My Pregnancy: Week 36

Week 36We’re nearing go-time. What was once abstract in our mind—a baby on the way—becomes more real every single day. Our two-year-old lives in the nebulous, aware that baby is coming but not significantly understanding how his life is about to change. Our four-year-old shows far greater awareness, interest, and understanding about the baby situation. We introduced baby toward the end of the first trimester. We’ve continued talking about my growing belly; going to the doctor and hearing the heartbeat has proven particularly significant and concrete for him.

In the last few weeks we’ve gotten close enough to birth to integrate a variety of tools to understand baby sister’s quickly approaching arrival. Every kiddo is different, both in how they best understand things and of what developmental capability they are at. We’ve found several tools useful in preparing our children for baby #3.

Books.
Depending on your children’s specific needs you can find books on a wide variety of topics. Our sons needed help understanding why I could not do everything I used to as pregnancy progressed. Our 4-year old was also interested in what baby looks like and how she was developing in my belly. There are stories about becoming a big sibling and bringing a new sibling into the house, giving birth at home, what newborns are like, and how babies are made. If characters are helpful, everyone from Arthur and Daniel Tiger to Olivia, The Berenstain Bears, Little Critters, and others have books on the subject.

Videos.
Among others, Daniel Tiger spends the first few episodes of the second season introducing little sister. You Tube also has a diverse array of clips about babies. One of my favorites includes Big Bird learning about breastfeeding.

Baby photos.
Our sons like to look back on their own baby pictures. They provide opportunities not only to see a baby but also see babies in their development and surroundings. I was able to explain aspects of the hospital by looking at pictures of the first few days of life. I could show how my belly gets bigger, baby eats milk from my breast and that babies sleep a lot and need to be held often simply through our family photos.

Conversation and Integration.
Just talking about the baby and including our children in our conversations about the baby help to make her more real. As we bought clothing, set up baby’s things, and packed my hospital bag, we presented the baby as part of our family long before she ever arrived. We pulled our swing out so our sons can practice being gentle as they pushed our Hulk, who stands in as proxy until baby arrives.

Doctor appointments.
Certainly, bringing my children to appointments did not make the visit go more smoothly. It was a challenge worth the effort because our four-year-old was especially moved by hearing the heartbeat each visit. Every visit I also made sure to see if he had any questions for the doctor about the baby. Our doctor humored this and built relationships with all of us.

Notice babies.
They are all around us. Point out babies, newborns, and pregnant women to your children and liken them to your experience. This brings a sense of normalcy to childbirth, seeing that our baby is special but at the same time babies are just a part of life.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four. She enjoys the finer things in life, like compression socks and a full night’s rest.

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