We adopted first, and then we had a birth child. It was terrifying, selfish, and worked out surprisingly well.
Eldest really loved having a tiny baby to patronise. Middly enjoyed helping the baby learn to lift its head. All three of our boys are wonderful children and, barring the odd complication, get on well.
Now, we’re doing it again. I’m pregnant for the second time and we’re hoping to have another birth child.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened last time and how it worked. Introducing a new sibling is always a bit worrying. I think adoption makes that extra complicated. So, I’ve been mulling a lot over what went well, and what I want to do differently this time around.
Preparing for the new baby.
- Making the announcement – this is generally a very positive time. Most family and friends are excited and pleased to hear about a pregnancy. So, we let the boys be the ones to share the news. It helped them feel a sense of ownership of the process. We’ll definitely be doing that again. We told the boys before we told any else (except for doctors), because it’s really important for us not to keep things from them. This time around, I’ve been sick quite a lot, and we ended up telling the boys very early on, as they were beginning to worry. That’s meant we have been keeping it between the five of us for a while. On the whole, I think that’s been rather nice. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if one of the boys let it slip earlier than planned, though.
- Name choosing – we really wanted the boys to feel involved in this. So we discussed possible names and the boys enjoyed checking for unfortunate nicknames or initials! To be honest, they’re enjoying making terrible suggestions of inappropriate names even more, but it’s been a fun thing to share.
- Toys for the baby – babies don’t really need toys (in my opinion). We didn’t buy any for Youngest, but we did encourage the big boys to buy him one each. So, we bought all the boring stuff, and they got to provide the fun.
- Gifts for the big boys – the new baby brought his big brothers a present each, that went down well. They’re already making suggestions for what the new baby should bring them.
- The photo – I took a photo of the big boys with me when I went to give birth, so that the baby could see them as soon as possible. When they came to see him, the photo was in his cot with him. I think that they appreciated the proof that they were on my mind the whole time.
- Eldest’s experiment – we read some books together while waiting for Youngest to be born. Eldest discovered that newborn babies can imitate facial expressions from birth. He wanted to see if the baby could stick its tongue out in response to him. So, the last line of my birth plan stated that nobody was to stick their tongues out at the baby until Eldest had done so.
After the baby came home
- Getting back into routine – our routines are really important to us. Naturally, we tried to get back into our usual routine as soon as possible. I think we were a little too rushed last time, though. I got very tired. I wish I’d got my husband to do the school run solo for the first few days after giving birth.
- Telling the baby to wait – I made a point of saying aloud ‘hang on, Baby, I’ll just finish doing this for your brothers first’. It was important that I explicitly put them first sometimes. I think that they needed to hear me doing that.
- Comparing childhoods – watching the baby grow brought up a lot of questions about the older boys’ own stories. It has been helpful at times to use the baby like a visual aid. When you’re actually looking at a tiny helpless baby, it’s easier to see how whatever happens to a baby can’t possibly be its fault. As Youngest reached key ages when things had happened in the older boys’ lives, it opened up opportunities to talk about their stories in a different way.
Youngest has been a wonderful addition to our family and I am very grateful for all my boys. I can only hope that the new baby will fit in equally well.