Nothing can prepare you for the arrival of your first born, and nothing can prepare your first born for the arrival of their sibling!
I’m sure you and William have done everything you can to ready Prince George for baby number two. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been reading books called things like ‘whats in mummy’s tummy’ at bedtime, letting George kiss and talk to your bump and helping him feel involved by encouraging him to help choose clothes for the baby and nik-naks for the nursery.
Just as our precious first born was not yet two when we discovered we were expecting again, Prince George is a similar age and like my eldest, I am sure he is also king of the castle. My son ruled our roost and was master of all he surveyed.
Doted on by parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles alike he was rocked and sung to sleep, that was only after his regular baby yoga followed by baby massage sessions.
We spent hour upon hour singing row row row your boat to him, just so he could “scream” on cue and then dissolve into fits of giggles. Let’s not forget the trips to the zoo, petting farm, parks and doctor at the first sign of an ailment. His every imagined wish was our command.
We would spend hours discussing our precious ones every development and looking back at photos and videos only just taken.
The experience with your first born is absolutely unique and the time so precious. It’s only when the next one arrives that it really sinks in that you will never have the same level of relative calm or one-on-one time with either of your little ones again.
He was the apple of our proverbial eye and could do no wrong. I certainly never scolded him or raised my voice to him – quite simply because he was such a good boy! Our only worry on discovering I was expecting again, was how would he react to the newborn’s arrival?
In an attempt to prepare him, we sought advice from friends and family who had been through a similar experience. We bought books and spent hours on online forums looking at what other parents were doing in the same situation. As my bump grew, we tried explaining what was in there and how he would soon have a new best friend to play with. Truth be told it’s unlikely he had a clue what we were talking about. But at least we felt like we were doing “the right” thing.
And so D-day finally arrived. My waters broke as I was struggling to put him to bed. He usually went down a dream. But this night it was like he had a sixth sense – as if he knew his life was about to change forever.
He would not let me leave the room. He screamed and cried and sobbed for me to stay. It was heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Especially because I knew next time I saw him I would be holding his brother or sister. He would no longer be the only baby in my life.
Arriving at the hospital I told the nurses I was in a hurry – I didn’t want to be away from our son who was waiting at home with his grandparents for too long.
Fortunately it was a quick and straight forward birth and by the next morning our beautiful new baby boy was lying next to me dozing. Like many parents we’d made sure the new baby did not arrive empty handed – miraculously he knew just what his big brother wanted most in the world.
So packed in my hospital bag alongside the baby clothes, nappies and cotton wool was a walking talking Fireman Sam. The gift we hoped would mark the start of a harmonious lifetime bond. Now I look back and laugh at how delusional we were ….believing bribery would suffice in distracting him from the earth-shattering event that would change his life forever.
As our eldest arrived at the hospital with his grandparents just 4 hours after the birth and bounded excitedly into the room, my hubby gave me a reassuring look, as if to say ‘all that prep must have worked.’
We handed him his “present from the baby” – he took one look at it, threw it on the floor and glaring at his brother accusingly shrieked at the top of his lungs “my mummy not your mummy! Then as he spotted the baby was attached to my breast, he loudly demanded that he wanted a go! Seeing the shocked look on my face as he came at me baring his full set of gnashers – he retorted “not on that one… on the other one!”
This was not going to plan. We turned to the tried and tested tactic of letting him hold his new brother. Admittedly with lots of cushions surrounding him, and grown up arms at the ready just in case! Our first picture of the two boys together was gorgeous but was just a brief pause in what was to become a relentless onslaught of jealousy from his brother.
When we returned home, it quickly became apparent sharing his Mummy and Daddy was NOT in his view – an option. Over the next few weeks we were hit with “baby sleep outside”! and “when are you giving the baby back?”
The guilt! What had we done? Had we ruined his life? How would he cope without having our undivided attention?
Thinking about it logically – can you imagine Kate how you would feel if William came home with another wife saying darling I love you very much but I’m bringing another woman home to live here as well – she will share all your things and borrow your clothes….I won’t be able to pay as much attention to you for a while…..but it doesn’t mean I love you any less.
That, in time, was how I came to believe that my first born saw it. We as parents know that a new baby does not mean love is halved (even if it does have an impact on quality together time available), and we know that there is more than enough love for each child and indeed that each child brings its own love and somehow one’s capacity for love grows with the arrival of each baby. But that is not how it seems to a child.
They literally look at it in halves and quarters. For my eldest, his brother’s arrival must have seemed to mark less love for him.
Like you Kate I decided to get some help at home when baby number two came – the exhaustion the first time around was just too much to cope with a second time. My advice is to use that help – as I did, to spend more time with George. Make sure he feels included and loved.
I even allowed our little one to help pick out clothes for his brother and dip the cotton wool in water when I changed his brother’s nappy. I also really tried to have some one on one time together – going for walks and to the park in between feeds and when I had the help. I’m not saying all of this worked but it made me feel less guilty!
I wish I could say that four years on we live in perfect “Walton family” harmony and everything is perfect, but I do sometimes feel my eldest still carries with him the wound of the his sibling’s arrival.
There is still an intense rivalry as they vie for attention and our first born attempts to defend his authority and what he sees as his birthright to be the first and the best! But I know that deep, deep down they do in fact love and care for one another – and I hope as they grow they really will be the best of friends.
Kate – even thought there may be a “period of adjustment” as George gets used to his new brother/sister, you know you wouldn’t have it any other way. George will soon appreciate, at least until number two can talk, his sibling as the perfect fall guy for any unseen breakages or spillages. Somehow a new addition makes you feel even more of a family and more complete. Another child brings more than double the fun, laughter, joy and love….and at least three times the noise.