When you’re pregnant with your second, it’s already overwhelming that we have to wrap our heads around another person entering the family. Then trying to imagine what that may be like for our first born to imagine is enough to make us die of guilt.
“I’m ruining their life.”
“How will they share me?”
“Will they feel replaced?”
“When do I tell them?”
I have gotten so many questions about it and so I wanted to share how we handled it.
I didn’t tell Tess much until we moved which was when I was really big in terms of a bump. I wanted it to be more tangible and not just something she had to imagine without anything concrete, seemed way to abstract otherwise. This was about two months before Nell was born. We moved apartments, I explained we were moving because our new baby was coming soon and I showed Tess where the baby’s room would be. I pointed to my now large belly that I had only alluded to very few times as being “a baby” and said “this is your baby sister in here!” The following weeks until I gave birth we talked about it openly but not in a way that was overkill.
Some other things I did.
- Watched the Daniel Tiger episode “The Baby is Here” it was a game changer. Tess understood and was excited! Also obsessed with Baby Margaret.
- We read books. She liked this one and this one.
- I got a few gifts for Tess that we planned to give to her after the baby was born as gifts from her “new baby sister.”
- I prepared Tess and told her how Nani and Paula would be with her at home when I went to take out the baby with Daddy.
- I told everyone not to show Tess photos of the baby because I wanted her to be with us when she fully absorbed and was told that her baby sister was here.
We had Tess come to the hospital the same day Nell was born. I didn’t want Tess to spend too much time apart from us and what was happening and felt that may build up more anxiety around it. I was also up for the visit which is the most important part (wait until you can handle it, this may be a few days later or may be the very day you give birth).
- I asked that it just be Matt and I there when Tess came. We had Nell in the nursery. The last thing I wanted was for Tess to feel like she was “late to the party.”
- When Tess came, I had her put onto the bed with me, I showed her my belly and said that her baby sister was out. I then took out a gift, Baby Margaret, and said “she got this for you!”
- When she was ready to move on from the gift, I asked her “do you want Baby Nell to come in now? Or do you want to go get her with Daddy?” (I couldn’t offer to go with her because I had a c section and couldn’t walk yet and didn’t want Tess to see me in a wheelchair.)
- Tess said she wanted to stay with me and wanted Baby Nellie to come in. We called the nurses and asked them to bring baby Nellie.
The moments after that were the best moments of my entire life. To see my first child embrace my second in a way that was so loving was really a glimpse of love, I swear I think Tess saw her and felt love. I’ll never ever forget it. She then tried to smack her head a few minutes after.