It was super important to me that Noah not feel left out or replaced once Ryan came. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we waited so long to get pregnant again. I know most women get nervous that they won’t be able to love the second as much as the first. I, on the other hand, felt the complete opposite. I knew I was going to love my second just as much as I loved Noah, and because of that I knew I couldn‘t have another until I was ready to share my love. I wanted for Noah to get all of my loving! I wanted for him to have my undivided attention 24/7. So when we finally felt we were ready to share our love with a second child, the thought of Noah not adjusting consumed me.
Noah was the first “Kid” on both sides of the family – first grandson, first nephew, first great-nephew…you get the picture. When you’re the first you get all of the attention. You are literally the center of attention at every family dinner, every holiday, and everything in between. Sharing love is not a concept you are familiar with. Don’t get me wrong, Noah was actually really good at sharing! He shared all of his toys with his friends and knew how to take turns. We always got great reports from his teachers. But sharing your parents love and affection is definitely different than sharing your favorite toy!
Transitioning to two kids can definitely throw you for a loop. Here are some tips that can help with a smooth[er] transition!
- Include big Sibling from the very beginning
I knew from the very beginning that I would be having a scheduled cesarean, and so I started planning our long hospital stay right away. It killed me to think that we would be away from our boy for so long. I also hated the idea that he might think that we left him for the new baby. So I decided that no matter how chaotic or inconvenient it might be, Noah would stay with us at the hospital for at least one of the nights. I’m happy to report that he did and we all survived to tell the story! In all seriousness, it was truly amazing to include Noah in Ryan’s hospital stay. Our first night as a family of four (which was our 3rd night in the hospital) was spent in close quarters and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! If your hospital allows for siblings to stay the night I totally recommend doing so!
- Toddler first, Newborn second
The best piece of advice that I received and that I would pass on to those transitioning from one to two is this:
The newborn won’t remember, the toddler will.
It’s such a simple concept, but one that I can’t stress enough. When visitors came to meet Ryan, we made sure that they said hello to Noah first. Noah was really excited for all of the visitors, where, let’s face it, Ryan had no idea they were there. I know that Noah enjoyed introducing each and every one of our visitors to his new baby brother. Had they walked right past Noah and gone straight to Ryan, Noah’s reaction and overall attitude would have been very different. A simple reminder to friends and family before they come over or as they’re arriving should do the trick!
- Your hands and heart have room for more than one baby
Your first born will inevitably show signs of regressions and revert to doing things “like a baby” when you add a sibling to the mix. This may include sleep disruptions at night, not making it to the potty in time and having accidents, and just wanting mommy and daddy to do things for them that they’ve been able to do on their own for some time. Adding a second child is hard enough without this added layer – you’re sleep deprived, anxious, and you’re trying to master the juggling act that your life has become. Take a deep breath. Try and remember that this is all new for big brother/sister. They are watching you cuddle and cater to this brand new baby and they’re wondering why they’re not getting the same kind of attention. With Noah, every now and then he comes up to me while I’m holding Ryan and says “have enough room for me?” It’s become our thing and each time I respond with “I always have room for you, hop up” and I put Ryan on one knee and Noah on the other. Noah will always be my first baby and I will always make sure he knows that; no matter how old he is.
- Love is Patient, Love is Kind
This tip piggy backs off of the last one. During those times when regression occurs, or when big brother/sister is clearly ignoring your reminder to be gentle with the baby, remember that love is patient. Getting frustrated and yelling won’t solve anything, in fact it will probably make things worse. There will be times when your toddler will test you and your patience, but remember that he’s only doing so because he’s looking for that undivided attention he was so used to getting before baby arrived. Let him be a kid. Don’t force your toddler to grow up just because there’s a new baby in town. Love on him the same way you’re loving on the newborn. Continue to teach him and encourage him to be good. Just because he’s the older sibling now doesn’t mean he’s supposed to grow up over night. If you get frustrated and take your anger out on your toddler remember that it’s misplaced. You decided that you were ready to add on to the family, the toddler had no say in it. =)
Transitioning to two children is no walk in the park, but it’s also the most rewarding feeling knowing that your family is growing! I most certainly will cherish this time!