't been jealous, because her behaviour since Audrey's birth has been trying at the best of times. Luckily, however, she doesn't seem to have realized that Audrey is the cause of all of the upheaval in our home.  Brian has been home for almost two weeks now, and Clara is loving the attention but it has definitely thrown off her regular schedule. 

Suddenly, she seems hyper-active almost all the time, and has started defying us in ways she never did before.  Putting her to bed at night used to be a breeze - now she will run around the house trying to escape us, saying 'I don't want to nap!'

I have also noticed my feelings toward Clara have changed. I feel awful admitting this, but I'm hoping that maybe it's at least a little bit normal.

Clara is no longer 'my baby', and that place has now been taken by someone else. As a mother, I think my primary response now is to protect 'my baby' above all others (this is my theory about why my feelings toward Clara have changed - I don't know if it's accurate or not).  With Clara's sudden hyper-activity, I perceive her as a potential threat to 'my baby', and I suddenly find myself wary of her.

I still love her to death, but my patience for her is much thinner, and I find myself wanting her to be kept away from me (and Audrey, who is often in my arms).  I realized this change of behaviour (in myself) a couple of days ago, and since then I have made a point of putting Audrey down sometimes so that I can spend time with Clara without worrying about Audrey getting kicked in the head or poked in the eye with a crayon.  This has helped a lot, I think, and gives me a chance to really spend time with Clara - which has been difficult for the last month or so.

How did you (or do you plan to) prepare your children for younger siblings? How did they react? Did you find your feelings toward your older child changing somewhat when younger siblings were born?

Read 2169 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 November 2012 20:47

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