From realizing that this was going to be quite a journey, although initially from a point of excitement that I am having more than one baby, simultaneously; to waking up to the reality that this is actually bigger than what I imagined, it has all been nothing short of amazing. Every day brings its own surprises, different feelings and experiences.
But one particular experience broke my heart and I’ll never forget it. I suppose it could have been worse, or better. I don’t know. But it happened.
After a few days of confirming that I was pregnant with twins, obviously I’m still excited in different ways, I had been trying to be careful (or so I thought) about how I would bring my (then almost) nine year old daughter to the knowledge of these two new people. At this point, it was the second thing that kept me awake at night. I knew how my daughter Aka, felt about having siblings. Being the only child to me and enjoying the freedom (among other pleasures) of that state, she had absolutely no interest whatsoever of having a sibling, never mind multiple siblings, at the same time. I remember how she even cried about it at some point when she overheard me talking about getting married in a conversation with a friend. Somehow, to her, that was interpreted as wanting to have, at least, another baby. That, to my little girl’s mind was unacceptable. When I asked her why that was, she said a new baby would take all my attention away from her.
“You would love the baby more than me, spend time with the baby more than me and spend all your money on the baby and not me!” At this point little Miss Madam is sobbing!
I realized at that point that we needed to have a conversation about the subject. But I knew that as well that it would neither be easy nor a one-time-event. It would take some engagement. But the thing was I did not know how. I knew though, that I wanted her to be as about a new baby as I would. Well, maybe being as excited as I would be might be asking for a little too much; but I wanted her to be excited. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on in her imagination but the expression that she had just given me was enough to tell me that my baby wasn’t moving in the direction as I was in my imagination.
I always imagined that when I have another baby, we would all be excited. However, my fears were confirmed when my baby finally asked me if I was pregnant. How she arrived at that is a story for another day. The bottom line is she found out sooner than I had readied myself to tell her, and I knew I has some damage control to do because how she even asked me did not sound pleasant at all. I knew I couldn’t get back-up (I desperately needed it). It was just the two of us. And as the saying goes, now I had to grab the bull by the horn. I gave her a moment to think about the news, as I drew her to me to sit her on my lap. Then I asked her how she felt.
“I’m sad mommy.” There, she had said it and there was no way I could reverse it. It hit me like a big gong and I needed shock absorbers. But I couldn’t possibly imagine how hard it had hit her and the courage to actually say it out loud, that she was sad. I was grateful though that she was honest. She could have said anything else; faked a smile and said she was happy’ I mean she is big enough to do that. But she didn’t. She looked away from me and could barely smile (understandably) and told me under no uncertain terms that she was sad. It flat out broke my heart to hear that, but it couldn’t compare to the realization that I had probably tore hers into million pieces. As she explained to me why she was sad about expecting a new baby I was searching in my mind for at least one way that could help me sway her feelings, at least from being sad to somewhat ‘happy’ in this situation. I then pointed out to her cool part of this story; that we are expecting twins, she would be the only one among her friends with twin siblings (how grand is that) and that we are the first in our (big) family to have twins and most of all-how much fun she would have playing with them and showing them all the cool stuff she does (she loves drawing and animals are her life). Gradually, her lips were stretching to what could resemble a smile and her big white teeth were showing, beautifully. Our conversation went on and on until we were laughing from the imaginations we were sharing about these new little people that we are expecting. Through that though, I emphasized how much I love her and that she was still my baby; and that no other baby in the world would ever change that. She understood and she was happy. We were both happy. I also knew though that that would not be the end of the conversation. And, at the beginning of the following week, after our conversation, my daughter came back home from school and told me how her friends think she’s lucky. I asked why. And she told me it was because she would be having twin siblings soon and they would have wanted that!
From then on, I knew the whole school new I was pregnant!! Lol!!
As the days passed and my belly grew she shared with me what her plans were with and for the twins. I felt such warmth in my heart each time she told me, as I had never imagined. I knew she was coming around, or at least trying to. I’ve also allowed her to let the twins into her life in her own way, how she’s developed a way of bonding with them and still try to get more used to the idea. Plus, the more we talk about it the more I realize she’s falling in love with the babies; to my delight. What I can say is right about now, you can almost touch the excitement over the babies.
My tips to helping the first born overcome their fear of a new baby:
1. Talk about it before it happens
2. Give him or her assurance of your unconditional love
3. Give them the time they need to adjust to the new family addition so they too can make room in their ‘world’ for the new baby or babies.
4. Let them express themselves (encouraging) with respect for themselves, you and the new family member(s)
5. Let them make plans (all plans are subject to change afterall)