Friends have mentioned feeling guilty or sad about turning their first-born’s life upside down by adding a new baby to the family. I had a fleeting moment of sadness very early on in my pregnancy when I thought about how our little family of 3 would only exist for 2 short years – just a blip in our lives.
But I don’t even remember being an only child myself. My sister came along when I was 3 (so a year older than Caelan will be when his sister arrives) and honestly, I have no memories of before she was born. My first memory at all is a very blurry one of walking in a hospital corridor when going to visit her when she was born.
I thought once my due date got closer, that I may feel some more sadness or apprehension about this, but at the same time, maybe I wouldn’t. Caelan is such a go-with-the-flow kind of kid, maybe this won’t even phase him too much?? Over the past few months Bill and I have been trying to talk up both being a big brother/big boy and talking up baby sister herself. But Caelan has shown no interest in her. He’ll respond “baby sister” if we ask him who is in Mommy’s belly, but he doesn’t ask follow up questions or ask about her independently.
At first we thought, well maybe he’s just too young to really get it. It IS quite an abstract concept – a baby is IN Mommy? And without any evidence around the house (not much baby gear pulled out yet) it’s probably hard for him to really get it. But after talking to his daycare provider about his behavior there towards the babies and taking a closer look at his responses to our conversations about baby sister, we realized something. It’s not that he doesn’t get it. He does get it (on some level), he just doesn’t like it.
Cue that apprehension I thought I might be able to avoid.
It was easier to think that he was oblivious to it all. But the other day I mentioned that baby sister would be here soon and he could show her all of his toys when she arrived. He asked me with such concern “Baby sister not going to take my elephant??” I assured him that no, baby sister would not take his elephant. (Side note: Caelan has recently developed attachments to several stuffed animals, which is new for him.)
We are doing everything we can think of to try to make sure that Caelan doesn’t feel displaced by his sister, but the truth is that he will be displaced. About 2 weeks ago, we kicked him out of his crib and his own bedroom. I didn’t realize what a bittersweet milestone that would be until the night before when I found myself rocking him and laying him down in the crib for the last time. I’d been so focused on the need to get him settled into the new room before the baby’s arrival that I didn’t really think about the significance of moving him out of his old room.
Luckily, that transition has gone amazingly well. He didn’t give his old room so much as a glance until last weekend when he saw me in there getting it ready for baby sister. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to handle this since I don’t want Caelan to refer to the room as his own anymore, but I’m reluctant to start calling it “the baby’s room” because his move to the new room was SO recent.
The next few months are going to be hard on our grown up baby, but hopefully exciting also. I hope that our efforts to provide a plethora of elephants and other distractions will help ease the transition. Baby sister even bought her big brother a gift to give to him when she gets home. (Shopping online before she’s even born – definitely my kid ) I’m not going to be able to escape feeling sad about turning Caelan’s life upside down, but I will focus on what a good big brother he is sure to be once he gets used to having little sister around. Maybe we can play up the “mine” aspect and emphasize that this baby will be Caelan’s. He seems to love when things are mine/no-it’s-mine/no-it’s-Caelan’s