Welcome Baby # 2Ann E. Butenas
I recall when my first son was just 8 months old, I found out I was pregnant with my second child. That was quite a shock. My head did all the calculating: "When Alec is 17 1/2 months old, this child will be born." I felt so overwhelmed by the account, that I did not even realize how introducing a second child into the home would affect the first-born.
The pregnancy proceeded without many problems, and therefore I was able to get things in order. I set up the nursery again, got a "big boy" bedroom ready for Alec, and commenced to explain to him the reason he was moving on to bigger things. He would pat my stomach every now and then, but never really showed much interest in the coming attraction. I decided because he was so young that bringing this next child home would not be so tough after all. To Alec, bringing this new baby home would most likely equate with bringing a new toy home. Although Alec did not talk at this age, he was quite inquisitive. I am sure he would turn the baby over and see where the batteries went.
Much to my surprise, when we brought Zachary home from the hospital, Alec was very excited. He had someone—rather someTHING—.new to play with. Despite my nervous appeals to keep him from becoming too rough with Zachary, Alec still poked, prodded, and basically attempted to get this little person engaged in some fun activities with him.
Alec soon became accustomed to this tiny creature crying and begging for Mommy's constant attention. For the first six months or so, Alec just remained like an only child, coming in to check on Zachary every now and again, but, fortunately for me, he mainly entertained himself.
As fate would have it, once Zachary turned one, I found out once again that I was—GASP!—pregnant! This was truly unexpected and wreaked havoc on my emotional state. I was tired. I was over-worked. My hormones were so out of whack from pregnancy and nursing. I thought there was no way I could deal with this big event. Alec was now 2 1/2 and had a seemingly better understanding that something was going on as he saw my girth expand on what appeared to be a daily basis.
Things began to change once again in the household. More "big boy" furniture was purchased to accommodate Zachary and to make room for Number Three. I told Alec that he and Zachary would be sharing a room. I took delight in decorating it in the typical boy mode: Sports and Mickey Mouse. I even put a slide in there! They had a blast. These two had quickly become best buddies, and now I was about to introduce a potential third wheel.
During this third pregnancy, I took the opportunity to explain to Alec and Zachary that they would be getting another sibling in the house. In actuality, I realized this would be a true test for Alec. Bearing in mind that he was too young to fully comprehend the significance of a new baby when Zachary came along, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to see just how he would react to such a change of events. I told him the importance of being a big brother and all the new "responsibilities" it demanded. I started "training" Alec for this event with Zach as the "test bunny." When changing Zach's diapers, for instance, I would intentionally forget to have wipes on hand and would ask Alec to please go get some for Mommy. Alec LOVED being a helper. If Zachary needed a drink from a bottle or sippy cup, and if Mommy was busy, she would ask if Alec would help give Zachary his bottle. Alec really enjoyed this job! However, I knew my requests of Alec and my repeated attempts to make him feel like a big brother had gone to far when Alec started to pull the vacuum from the hall closet one morning, plug it in (yes, he could remove those outlet covers by then!) and proceed to sweep the living room!
The day for the newest brother to arrive had come. Noah made his entrance quickly and heartily. Within a few hours of his birth, Alec and Zachary came to the hospital to meet their new little brother. They loved him instantly. The transition back home was very easy. There was relatively little jealousy. Alec and Zach's bond seemed to grow tighter, and Noah fit right in.
I truly believe that the adjustment to having two little brothers, one after the other, was a smooth and easy task for Alec because he was part of the process. I "primed" him for "big brotherhood." I took him to some doctor appointments with me when I was pregnant. I showed him pictures of babies. I told him how big he was getting and how helpful he would be to me. He gained some training ground with Zachary and was a veteran by the time Noah arrived. Alec gained so much confidence in himself during this time period. He loved the challenges associated with his new role in the family. He often tests that role by repeatedly reminding his brothers, who are now 4 and 2 years of age, that he "gets to do everything first," and that he will tell him what growing up is all about once he does it. "I get to go to Kindergarten first and do everything first. When it is time for you guys to do this," he explains to them, "just let me know what you need, and I will help you out." Funny, I now hear Zach doing this with Noah. As Alec left for Kindergarten the other day, Zach walked Noah down to the playroom and I overheard him say to Noah, "I'm the boss now, puppy, so you better listen to me until Alec gets back." To which Noah easily responded, "Okay."
Despite the easy transition of one baby to two babies and then to three, I think I will quit while I am ahead!
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