As an OB/GYN physician (and mother of 5 boys), I am given the awesome opportunity to take care of expecting families. The majority of the articles for expecting moms are focused on our “first-time-moms”. As we approach Mother's Day, I want to focus on moms that are experienced or “veteran-mommies.”
I frequently observe veteran-mommies in states of anxiety and sometimes maybe even a little depressed as the birth of the new baby approaches. These moms often say, "I love my child so deeply, how could I ever love another child as much as my first?" At times like this, I take off my 'doctor hat' and put on my 'mommy hat.' Ladies, I felt the same way when I was expecting my second child. Many patients often feel guilty expressing these feelings. I assure you, these feelings are normal and shared by many expectant mothers.
I felt the same way, when I was expecting my second child. For 18 months, my oldest, was the center of our attention and love. When the second child joins the family, the 'only child' becomes the 'first born' and the parent-child relationship changes drastically, but not in a bad way.
If you can make the transition of your first born becoming a sibling into a positive one, this will lessen your stress. The Women's Hospital offers a siblings class that can help children learn about babies and makes a big production of graduating to big brother or big sister. Try not to forget about your older children when you are buying things for the new baby. I remember buying a large teddy bear from Pottery Barn for the nursery. As soon as my toddler saw this bear, there was no way he was going to give it to his new baby brother! Thirteen years later, we still have that beloved bear, he has just retired to our teenage son’s closet.
Finally, during this transition period it is essential that you don't forget about yourself. I always think of the analogy of the airlines' instructions of putting on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. You must take care of yourself and have some "me time." It is essential that you continue in self-care activities (whether it is running, scrapbooking, massage, yoga etc.). Taking care of yourself will help you be a better and more effective parent to your children.
Now, as a mother of five boys and 13 years later since the birth of our second child, I can tell you with confidence that this guilt shall pass. I think back on the past 13 years and some of my fondest memories are of the boys playing and giggling with each other (between the moments that my basement sounds like a wrestling tournament). Seriously, when you find one of your kids helping their younger sibling, it truly melts your heart. It has often been said, you don't just have space in your heart for one more child, but that your heart actually grows with each baby...and I found this to be true!
Happy Mother's Day to all!