As my delivery date draws nearer, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how Noah would react to the babies, and in particular, the first time he actually meets them. There are many articles online about how to introduce your older child to his younger sibling, and I’ve noticed that most of them say the same thing: be sensitive to his feelings, and take your cue from your child.
Noah is a rather sensitive child, and gets upset easily when he feels left out. Sometimes, even when C and I are having a conversation that doesn’t involve him, he becomes sad, and tells us, “Talk to me also. I want to talk also.” When he is playing or trying to play with other children, he gets really affected when other kids don’t want to play with him, and comes to us, nearly in tears, saying, “They don’t want to be my friend.” or “Nobody wants to play with me.” He is by nature quite sociable, so even though we’ve told him umpteen times that it’s okay to play by himself, he still gets upset when others don’t want to play with him.
Bearing that in mind, I think his first encounter with the twins needs to be handled very carefully, because it’s not something that you can reenact. He has shown a lot of interest in the babies so far, and keeps telling me that I can rest while he pats them when they cry, but I’m pretty sure that there will be bouts of jealousy after they are born.
Of course, I cannot predict when the babies will actually arrive, and what we will be doing when I go into labour, but I do think I can try to have some kind of a plan for when Noah meets the babies for the first time. This is of course my “ideal world situation”, and I am fully aware that plans don’t always work, but we can try, can’t we?
Hopefully, C will be in Singapore when I actually go into labour, since he currently shuttles between JKT and SG weekly. We are still praying that the babies will stay inside till 37 weeks, and my doctor will probably suggest that I be induced if they aren’t out by 37 weeks. From our experience with Noah’s birth, being induced takes a long time, but hopefully, the twins won’t take as long as their KorKor to come out. I can’t imagine being away from Noah for that long, plus the longer it takes, the higher the chances of one of them going into distress, which will then require me to go for an emergency c-section. Eeks.
After the delivery, I would ideally have sufficient time to recuperate, before we call Noah together to talk to him. My mum will most likely be the one caring for him when I go into labour, since my parents live nearby, and can come over to our place quickly. We won’t be sending Noah over to their place for a sleepover, because we don’t know how long everything will take, and we want to minimise any disruptions to his schedule. Thankfully, my mum is obliging enough to stay over at our place, so Noah’s daily routine probably won’t be affected much.
C will then be the one to pick Noah up to go to the hospital to see me and the babies. I’ve read a couple of articles, such as this one, and all of them suggest that the younger sibling(s) aren’t in the room when the older child arrives. I think it does make sense, since the child will probably be more keen to see mummy after being apart for some time, and might feel upset or displaced, if the first thing he sees is mummy cuddling the baby.
Noah should then be allowed to spend as much time as he wants with me, talking about what he has been up to while I’ve been away at the hospital, and if possible, I would like to be able to cuddle him. He will always be my baby, even though he will no longer be the baby of the family. I’ll try not to talk about the babies at all, and focus on him and what he did while we were apart, because at his age, kids tend to be more egocentric. The plan is to wait till he asks to see the babies, before getting the babies from the nursery.
It may sound like I’m overthinking things, especially since our parents and grandparents never subscribed to this “being sensitive to the older child” thing, but I feel that if I can do something that might potentially help Noah adjust better to his new role as a big brother, there’s no harm in trying it, right?
We’ve told him that the babies will be giving him presents when they are born, and although he was sceptical about it (“How will the babies be able to go out and buy something?”), he was thrilled at the prospect of receiving presents, and accepted my explanation that we will help the babies to buy him presents on their behalf. We also got him to pick out presents for the babies, so that he learns to give too. That was quite a challenge, because he initially selected some rather impractical gifts, such as a drum set and various (loud) musical instruments. Anyway, he picked out two Care Bears, and hopefully, he (and by he, I mean C, haha) will remember to bring them along to the hospital for the babies.
With the Care Bears he chose for the babies
We’ll be bringing the presents from the babies to the hospital, so we will give them to Noah after he has spent as much time as he likes with the babies. If he has brought the Care Bears for them, then he can give them to the babies, but if he didn’t, he can always do it the next time. We won’t make a fuss out of it, since the babies won’t know the difference, and like I said, Noah is quite sensitive, and I don’t want him to feel bad about forgetting.
Ultimately, I guess it’s about taking our cue from Noah, and letting him spend as much or as little time as he likes with the babies during this first meeting. It’s perfectly fine if he prefers to just hang out with Daddy and Mummy, without the babies around that much, because he would probably have missed us while we were away. I know I would!
So that’s my “ideal world situation” for Noah’s first encounter with the twins! I think the age of the older child also makes a difference, because at 4 years old, I think Noah is a lot more aware and sensitive than say, a 1 or 2 year old child would be. Do share your experiences on how you introduced your older child to his/her younger sibling(s)! I would love to hear about how their first encounters went.