I wrote this when I was pregnant with Eilys… I will add an update at the end.
I think most mothers worry about how they will cope when adding a new baby to the family. It’s a huge change, going from dealing with 1 little human to juggling 2 but it’s an even bigger change for the first little human; going from being the centre of their parents universe to sharing the limelight with a new brother or sister. Here’s the tale of how we helped Dylan move from only child to awesome big brother.
When I found out that we were expect baby number 2 Dylan was 19months old and I pretty much started to worry about how he’d take to being a big brother as soon as the line went blue. There is a lot of information out there as about how you should prepare a your first for the arrival of your second and people are always willing to give advice too.
Me and the Mr decided that we’d wait until people knew we were having a baby and until I had started to get a bump before we really told Dylan what was happening. I would say to him that Mummy has a baby in her tummy and when the baby was kicking I’d ask if he wanted to feel. Most of the time he’d say no but he said no to most questions!
Around 16 weeks into the pregnancy I bought Dylan a baby doll and a pushchair. It was love at first sight. D named his baby “baby Bob” and he loved him. He would wrap him in blankets, push him around in the pushchair, change his nappy (which resulted in me buying some doll nappies) and feed him his bottle. He was instantly very kind and loving towards Bob although the same cannot be said for me… Dylan took Bob into the garden and Bob got very dirty so I popped him into the washing machine. The look on Dylan’s face was hilarious, the poor kid was very confused. Oops. Don’t worry, we’ve had the chat about babies not going in the washing machine!
Dylan came with me to all of my midwife appointments and for the most part he was more interested in going through the poor woman’s drawers (which were usually filled with staplers, pins and food!). He would show a bit more interest in the baby’s heartbeat but only as the beat for his funky moves to rock out to. We took Dylan to the first scan with us but none of the others as he was such a nightmare!! I am not sure that Joe got to even glance at the screen as D played with the ultrasound machine, pressed buttons, opened drawers and turned on taps. We did show him all the scan photos and he would say “baby” when he was looking at them.
Midway through my pregnancy he started to be quite adorable about my bump. D would often cover my bump with a blanket and say “sleep baby” or “baby cold” which would of course make me all teary. I then started to worry that D wouldn’t understand that the bump would become a baby so we started to show him photos of babies and of him as a baby and try to explain that there would soon be a baby brother or sister. To be honest, I don’t think he fully understood what was going to happen.
It was around this time that some of my Mummy friends started to give birth to their second babies. For one of them, the transition was a smooth one. Their little chap loved his new little sister but on occasion he had thrown toys at her or had got really upset when she needed Mummy to feed her. The other Mummy had an absolute nightmare! Her little chap didn’t take to having a new little chap in the house at all well. He needed to be closely watched at all times as he’d thrown toys, hit, tried to bite and kick the baby and had even pushed his moses basket over. The panic set in!! I had no idea how I would be able to cope if D tried to hurt the new baby?! My mind was put at ease while we were at a toddler group with that Mummy and her little guys. Dylan was having a nosey at the baby (who was about 3 weeks old at the time) when his brother came over and tried to thump the baby. Dylan actually stood between them and shouted “No. Not baby” and wouldn’t move out the way. I was stunned!
One thing that people said time and time again to me was to get a present from the new baby to Dylan. So I bought D some new colouring books, pens, bubble mixture, playdough, some toys, a couple of Thomas the Tank DVDs and a windmill. We also had a few gifts for Dylan prepped just in case he got jealous when the new baby got presents. About 5 weeks before my due date we took Dylan to a toy shop and asked him to choose a jellycat teddy to give to the new baby. He chose a monkey and we named him Pop. In the weeks leading up to my due date we continued to talk about the arrival of the new baby which Dylan insisted was going to be called “Baby Bob” haha.
