I’m on my second flight with both kids within 24 hours. Someone up there is being kind to us because both boys are sleeping and I have some relaxing time.

Before I start, I saw a bunch of people yesterday who I don’t normally see and I have to say that I was really humbled by the encouraging words about this blog. I really appreciate that they (along with others who have reached out since I started) took the time to tell me they’ve been reading it and liking it. I love that something I’m passionate about and decided to do other people are enjoying so thanks for the encouragement! Encouragement (different from praise – this topic is for another post) is so important for our children.

There is something unique and special about your first born. They are the one who changed you from ____________ [insert your name here] to Mommy or Daddy. For this baby, you counted every week of your pregnancy and you knew exactly what fruit the baby size resembled at each stage. You spent hours imagining what life will be like when the baby arrived and you spent even more hours figuring out everything you need to prepare – from outfitting your house with baby furniture, to getting the right stroller and bath and bottles and the list goes on and on. {it’s amazing what a 7 lb baby comes along with!}

You go from sleeping in and going out at night to seeing other parents and with a knowing glance understanding that those days are long gone. You went from a couple to a family and your life is forever changed. This baby has both of your undivided attention and all their firsts are recorded and remembered. Everything they do is new to you and the excitement can’t be contained. As I said – unique and special.

The time comes when a couple decides they are ready to try for a second baby. Let’s fast-forward to the end of the pregnancy for this second baby. Now take a second and put yourself in the first child’s shoes. EVERYTHING is about to change, and they don’t know it but they can sense something coming.

One morning my son who just turned Two a month before wakes up and mommy and daddy (who put him to sleep the night before and always get him from his crib in the morning) are not home. The day is here, his brother is born and he is officially a BIG brother. We’ve been talking about becoming a big brother for months already, he can’t believe it’s finally here. He’s practiced with a baby doll and stroller, practiced putting his baby doll in the bassinet and now there’s an actual baby. There’s lots of excitement, and grandparents and aunts and uncles are in town to take him around and out of the house. He’s always loved dolls and now loves his baby brother and this seems all too easy….

The out of town guests leave and routine resumes. School was on break but now is back in session and we’re ready to move on with life as a family of four. Just when you thought your heart was so full from your first child, somehow there is so much room in there and so much more love for this second baby. I was prepared for the next few months but I was also not prepared. So. much. guilt.

I’m a week postpartum and decide that since I’ve been driving him to school before the baby was born, I don’t want to change it up so fast so I pray that the baby will want to eat before or after but not during drop off time. I take him to school but sometimes I rush the baby’s feed. It’s not smooth, sometimes I come home and the baby wanted to eat in the 15 minutes I was out and I wasn’t there for him. I wanted to clone myself, be in two places at once, be there to snuggle and hold the baby but be there to drop off and pick up from school. I wanted to do it all – not just during the day, also for bedtime. If I sacrificed time with the baby to be with his big brother, I felt guilty that I only was with the baby to feed him. When I was feeding/pumping which takes up the entire day and therefore unable to do something with my older son, I felt guilty. I couldn’t win. It took time to adjust, to figure out how to give myself to two people instead of one.

My older son LOVES “his baby.” He gives him constant hugs and kisses and really is very sweet with him. But there is no denying that he gave me a hard time about it. There was a period of time when I would go to his room to get him from his afternoon nap and he’d say he didn’t want me. Here I was being nowhere near as present with the baby as I was when he was a baby, sacrificing snuggle time to take him to after school programs for Mommy and Me time, and he was saying he doesn’t want me. I’ll never forget I called my mom in tears – why is this so hard? He never used to do that to me. Again, it took time. I learned to open his door and ask if I should come in. I learned that he wants some time after his nap to himself to just wake up. One day when he refused me, I started to cry (I know, it’s also a hormonal time!) and he looked me in the eye and said “Mommy, I love you.” In that moment I realized that as hard as this is for me, it’s just as hard for him. He had been toilet-trained 5 days before his brother arrived, and when he wanted Mommy to take him to the toilet, sometimes I was attached to the pump and it was difficult. I remember once feeding the baby in the bathroom so I could help him get on the toilet. He was just 2 years old, not yet independent and still needing/wanting his mommy. He was at school in the morning but when he came home in the afternoon and there was this baby in his old room, in what used to be his rocking chair, he was having a hard time. He loved this baby and loved being a big brother – but he didn’t love that this baby had the same Mommy and Daddy. He had to figure out how to reconcile the two.

As time went on, we figured it out. He tested me a lot during that time and I was able to put some of the things I had learned in my mom’s parenting class to the test. I stayed loving but firm and he learned that throwing a tantrum is only effective if someone is willing to listen to it. We came through that time with a stronger relationship.

Advice? If your older child is giving you a hard time, make sure you’re telling them often that you love them. Make sure to carve out some special time just with you and him/her. Be honest and open. I would say, “I know you are having a hard time with mommy feeding the baby but you know when you were younger this is how I fed you. Do you want to look at pictures of you as a baby?” I would invite him into my activities with the baby, ask him to help – “show him how to do Tummy time.” “You’re his big brother, can you help him and bring him a toy?” Kids understand more than we think and they appreciate you acknowledging that this is also a transition for them. You don’t need to start giving in to anything the child wants because you feel bad, you can still keep your relationship just be extra sensitive and extra vocal with loving words and actions that show him/her that yes, you love both of them.

Now the baby is 9 months old and they are just the sweetest brothers. The baby watches his every move and my older son loves making him laugh. They are starting to play together and I know that giving him his brother is the best gift I could have ever given him.

We are ready to land and the boys are waking up so I need to finish –
This was on my mind because on our flight yesterday, I was holding the baby and he was sleeping on me. My older son, who always chooses Daddy if Mommy and Daddy are both there, starts saying, “I want mommy.” It didn’t escalate into anything, and Daddy just explained that right now the baby is sleeping on Mommy so she can’t switch seats, but it reminded me that even though we’re past the hard part it will always be a continued learning curve to parent 2, and please g-d one day when we’re ready 3 or 4.