DEAN & HUNTER
With my first pregnancy, people’s comments about the experience and the joys of being a first time mom were pleasant, joyful, and even exciting at times! Of course there were always the few rare, overly honest people who would divulge way too much of their own personal stories (never good ones), and send me into mini panics. Once the due date came closer, I started hearing “try to get some sleep before the little bundle comes home!” and “make sure you get the epidural and you’ll be fine!” Not the most calming advice to hear right before giving birth for the first time!
The second time around the comments were more like personal testimonials on how to survive life with two or more kids. How it's more than likely that my older son will act out and throw tantrums over the arrival of the new baby. Mostly I was told not to forget to tape photos of Dean on the hospital bassinet, to have gifts for the two to exchange at their first meeting, and most importantly not to be holding the baby when Dean comes to visit at the hospital! I basically heard: abide by these rules or crash and burn otherwise!
While pregnant with Hunter, I made a conscious effort to include Dean in on all of the changes my body and I would be going through, and the changes we would make as a family. As “the bump” grew I would explain to Dean how big the baby was in comparison to a fruit or vegetable, thanks to modern pregnancy apps I know my stuff. In the mornings when I would get Dean out of bed, we included “the bump” in our morning ritual by having Dean wish my belly a “good morning!”, and at night he would kiss my belly and say, “good night baby”. When it came time to turn our office/(space mommy would hoard in) into a nursery, we explained to Dean that his rocker would be moving into the baby’s room as well. In its place we got Dean what we told him was a “Big Brother Chair” only for the best older brothers! He didn't miss the rocker one bit, in fact he helped the furniture delivery guys move it out of his room and into the nursery. A couple weeks before my due date, I took the advice of a fellow mom that seemed knowledgable on the topic of “introducing the new baby to your older child”, and purchased a boy baby doll equipped with a blue stroller. Dean loved the baby doll. He took him for strolls down the street and even slept with him. He also threw him out of the bed in the mornings, hit his head against the wall, and wrote on him with a blue permanent marker. I still can't tell if that last attempt was a hit or a miss? Overall I felt Dean grasped the idea of having a sibling, and what that would mean for him.
The day finally came, October 12th 2016, when our little Hunter was born. Dean’s visit to the hospital was delayed until the day baby and I were coming home due to a little sniffle he had picked up, probably at preschool. I thought I was so prepared, I stuck the pictures in the bassinet, I had a gift for each (at least I thought I did) and under no circumstances was I going to hold the baby when Dean came in with my husband, Rod. In reality my phone was on silent when Rod was calling to warn me they were on their way up. This was so I could prepare and have Hunter in the bassinet, hands free to embrace Dean when he walked through the door. Instead there I was, holding the baby with the gifts no where to be found! All I could think was, at least I had the pictures up!
In the days and weeks to follow I've tried my hardest to continue to give Dean the same amount of attention as before the baby’s arrival. I’ve also been involving Dean as much as possible with the daily tasks of taking care of his baby brother. Hopefully in doing so, I am reassuring him that he is a very important part of our family, just like the baby. So far things have been going somewhat smoothly with the boys, some days more than others. I'm sure the future will bring interesting and trying moments on us as parents and as a family, but for now I'm enjoying the brotherly love between my two boys.