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Week 34: Building “big sister” hype

Being pregnant with my second has been different for so many reasons. One of the biggest is the fact that this pregnancy affects more than just me and my husband. It’s not just two adults preparing for a big life change; this time we also have an 18-month-old thrown into the mix. While my kiddo...

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Being pregnant with my second has been different for so many reasons. One of the biggest is the fact that this pregnancy affects more than just me and my husband. It’s not just two adults preparing for a big life change; this time we also have an 18-month-old thrown into the mix. While my kiddo may be brilliant (according to me), she is in no way able to comprehend the changes ahead. Luckily, she has been so patient with the ways things have already changed over the past eight months. She’s learned how to give mommy “massages” when I am trying to rest on the couch, she very sweetly says, “OK, mommy,” when I tell her she can’t have something because it’s for baby brother, and she even willingly participates in a pajama day when I feel particularly exhausted and have to skip our trip to the park. Now that we are nearing the end of pregnancy my husband and I are coming up with ways to try and prepare her for when mommy and daddy are mysteriously gone for a couple of days when I go into labor, then visiting us in a strange place, and finally for the life altering shock of a new baby suddenly coming home.
We have tried to be very intentional about talking to her about “baby brother” throughout the day and including her in conversations. Every morning when we have family snuggles we ask if she wants to say good morning to baby brother, to which she happily pulls up my shirt to smooch my belly. When I am doing something around the house to prepare for baby, like tiny laundry or sterilizing bottles and pacifiers I will explain to her what I am doing. I ask her a lot of questions throughout the day like, “Are you going to help mama change brother’s diaper?” or, “Are we going to share your bath toys with baby brother?” I’m not sure that she really comprehends all of the questions or conversations, but I think it’s definitely a start!
In all the crazy unpredictability with labor, we have done our best to have a plan that gives her the most consistency while we are gone. Of course we have plans B, C, D, E and F, but plan A is to have her stay home with all of her things and grammy and papa come dote on her. While we are gone, she of course will be spoiled as grandparents always do, but she will have special treats that we have put together in a big sister kit just for her. The same sort of thing will be waiting for her at the hospital when she comes to visit with little treats and extra fun things to get her excited. I have known some kids who are immediately obsessed with their new sibling and others who are completely indifferent. Either way, she will be stuck in the hospital room for a little while, so we want to be extra prepared for any scenario.
When we are all home as a family of four (well, five if you count our dog, who will have his own set of adjustments), we are going to try to keep things as normal for her as possible. One piece of advice that I’ve heard from multiple friends is to include the big sibling in helping as much as possible. So, we even got her a special baby doll that she helps take care of with a pacifier and bottle. Then when mama is doing something with brother, she can get her baby and take care of it at the same time. One thing that we do know for sure is that there will still be a ton of adjustments, so we plan to give ourselves grace and allow time for a learning curve.