Nope- i am not expecting again…just wanted to share my experience of preparing my toddler twins for their new baby brother’s arrival. A couple of friends called recently to ask how i helped the twins adjust to the new baby and so i thought i would just put some ideas down here.
When we found out I was pregnant with baby number 3 (Ameya) we were all pretty surprised..and excited…and worried. worried about how we would manage…how we would fit in our apartment…how we would ever manage going out for the next few years…but most of all about how the twins would take to this new entrant in the family. The boys were just about 13 months old when i took the pregnancy test…the two pink lines that announced yet another addition to the gang. They were too small really to understand and so for the first trimester i did not really say anything much to them about the baby. I felt it wold have been too abstract a concept.
One good thing was the fact that my neighbor was also expecting at the same time and she was about 4 months ahead of me. The boys played often with her elder daughter and we met pretty often. So they saw her tummy growing. We started talking about it. I pointed to her and told them there was a baby inside. I still wasn’t showing so i used her to talk about a baby inside. A few months later she delivered a baby boy and the kids now saw what we meant by “baby”. We went over often so they got a chance to see the new baby and observe his habits and routines. They were quite excited by this arrival. By this time, i had started showing. So now i told them that there was a baby inside me too…a new sibling for them just like their friend. Every night after their bath we would sit down and read a book and then spend a little time talking to the ‘baby’. The boys found it very amusing to get their mouth close to my tummy and say something silly. Then they would look at me and laugh. They also kissed my tummy and farty sounds with their mouth on my tum. I let them because i figured there was no reason to say NO.
I would use fruits to show them how big the baby was getting every month and they loved that. I also started slowly putting together a little bag of clothes and stuff for the new baby. We did this together – they picked out some of their baby clothes for the new sibling and also helped put some toys aside. I remember one funny moment when Siddhant decided to make the most of the situation. He took a bunch of random things that did not work and that he did not want and came up to me: “for baby ok?…thank you!”
I also got a book for the boys. My New Baby by Rachel Fuller. We read this together every night and that got us started on many small conversations about babies. It has very simple beautiful illustrations that highlight a lot of stuff about babies and the differences between babies and toddlers. It shows a mother breast feeding, changing nappies, getting the baby dressed, etc. The boys were curious about breast feeding because they have their milk in a bottle, so we spoke about how mommies feed little babies. Since the boys also love animals, i showed them pictures of a cow being milked as well to help make some connections. We also saw a calf feeding and that was wonderful!
I involved the boys in picking names, helping me pack my hospital bag, etc. I let them feel the baby kicking. However, i tried to ensure that i did not focus too much on the baby or baby talk. We did all that was part of our regular routine. By the time it was time for my delivery they were pretty excited about the new baby coming.
My husband and mum were in the delivery room with me and mum video recorded the pediatrician taking the baby, cleaning him, weighing him, etc. Then she showed the twins their baby brother and played the video for them as many times as they asked for it. I delivered at 3.30 pm and the boys finally came to see me at the hospital at 5.30 pm. One of the twins stood by the bed looking a little confused while the other jumped onto my bed and kissed both me and the baby.
And the following day when i took the baby home, both my boys watched with excitement and wonder. My most precious moment was when i looked at nishant and saw him looking at his baby brother in the crib with what can only be described as pure pure and uncontainable love, a broad smile plastered on his face.
The next few days were crucial in ensuring that the boys did not feel neglected. I let them touch the baby, i put him on their laps, they helped with diaper changes. I let them sit with me while i fed the baby, i let them peer curiously at where the milk was so magically appearing from. I made a very very conscious effort to avoid the word NO. And i always referred to him as their baby.
There have been days when they have told me to put him down and play with them, when they have squeezed their way onto my lap, the occasional rough pat from sid, the occasional tantrum about wanting me. But in general we have tried to continue with our routines as far as possible. I have mastered the art of feeding and reading, nursing and crayoning. It is not easy but i feel that the twins have been pretty accepting of their brother. They show concern and a lot of love. they are proud, protective and possessive. It has now been almost four months. Let us see how things move from here!