I was induced at 38 weeks and Dylan spent 2 lovely days with his Granerie (who he calls “Mmmom” we think because he is copying Joe calling her Mum, so cute!). I was so excited and nervous to introduce Dylan to our new baby, Eilys. One of my friends had said that it was really important that I wasn’t holding Eilys the first time Dylan met her. As it turns out, Eilys was in her moses basket and me and Joe were in bed when Dylan burst into our bedroom the morning after she was born. All he wanted was a cuddle with his Mummy who he hadn’t seen for 2 days. We then went over the the moses basket to let him meet his baby sister. I will never forget the look on his face. Awe, love, bewilderment and confusion with a hint of pride. It was a beautiful moment.
Dyl has taken to being a big brother so well. He is really gentle with Eilys and he obviously really loves her. The feeling a most definitely mutual, he was the only person who could make her smile to start with and her eyes light up when he gives her cuddles. We have only had a couple of occasions where he has been a bit rough with her. From day 1 he has wanted to give her cuddles and kisses. I am really enjoying seeing the bond between them grow, it really is a beautiful thing to witness.
Fast forward to now… Pregnant with baby 3… Here is how we are prepping Dylan for big brother duty this time…
With Dylan being a bit older and, dare I say it, wiser this time round he is a more into me having a baby this time round. We told him that we were having a baby as soon as we knew that the CVS results were all clear of SMA Type 1 and he was very excited, especially finding out that he was going to have a little brother (although, he really did want another sister). Then the questions started. The painful questions that I knew would be coming. “When will this baby die Mummy?”… “Why won’t this baby die like Eilys did Mummy?”… “Do all babies die like Eilys did Mummy?”… “Can we call this baby Eilys Mummy?” It was gut-wrenchingly, heartbreakingly painful to hear that these were the first things that popped into his head. It physically pains me that he presumes that all babies die. I answered his questions like I answer all his questions, as honestly as I can. Most of the time it opens the box for more questions but that is fine. I would rather he asked than just worried about things on his own. Dylan has a really inquisitive and questioning mind and I love that about him.
Sometimes when people talk to me about losing Eilys they say things like “at least you have Dylan” and yes, I am so so glad that I have Dylan and I have no idea how we would have got through losing her without him. However, saying things like that really diminishes the loss of our baby and is like saying that it is ok to have lost one child because Dylan is a substitute, which he isn’t. Also, in saying “at least you have Dylan” it makes loss diminished too or that it doesn’t matter. It does. He misses his sister so much because he loved her so much. He was a brilliant big brother to her, he was kind and loving and so helpful with her. My inquisitive and caring four year old knows about the pain that death brings, he understands loss and it is so awful to witness him going through it all. It is the most heartbreaking thing about us losing Eilys for me. So don’t say at least we have Dylan or expect my loss of Eilys to stop hurting because we have Dylan or a new baby because loss is still loss. Grief is still going to knock me off my feet sone days. Sorry, had to get that off my chest…
Dylan is more interested in the baby moving and like feeling the baby kicking. Yet again, he has picked out a Jellycat teddy for the baby, like he did with Eilys. I didn’t have to drag him along to my midwife appointments this time as they were at my house and mostly on a friday afternoon so Joe would look after Dylan as I had the appointment. The few appointments he was there for he acted as my midwife’s little assistant. He helped pass her bottles for collect blood samples, he helped with checking my blood pressure and he was just brilliant. We took him to 3 out of the 7 scans we had with this baby. The sonographer was so lovely with him. She talked him through the scan, explained what was going on and what she was checking for and even gave him his very own scan photo each time which he loved!
Dylan helped me paint the hot air balloons on the baby’s room wall. We had a really good time painting them on the wall until Mr McPainthands got a bit handsy with the wall and I eventually ended up firing him, not my finest hour!
Our big mistake was that early on was telling Dylan that the baby was due “after his birthday” which was in April and the baby is due in August… in hindsight it was a bit of a stupid thing to say. Pretty much as soon as his birthday was over he’s wanted to know when the baby is coming, bless him.
Dylan is super excited about having a baby brother. I really hope that the baby is on time or a tiny bit early so that he can spend as much time with him as possible although he is going to be gutted that the baby isn’t going to be called Sausage Beancurd Bowie Dylan Hartley.
Thanks for reading xx