That’s the scream that greets us at around 5:45am each day as our 2 year old bounds cheerfully into our bedroom and checks the Moses basket to ensure his new sibling is still there. Amazingly, our 4 week old has mastered the art of sleeping through this.
I wish I had.
It’s safe to say I was worried about how our new arrival might impact on our son. With just two years and two weeks between the boys, my eldest is still very much a baby to me.
I worried that he’d feel pushed aside or that our beautiful relationship simply might not hold its shape with a baby around.
I worried that I would miss out on little moments because I might be too busy changing nappies or soothing a crying newborn or generally wondering how I would juggle the two of them.
I could put some of my worry down to the usual pregnancy induced anxiety. But these are genuine concerns too. I know plenty of people whose eldest children had struggled to adapt with a second.
But it went (so far) better than expected for us.
While I was pregnant, I read all sorts of things about how to introduce a toddler to a newborn sibling. Some advice suggested making sure Mummy isn’t holding the newborn when the toddler arrives. Some suggested waiting until you get home. Some suggested letting the toddler bring a gift for the newborn.
In the end, I decided our newborn would be able to win Oliver around with good old fashioned bribery. So we bought a helicopter toy to give Oliver as a gift from the baby. He came to see me in hospital the morning after the C section and bounded onto my lap. That was painful, but at the same time, having not seen my boy for 36 hours, it was wonderful.
Then we let him peer into the cot and see the baby before giving him the helicopter.
It did the trick. He was pleased as punch, though pretty much ignored the baby (and me) for the rest of his visit in favour of flying a helicopter into a window.
Bringing Baby Home and 4 Weeks Later
Baby Ethan arrived home some 30 hours after being born. Oliver was in bed already, so he first saw him the next morning. He was pleased to see me home and seemed equally overjoyed to have the baby home.
I was still worried it might not last.
But 4 weeks later and things are still pretty good. Oliver refers to Ethan as “my baby,” constantly.
Recently, he’s started trying to pick the baby up and given that his approach to doing so is to either drag him from his bouncer by the clothes or attempt to pick him up by the head, we’re trying to get him not to.
But of course, we don’t want to push him away from the baby. Instead, we’ve told him if he’d like to hold the baby, he should tell Mummy or Daddy and sit on the sofa so baby can sit with him. This is working so far, though we’re keeping a close eye on it of course.
He’s also been genuinely helpful. When we’re changing the baby’s nappy, he runs out to fetch a new nappy and takes dirty ones to the bin.
He talks to the baby, kisses the baby, cuddles him gently and generally does really well with him.
Oliver has adapted better than me and my husband have, to be fair. Though his 11 hours of sleep each night probably help that process. There are still times Oliver will ask me to do something or try to drag me off to play while I’m feeding or tending to the baby and I still have a pang of guilt every time I can’t go and do something because I’m seeing to Ethan. But he’s understanding the explanation as to why I can’t do something right now and is pretty patient when it comes to waiting for a few minutes.
We’ve kept a few things as “the same,” as we could. I still have my 15 minutes before bed reading Oliver’s stories – just me and him – and having bedtime cuddles. I still make sure I have 20 minutes in a morning to do jigsaw puzzles with Oliver. And once I can drive again (bloody C sections!), he and I will go swimming alone each week. I want to make sure he still gets his quality one on one time.
Of course, it’s early days yet, but with the exception of him trying to feed the new baby Lego Duplo and attempting to pick him up by the head, our introduction has been relatively smooth so far and nothing gives me greater joy than seeing the two of them together.