June 9, 2009

Help Pave the Way

On my third time through this, I am tempted to slack off on this, especially since it feels like we just went through this. However, things went so smoothly last time, I think it would be foolish to leave the kids out of this wonderful process. I probably went a little overboard last time, but things went really well. (I have to admit, I do cheat a little bit. Both of my children love babies. Even so, loving babies and wanting to share your mommy and your house with a screaming little person can be two different things.) Here are things that we did that I thought were really helpful, a few that were less helpful, and one that is not for everyone.

  • We have included our kids right from the beginning. In fact, they knew about Lucy before Gabe did. I let them help me decorate his car when we told him, then the three of us hid around the corner and called to ask him to get something from his car. But we start talking right away about how the baby is growing in mommy's tummy. When the baby gets big enough, the baby will come out, but not until the baby is ready. Emily and Joe loved to sit next to my baby belly and talk to Lucy and give her kisses. And yes, they payed very close attention when Gabe showed them how to blow raspberries, too.
  • Get a baby doll. Lucy is still pretty young. I had not really thought about it. Plus, her big sister has probably 4 dolls? Thankfully, Grandma is looking out for her, and sent a little soft, baby doll in the mail. I have read a lot of moms recommending this for when the baby comes. She can change her baby while mommy changes the new baby, she can rock her baby, feed her baby, and so on. (Yes, be prepared for all of your babies and stuffed animals to start nursing if you nurse. :) Emily nursed from her belly button for the longest time-so cute!) But even now, I can start to get Lucy prepared. I show her the sign for baby, and I rock her baby. Then I help her rock the baby. And she smiles. And snuggles the baby. Then she throws it across the room. But we are getting there. It is a starting point for her, since she does not have any clue what is going on.
  • I will do a separate post on books, but showing kids pictures of what the baby looks like now, helps them to feel like part of the process even before mommy's tummy is looking big. The pregnancy books that specify what is growing this week and how big baby is are wonderful!
  • I let my kids watch children friendly birth videos. Yes. I really did. And when I say kids, I mean my almost 3 year old and my 20 month old. I really believe in preparing them. And when I asked them if they wanted to see the baby come out, they said yes. So preparation, here we come. The first time through one, I looked over at them and their eyes were about as big as they could get and they looked stunned. At first I thought, oops. I made a big error here. Then I started talking them through it: "It is hard work to get the baby out." "Some mommies make funny sounds when they are working hard." "Some mommies look grumpy when they are getting the baby out." I worked hard at just presenting it as a natural, normal thing. (And the videos we showed were postive ones!!!) We talked about how babies like to nurse when the come out, and it helps the mommy. By the second and third birth, the kids were getting excited as the baby heads crowned and would shout "here comes the baby!" and Emily would comment "he wants mommy milk." They were totally into it. It was really sweet. And completely comfortable with it. Obviously, this is probably not something for everyone. This would be too much for some kids. Others would love to be a part of the birth.
  • I let the kids pick out a present for the new baby, and baby got them LITTLE gifts too, but honestly, they were so absorbed in the baby, they really did not care about the toys.
  • TALK. TALK. TALK. Every opportunity that pops up, talk about what a new baby is like. A new baby eats mommy milk a LOT. It takes hard work to get the baby out, and mommy will need a few days to recover from that hard work. A baby only drinks mommy milk until the baby gets older (NEVER give the baby food without asking.) A baby needs lots of sleep. A baby needs lots of diaper changes. And so on. You know what this will be like. They may or may not. Let them know, let them be part of it. :) It goes without saying, be positive.

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