Arjun is such an independent little boy but he loves the company of other children. We told him we were pregnant quite soon after finding out by explaining mummy has his brother or sister inside her tummy. To be honest, it’s so difficult for even me to comprehend that there is a new beautiful life growing inside me – that I’m fuelling their growth, I’m providing them shelter and a warm and safe place till they enter this big world. How can a child really begin to comprehend it if I can’t despite the constant reminder from its tiny kicks and rolls?
It’s been a mixed reaction from him for sure and I feel so apprehensive about how he’ll “handle it”. I mean I know millions of kids go through it on a daily basis and I know that I always dreamt of him growing up with a sibling but I can’t help but feel nervous. Arjun is the only grandchild on both sides of the family and he is absolutely showered with so much love and attention (in a positive non brat-ish way!). I just hope he doesn’t have to grow up too quickly – to me, he’s still a baby. A tiny person with lots of emotions learning his way through life. He’ll be feeling emotions that he’s never felt before, that are alien to him. Both positive and negative. I just want to make sure I’m giving him as much support to process those feelings and emotions as possible by Preetam and I holding his hand through this journey.
Not only has Arjun had to deal with the idea of a sibling, we are also dealing with lots of other changes in our life – major building work – the impact of which I really underestimated on him. Not only are his home surroundings changing, but Preetam also doesn’t have as much time to spend with Arjun as he did before as we are frantically trying to get things done. Preetam is often working till past midnight straight after work before rising the next morning at 6am to go to work before repeating the same day again. It’s been tough on all of us. I’m so thankful for the beautiful weather as it has meant that Arjun can play in the garden while Preetam does the building work when possible which means they get to spend time together.
As well as the building work, Arjun has also changed rooms at nursery. Something that has taken him a long while to adapt to. They seem a lot less invested in his new room which concerns me as I need him to have a solid support system through all his changes. It’s been heartbreaking to see him hysterical in the mornings, physically fighting to come back to me as I leave him to go to work. It just adds to the guilt. I worry that he’s unable to express what he’s feeling and that he may be carrying a heavy weight around and I’m unable to help as I don’t know what the exact cause is – again, making me feel pretty helpless and sh*tty!
His behaviour has definitely changed since we shared the news in many ways. He’s become a lot more clingy especially to me – where he’d happily walk around before, most of the time now when we are out, he wants me to pick him up which can be challenging and tiring. But I know it’s just a phase and his way of seeking reassurance. I want to be able to give him that as his mother. He’s become so affectionate and sometimes it feels as though he is scared of someone else taking me away from him. He’s even had an “argument” with a waiter at Pizza Hut thinking he wanted to take me (so awkward!) saying “no my mummy!”.
I noticed he recently started biting his nails, but thankfully it only lasted a few weeks. I’m not sure if it was just a random phase, or his way of dealing with stress.
I am so hyper aware that things are changing as our family is growing and that I want to implement the change as staggered as possible so Arjun doesn’t have to deal with too many things at once. I know it won’t prepare him for the arrival of another little person that he’ll have to share mummy and daddy with, but I’m hoping it’ll help minimise any negative feeling and enable him to feel confident, reassured and familiar with what’s coming his way.
Here are some of the steps I’ve taken:
Nursery support: Arjun’s old Keyworker suggested they could introduce Arjun to the idea of babies by encouraging him to play with the baby dolls by putting them to sleep, changing their nappies etc. They have also started to read him books which incorporate the idea of becoming a big brother/sister. I have definitely seen Arjun’s soft side when I’ve gone to pick him up from nursery and spied on him and seen him cuddling a baby doll, patting it to sleep or talking it for a walk in a buggy. It’s so cute and warms my heart to see!
