Fun tidbit I heard in an interview with [name_f]Helen[/name_f] Oxenbury is that the biggest is not the father as many assume… he’s a much older brother. So it is a five sibling group going on a bear hunt. Great for explaining age spreads as you can have teenagers and babies in the same family.
My first was 13 months when we were first home-study approved for our infant adoption. We waited 18 additional months but were trying to prepare him that at any time (literally that same day or several years from then) he could become a big sibling. The picture book You Were the First by [name_f]Patricia[/name_f] Maclaughlan did wonders for this. The book focuses on all the special “firsts” that a first child in a home experiences and also how the child teaches the parents to be parents. Nearly all the pages are just about an only child, but at the end there is a spread with the older child looking over the bassinet he used to use “One day there may be a second…” and then the two siblings aged up and looking in the bassinet at a third “or a third to sleep in the basket with the yellow ribbon wound round” and it finishes with the parents tucking the eldest into a big kid bed, “but you will always be the first.” We read that to him ALL the time.
We also tried as best we could to explain how much care and attention little babies take and that sometimes he might feel lonely or jealous. [name_m]Even[/name_m] when he was too small to name those emotions himself. His transition to siblinghood when it finally happened (we had 5 days’ notice) 10 months ago was as smooth as we could have hoped for and has continued to be extremely easy for us.
Now I’m pregnant again with our third. We waited until the last possible moment to tell our oldest (now 3.5) but we did tell him before we told anyone else. I didn’t want to explain miscarriage though we did have to explain a few times when potential adoption matches fell through and that was rough. Quarantine has kept him from blabbing it to everyone but my eldest is genuinely excited for another baby, which honestly surprises me considering how much attention was “taken” from him so recently. But I think the idea of the “or a third” from the book we share has made an impression. We have told him that there won’t be any more little babies after this one (we may adopt an older child/teen eventually, but nothing he needs to concern himself with now as it’s likely a decade away) and I think that is in some ways comforting, to know that the transition will happen one more time but then he will have another playmate. His little brother now is seriously becoming a great playmate for him so I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised how excited he is. I was also still nursing him (I guess I still technically am but he is just asking to “try to see if there is any milk” every few days) until my milk dried up. I have told him that when the baby comes in the summer, there will be LOTS of good tasting milk and that if he wants to share some again (we tandem nursed with my second briefly) he may. He is extremely excited about this prospect so we will see if he still wants to nurse after 6 more months.
My second will only be 15/16 months when number 3 arrives so will have less awareness but we are already trying to explain to him, too. That will just continue. We have other sibling books where the new “big sibling” is actually the middle child so those will be good but they aren’t quite as sweet as the other one I mentioned.
We are starting to ask when they want hugs from me if they would also like to give a special hug and kiss to my belly for the baby. We call the baby (will be team green the whole way) [name_u]Bao[/name_u] and having a special name for them is helpful, I think. [name_f]My[/name_f] eldest talks about [name_u]Bao[/name_u] a lot and all the things he wants to do with the baby. When I lay down with them at night in the kids’ room I have started saying goodnight to each of each of them individually and then saying “and goodnight [name_u]Bao[/name_u].” Then I say I love you to each of them individually and then I say, “and I love you, [name_u]Bao[/name_u]” And my eldest has taken to doing the same of his own volition. Telling his brother and me that he loves us and then saying, “I love you, [name_u]Bao[/name_u].”
It’s also just something silly and special but we previously only had two armchairs in our living room. That was where we would sit to read books with one another in the evenings with a kid each on our laps. But we recently bought a sofa sectional and explained at the time “This one is big enough so that you kids AND [name_u]Bao[/name_u] and mama and papa can all sit together cozy.” And so now my eldest talks about all the books we will read together on the sofa when all of us are here. I’ll have them narrate their favorite books to my belly later on and also hopefully sing to the baby. We picked a special song for each child (that I sang to my eldest from the womb and to my second from the day he came home with us) so I will pick another for the baby but I thought maybe my eldest would want to pick a special song to sing, too. We will see if that is the case or not.
Gist of it is just trying to find all the special ways they can connect during the pregnancy to create some of those warm feelings that will hopefully carry over for both of them when this baby actually arrives…