It seems like yesterday 605 Magazine’s Publisher and Founder Alana Snyder was asking me if I wanted to write the family column, seeing as I had just returned from maternity leave with Sloan.
It was a no-brainer, but as soon as I said yes, I was paralyzed with fear that I was unqualified to write about parenting, kids, and the transition into motherhood.
I was a fraud.
Sloan was only a couple of months old, no one was sleeping, and I felt like I was failing in all aspects of the word. Shouldn’t someone with a designer diaper bag and a degree in swaddling be in charge of this?
All of these doubts were quieted when I realized that everyone starts from the same place—buried in a mountain of dirty diapers and parenting handbooks, attempting to navigate the storm that is a newborn.
Fast-forward two years and a lot of parenting fails later, and we’re ready for round two.
Just shy of 20 weeks, Reid, Sloan, and I are gearing up for baby number two at the end of March. With half of this pregnancy under our belts, we have gotten through the morning sickness and the initial fear of being pregnant during a pandemic.
All of these hurdles seem easy in comparison to our next challenge: preparing our head-strong toddler for another tiny human to enter our family.
Being an only child, my first concern was that she was going to feel replaced and have this unresolvable resentment toward me until the end of time. I know that sounds dramatic, but I have no experience to pull from, so of course I went to the darkest corners of my mom brain.
THE GIFT OF GIVING
While a lot of parents have the new baby give a gift to the older sibling, it is important for the big brother or sister to do the same. This gives them a sense of pride and connection with the baby.
After discussing my fears with Reid, my friends, and honestly anyone that would listen, I was quickly reassured that this was not something that crossed children’s minds, and in fact, I was insane for even considering it.
Once I was convinced Sloan wouldn’t hate me for the rest of eternity, I started doing some research on the “best” ways to introduce Sloan to the new baby. There are just as many techniques and theories about this as there are about potty training and breastfeeding.
Needless to say, it’s a very overwhelming concept.
I want to make sure Sloan feels involved and loved, but I also want to make sure the baby is safe and a priority. Then there is the regression phase that the internet tells me can be as intense as the toddler wanting to go back to bottles and a crib.
And don’t even get me started on the different (and sometimes dangerous) ways jealousy can come out between a toddler and a baby.
So, with a handful of horror stories and my pregnancy hormones in full swing, I’ve decided that I’ll keep the research I’ve found in the back of my head, but that I’ll do what I’ve always done when it came to parenthood.
I’m just going to go with it.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
+ Morning sickness with a toddler is so much worse than without. With that being said, even spending 10 uninterrupted minutes with your little one, whether it be reading in bed or watching Bubble Guppies, keeps them feeling connected and loved.
+ Start introducing your toddler to the idea of a baby from the get go. Showing them ultrasound photos, having them help with the nursery, and picking out toys together are great ways to ease them into the new addition.
+ Every toddler is different. Don’t feel like you need to follow one school of thought for bringing home your new baby if parts don’t make sense for you and your family.
Sloan is defiant and stubborn and, dare I say, a lot like me. She’ll tell us what she likes and doesn’t like, and we’ll go from there. I’m not going to spend the next 20 weeks distraught over the fact that she might hate the baby. I’m also not going to convince myself that any amount of preparation will guarantee an instant bond and connection.
What I’m going to do is give Sloan all of the tools she’ll need to enter into sisterhood, whether it be in the form of books, baby dolls, or a safe space she can retreat to when things are a little too overwhelming for her developing toddler noggin.
There are times she will lay on my stomach and say hi to the baby, and there are also times that the mention of a baby will send her into a tailspin of tears and anger.
And to be honest, same.
For now, we’re handling the emotions and fears of a new baby one day at a time, while continuously learning and teaching about infant care, self- care, and recognizing when both are needed.
Pregnancy is a rollercoaster for anyone, and adding the unpredictable nature of a toddler is an entirely different ballgame.
Be kind and patient with yourself and the rest of your family. Or get a kitten.
We’re doing both. Welcome home, Chewy.