New bedroom: we decided to keep the nursery as it is and instead to move Arjun in to a totally new room. I let him pick what theme he’d like to decorate it in and he obviously picked Paw Patrol as one of his programmes (but then decided Mickey Mouse was his favourite a few days after I had ordered all the bits)! Needless to say, he was thrilled when he saw his new room. I moved all his toys in to his new room and we also included a double bed. I wanted to ensure Arjun is very comfortable in his new space well in advance of the baby arriving. We decided to place a double bed in his new room as before he was often coming in to our room during the night and was beginning to really cramp things (I spent most of the night hanging off the bed!). I figured this way, Preetam or I could jump in with him and Arjun may also welcome the extra space. Also, once the baby is here, Preetam may need to be with Arjun during the night a little more. It’s worked so well. Arjun often sleeps through the night and if he does wake, Preetam will jump in with him and they get to have quality sleepy cuddles! Arjun now refers to the nursery as “baby’s room” and his room as “Arjy’s room”.
Extra time with grandparents: earlier in the year I wrote a post about “why do I need to leave my son anywhere?” It was before I fell pregnant. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve consciously encouraged the grandparents, masis, chacha, pua and fufar to take Arjun to spend one on one time with him so he gets undivided attention and also gets used to being alone there if he ever needs a break once baby is here. He loves his time with Nana Nani, Dada Dadi!
Talk to the baby: I encourage Arjun to talk to the baby when he feels comfortable doing so but I never push him. He’ll often say “wakey wakey baby”. He’s named the baby Arjun lol.
TV programmes: one of Arjun’s favourite episodes of Mickey Mouse is “Goofy Baby” where Goofy morphs in to a baby and the rest of the crew have to baby sit him. In that episode they put Goofy to sleep, change his nappy, feed him and burp him and also try and settle him when he is crying. He also likes the Peppa Pig episode where baby Alexander comes to visit. Encouraging him to watch baby episodes when he does watch TV again helping to introduce the idea to him. Arjun mimics what they do on the programmes on the baby doll I got for him.
Getting involved: I talk to Arjun as much as possible about the baby without it being overwhelming and without every conversation being dominated by it. At the same time I want to make the most of my time with him as a single child. We have taken Arjun shopping to pick clothes for the baby (where he was more interested in the escalator!) and I’ll also be getting him to help fold the baby’s clothes for the wardrobes.
Birth prep: For the birth of the baby, I let Arjun pick which matching leggings fabric he likes so I can make the baby, Arjun and myself all matching pairs as the baby’s coming home outfit so Arjun feels very much included. I’ll also ensure Arjun receives a gift from the baby the first time he comes to meet them.
Arjun’s behaviour towards babies has definitely changed. He’s become quite sensitive to them and it feels like he’s developed a new sense of understanding and responsibility towards them. My cousin sister has recently had a baby and when baby Jaylen cries, Arjun will try and comfort him by telling him “mummy’s coming” and will find my cousin to inform her he’s crying “baby crying”. He also plays very differently with babies – almost in an adult like manner where he’ll try and explain to Jaylen what the toy is, how it works and the sounds it may make.
Sometimes he will lift up my top and stroke my belly, give it gentle kisses and rest his head on it while watching TV. Other times he will use it as a punch bag. He uses my belly button as a peep hole to see the baby which is the sweetest thing ever – his innocence is so warming.
Sometimes he’ll acknowledge that there’s a baby in mummy’s tummy and boastfully tell other pregnant ladies with similar bellies that the baby is in his mummy’s tummy. Other times he’ll say there is no baby.
Sometimes he’ll talk about the baby himself and it melts my heart so much. Other times he will have selective hearing and completely ignore you if you mention it.
Sometimes he’ll lull his baby doll to sleep and other times he’ll go missing to find his screw driver to screw the baby’s eyes out!
I’m trying my best to support Arjun during lots of change and to help him be as confident as possible. Patience can be testing at times as his tantrums are in full swing at the moment! But I think we’ll get there. I’m really looking forward to him being a big brother despite the guilt that often consumes me. I think he will be so loving and proud although we’ll be sure to have our moments!!
If you have any tips on anything else I can do, I’d love to hear. x