Preparing Isla to be a big sister

I think the most daunting thing about having baby no2, is worrying about how your first born will react. Isla is at a very unpredictable age as it is, one day she does just as she’s told and then the next she’s absolutely feral, so knowing exactly how she will react to her new life as a big sister is just impossible.

Lots of people ask ‘is she excited?’, ‘does she know what’s happening?’ and if I’m completely honest, I have no idea. We speak a lot about the ‘baby in mummy’s tummy’ and she knows what a baby is and looks like but can she put 2 and 2 together and make 4… I’m not sure. If I was to take a wild guess, I would imagine she sees my bump as an extension of me, and not much else, not a baby beneath the skin and not her brother. Can we even expect a 22 month old to understand the concept of a sibling?

Besides her lack of understanding (completely granted given her age!) we have been trying to get her used to the idea of a baby joining our family by slowly introducing baby related games, books and furniture around the house. We hope that by introducing things over a period of months/weeks, it won’t come as too much of a shock when one day in June a baby suddenly turns up with lots of new belongings and she is made to understand it all amongst sharing her parents and home… all overnight!

So here’s what we have been up too –

We recently brought her a new dolly which came with a pram, blanket, nappy, dummy and bottle. I have been showing her how to touch the dolly gently, change it’s nappy, give it a bottle and cuddle it to sleep which she has loved. It’s a little game we play every single day and she now feeds and cuddles the dolly spontaneously and gives it the odd kiss on the lips! Feeding, cuddling etc are all things she will see us doing with the new baby when he arrives so it’s nice to know she will make sense of what’s going on and can get involved now she knows what to do. If you watch my Instagram stories you would have seen her playing with her dolly!

We also brought her a big sister book with stickers from Amazon which has proved a success – link here. She loves anything with stickers so I knew this would be worthwhile. The book has lovely colourful pictures and explores the idea of mummy going into hospital and also breastfeeding. The stickers are all baby related and since playing with them she’s learnt and understands lots of new words all of which will come in handy when the baby arrives.

About a week ago we decided to get the next-to-me crib out of the loft and set it up in our bedroom. We also got the sleepyhead and the rocking chair out, all of which have been put into place ready for little man. She was instantly intrigued, like I knew she would be, but now she just walks past them like another piece of furniture in the house. We did this on purpose to get her used to them and stop her from fussing with it all too much when he is first home and starting to use it.

Just last week she also helped me to pack my hospital bag. Everything went in and was then taken back out about 15 times before I finally closed the zip on it! Although tedious, it was worth it as she now knows all about the baby’s ‘bum bum cream’, ‘mummy’s booboo cream’ (nipple cream!), baby’s clothes and the baby’s toy. These are all things she will see laying about the house for months to come and I feel the more she understands the better she will cope with all the change and upheaval. It also means she can pass me the correct stuff when I ask for it!

To date, she has also been to all of my midwife checkups with me. She is now used to seeing unfamiliar faces touching mummy which at first she hated and now she is comfortable with. I’m unsure how long I may be in hospital for after having the baby and it’s very likely that she will visit us there so I figured it’s good to get her used to seeing me in that kind of environment and also people in uniform. She knows my midwife really well already (it’s the same lady that delivered her) and so it will be nice to have a familiar face visiting us in the first few weeks instead of someone she doesn’t know coming into her environment, touching her mum and making her baby brother cry when he has to get naked to be weighed.. every newborns nightmare!

I’ve also prepared other little things like a gift from the baby to her and also stocked up her food cupboard with her favourite snacks and treats. The last thing I want is for her to have to go without or feel like she’s being forgotten in the madness of the early days so I’ve tried to be thoughtful in getting bits ready for her too. I’ve also brought her some new shoes, a bag and a few toys which I will hold back and introduce seperately over the coming months when I feel like she needs a little distraction or lift. This is stuff I’ve always spontaneously done regardless but I’m worried I might not have as much time or have the energy to be as prepared once the baby arrives so I’m getting it ready now instead.

It’s her 2nd birthday on 30th June (a mere 10 days after the baby’s due date… not great planning on our behalf!) so I planned her a little party well in advance. We have already brought and wrapped all of her presents and will hopefully, together with her little brother, give her a day of beautiful celebrations all about her!

As I write this, I think to myself have I gone over the top? She’s just two.. she will just fall into line like kids do – her brain is currently in that sponge like development stage where she gets on with whatever is thrown at her and ultimately she will never remember a life without her brother. BUT, in the next breath, I can’t help but worry and want to make it as beautiful of an experience for her, as it is for us.

The bottom line is, she’s my baby, my first born, who up until now I have devoted every single second of every single day too and all of a sudden she’s going to need to take a back seat. My heart breaks just a little bit. I’m sure I’m not the only mum to feel this ache and no doubt it will be completely forgotten the moment he is put into my arms and my love multiples by a trillion but for now this is how we are getting along!

Hope you have enjoyed the read

Lots of love

G

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