Adding Another Child
Written by: Katie Sprunger
When we found out that I was pregnant with our third child, we were so excited. Yet, we wondered how our kids would react. Would they welcome this baby? Would they be willing to give me time to recover? Would they act out since I wouldn’t be able to give them as much one-on-one attention? How could I balance meeting the need of each of my kids? What would be the new normal for all of us?
Early in my pregnancy I encouraged my kids (at that time ages 4 and 2) to rub my growing belly, to talk to their brother or sister, and ask me as many questions as they wanted. Of course, I had to decide early on how much information to share with them. I wanted to be honest with my kids but needed to make my responses appropriate for their ages. Questions that we faced almost daily were: “Where do babies come from?” “How does the baby get in your belly?” “How does the baby grow inside of you?” “How does the baby eat, sleep, see, or poop?” And our favorite, “How does the baby come out of you?” I honestly enjoyed navigating these questions with my curious kids and enjoyed watching their faces glow with excitement waiting for their baby to come.
When we had our third baby, there was nothing better than watching my older kids hug and kiss their baby brother in the hospital room. It was awesome! A lot of my anxiety and questions diminished as I watched them interact with him. Of course, many difficult times were ahead of us, but that moment was and still is so precious to me.
I can’t say that I noticed big behavior problems with my older kids, but I noticed a constant struggle to spend quality time with them. A newborn baby (who I was nursing) requires so much time and energy. It felt like I was constantly telling my kids to just wait or that I would help them in a minute. My oldest really struggled emotionally and would have times where she would cry because she just wanted me. I definitely felt some guilt those first couple of months.
As much as it was hard adjusting, I believe it was good. I tried to involve my kids with the baby. I asked them to help me change his diaper, get me more wipes or diaper ointment, grab me a toy, sing to him while I went to the bathroom. One day in particular I was making lunch and walked into the living room to see my oldest reading a book to her brothers. It was such a beautiful moment I captured in my heart. I hadn’t asked her to do this; she just did it.
And now that my baby is almost one, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this past year. It is so true that a baby indeed changes everything. These changes have been so great for our family. My older kids are such great helpers and genuinely love their baby brother. It is so fun watching them interact.
As with any change to a family, I believe it takes a watchful eye to observe what is happening within your home. I made it a priority to do a couple girl dates with my daughter and have one-on-one playtime with my middle child. I found it was crucial that I plan date nights with my husband. They all needed to feel they were still very important and needed in our home even though I had to spend a lot more time tending to our baby.
As you reflect on my blog today, I hope you take some time to think of some ways you can show each of your children they matter to you. How can you remind your spouse that your marriage is most important, even over your children? When I make this a priority in my home, I’ve found we have a better sense of belonging and grow closer as a family!