It’s now been 10 days since our second son was born.
The last week has not gone exactly as I envisioned it, despite 7 months of preparation.
However, there were two things I didn’t see coming.
1. The agony of establishing breastfeeding
Between getting a good latch, burping and pooping, it takes an hour to get a good 15 minutes of breastfeeding into the new baby. Add painfully engorged boobs and raging new mom hormones to the mix, and it’s not a pretty sight.
My wiggly toddler usually picks those times to burst into the room and want to play and touch the baby. I was not prepared with an extra store of patience for this.
2. Our months of preparing our first son for the arrival of his little brother may have created another problem
Most advice focuses on helping avoid feelings of jealousy when the toddler sees mom holding and paying attention to the new baby. So we had carefully considered every word we uttered to him, making sure he wouldn’t view my lack of mobility and energy while pregnant and then devotion to the new little brother as subtracting from our love for our first son.
We created a wonderful box full of presents for our toddler son from his newborn brother. We built a collection of books for him about welcoming a new brother. We referred to the baby mostly in terms that would help him feel a sense of responsibility and family, such as “your little brother”.
Here’s how it all played out when they met
While I was in the hospital waiting for labor to begin, Daddy brought him to see me. We cuddled for a while, and said he missed me and that I smelled good. We’d never spent a night apart before that night.
But after the baby was born, the dynamics of our relationship changed immediately. When Daddy brought him to see me and the baby, he said, “Not mommy, just little brother.” He dashed into the room yelling, “Where’s my baby?” As he peered into the hospital bassinet, his expression was soft and full of wonder.
The nurses had to take our newborn for some tests soon after. After they wheeled the bassinet out of the room, he became frantic. “Where’s the baby?” he screamed, crying.
He’s three years old, so he can understand our explanations, but it was clear he was as emotional about his little brother as his mother was!
Toddler and baby at home
Now back at the house, his first thought upon waking is to see his little brother. The times we’ve told him to be careful and watch his movements (I never realized how wiggly he was until I saw him next to our little 5 lb baby!) he became distraught at the idea that he wasn’t being careful enough.
He was really trying to take care of his little brother how he thought best.
At the first checkup for our newborn, the pediatrician suggested making our toddler in charge of the baby’s feet. That way, his attention is distracted from the more fragile head and face. And while it sounded good, but the baby is usually swaddled or his feet just aren’t accessible.
I let him hold his little brother on the bed a few times throughout the day. He doesn’t want to give him up when it’s time. He wants to touch his hair, his ears, his nose, fingers, everything. He kisses his head repeatedly, leaving little slobbery marks of love.
We also tried to set times when Mommy would spend one-on-one time with our toddler son. But he seemed happier to lie down with Mommy next to the baby’s Snuggle Nest.
A new chapter is beginning
Now, I’ve started to notice my older son needs my attention at just the moment he sees I’m changing the baby. He wants to go potty just as I’ve got his brother’s diaper off. Or he wants me to play with his cars as I’m getting ready to feed the baby.
If he can’t have the baby, I guess he doesn’t want me to, either.
But I’m onto him. I figure it’s all going to be okay however it evolves.
And once again we find ourselves just going with the flow, all parenting preparation out the window.