When bringing home your second baby worrying about the way your first born is going to handle the transition is a very valid concern. Trying to figure out how life with two is going to look makes the top three list of worries for a new mom of two. Am I go to love them as much as my first? Am I going to be able to balance this life with two babies? Is my firstborn going to fall into this role of big sibling naturally or are they going to struggle with extreme jealousy? It's natural that a mom is going to worry that much about one of the most important little beings in her life.
Obviously the biggest transition when having your second baby is the day you bring that baby home. Depending on the age of your first born, it can be a very big surprise to have mommy and daddy come home with this new little one who demands a lot of their attention. It can be a transition that causes a lot of uncertainty and confusion in your now big sibling.
When we brought my baby girl home, my son was 21 months old. I had no idea how he was going to respond. When I expressed my concerns before having Elyse I was always told, "Oh! He's going to love her!" So many people told me that Jase was going to do just great and it really set me up for false expectations. I am not entirely sure what I expected to happen, but I wasn't prepared for what did happen.
I have talked to a handful of mothers who brought their second baby home when their first born was between the ages of two and three to see how their transitions truly went. I have come to realize there are usually three ways it can go, and because I felt drastically unprepared for this transition, I wanted to share with you.
The first way big sibling may tend to react is with complete disinterest. This is how Jase responded. Jase wanted nothing to do with Elyse. In turn that meant he wanted nothing to do with me. I brought this baby into the house. Every time she cried, it was me who had to soothe her by feeding her or whatever else it might be. This little baby was attached to me and Jase wasn't sure about her at all, so he kept his distance. Jase immediately, like flip of the switch immediately, became a total daddy's boy. He stuck to his daddy like glue and observed his sister from a distance. When she cried he looked at her. When she slept he looked at her. He didn't care to touch her. He didn't care to have her touch him. He didn't care to hold her. He was perfectly fine having nothing to do with her.
For a couple weeks this broke my heart. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I thought he hated her. Wasn't he supposed to love and adore her? Wasn't he supposed to want to be all over her, holding her and smothering her? Wasn't he supposed to be excited? I would get glimpses of hope as people would drop off meals and he would run next to her pointing in excitement, "Look! Sissy!" But then she would get to close to him and he would flip out. He wouldn't let me hold him for a couple days and it broke me. I thought he was mad at me. He didn't seem jealous of her, he just didn't want to be around her. But in my postpartum emotional state, I thought he was going to hate her forever. But in reality he just wasn't sure about her. He needed to take time to get used to her, to warm up to her. After a couple weeks he didn't have to have a distance from her, but he still didn't pay much attention to her. He acknowledged her every morning and every time she woke up from naps, but outside of that he just didn't really care to pay much attention to her.
Another way big sibling tends to respond is smothering. This is like having a second parent around who thinks they know what's best for your baby. Shoving the pacifier in their mouth, covering them in blankets, sharing their cheerios, and much more. This reaction usually puts mom on what I have come to call 24/7 homicide watch because big sibling likes to be a big helper! They want to hold the baby, and pick up the baby, and rock the baby, and feed the baby, and do everything that you do with the baby. Your little helpers. But even this can be quite stressful on mama when you feel like you can't leave the toddler alone with the baby for even one second.
And the last reaction that tends to happen is jealousy. This one can play out a lot like the first one, but could be very demanding of mom and dad's attention. This is where big sibling might try to push the baby right off your lap so they can sit there instead! They used to be the only one mom and dad had to worry about, and now there is someone taking all their attention. Of course it makes sense to have a little jealousy in there!
Bringing home your second baby is a big transition for everyone. It takes time for you to learn to juggle two, it takes time for you to heal, and it takes time for your first baby to get used to having a new baby around.
So the biggest thing to remember in bringing home your second baby is it takes time. Your first baby will absolutely adore your second baby, but it might not happen right away. They may want nothing to do with them. They may want to smother them. They may be extremely jealous of them. Over time you will see more and more of the beauty that their relationship will blossom into, but it won't always happen over night. Sometimes it's something that grows as the days pass, and that's okay. You can go in being prepared for it to go either way and know that when adjusting to having a little sibling anything can be considered normal. It won't be that way forever. Soon you'll be sitting back watching them play together and those first few days will only be a memory.
What was it like when you brought your second baby home? If you're getting ready to, what are your biggest concerns?