Brothers

I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since we welcomed our second Sprout into our family. From the moment we decided to have a second child the doubts were plenty. Not about the actual WANTING another child, but how it would affect the family dynamics, especially regarding Sprout 1.

Brothers

Would I be able to love another child as much as I already loved Sprout 1? Would they get along? Would he be jealous? Could we dedicate enough time and resources to a second child? What would I do about breastfeeding (I was still breastfeeding Sprout 1 when I found out I was pregnant)? Is this fair to Sprout 1? And on, and on…

Of course, looking back now these questions seem almost silly. It’s amazing how these little ones fill our hearts so completely, yet there’s always room for more. My two sons are so very different, yet quite similar all at once. My sons’ relationship has grown. I think they both benefit from having each other, and they both love each other… most of the time.

Sprout 2 (10 months) is still at that stage of adoring his big brother, even when he gets knocked over! Sprout 1 (almost 4 years) has moments ranging from adoration to frustration and occasional spurts of jealousy when baby is getting “too much” attention (think milestones, like sitting, crawling, eating).

We’re into a good groove at the moment, but it hasn’t always been this way. I was surprised to find after Sprout 2’s birth that Sprout 1 wasn’t upset at the baby, but rather was upset at us. At me in particular, for a while. he was NOT happy with all the time I was spending with his baby brother.

We found ways to help him with his feelings and things got better as they got to know each other and as baby grew and became more responsive (smiles for big brother! giggles! chasing! yay!).

One thing I found helpful was giving him a doll to take care of. He would change diapers, burp, carry and even breastfeed (too cute!). We were also very open and explained why babies needed so much attention and how he was when he was a baby. We never denied him expressing feelings of wanting the baby to go back in mama’s belly, or insisted he loved his brother when he said he didn’t. Soon enough things fell into a new sort of normal.

I also found books to be a big help with the process, both for him and for me. Here are four books which really helped prepare the way and that he occasionally STILL asks to read.

Books for preparing the arrival of a new sibling

There's going to be a baby, by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury

This book is brilliant. It’s a conversation throughout the seasons between mother and son where they both imagine what baby will be once he’s big. Sprout 1 loves the scenarios and really identified with the little boy. I loved that the little boy expressed his negative feelings toward the baby, yet ends with a “Grandpa, we’re going to love our baby, aren’t we?”;  brought tears to my hormonal eyes.

What's inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

What’s inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

This book was recommended by a friend and it’s perfect for little ones to get a month by month picture of what is going on inside Mom’s belly. It consists of month by month 2-page spreads with tidbits about the growing baby along with real sized pictures of baby inside the “mummy’s tummy”. Sprout 1 loved to have me hold it up to my belly. It’s great for preschoolers who want to know the why’s and how’s, without too much information. It ends with a push and some information about newborns (referencing both breastfeeding and bottle feeding).

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

This picture book depicts many scenarios of what happens when baby is here. Lots of discreet breastfeeding images and side by sides of what baby does and what big sister or brother can do. Also pictures of going for walks with baby in a carrier. It gives kids an idea of how they can be included in activities with baby (helping with the bath, etc) and how activities like story-time and singing can include baby as well. A great little book for toddlers and preschoolers.

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

This book is certainly geared towards attachment parenting families. It has images of baby sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to the parent’s bed, being carried in a sling, breastfeeding, etc. It has little tidbits for the older sibling, and includes more than one older sibling, so good for families with more kids. Sprout 1 loved seeing familiar scenes and could relate to the parts addressing the older sibling’s feelings like wishing the baby would go away.

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Finally, a book for the parents. I must admit I’m still reading through this as it covers before birth to adolescence, so I dip in as I feel the need. I researched many books on sibling relationships and from the reviews, this one seemed to be what I was looking for. It addresses the many stages of sibling relationships and family dynamics. The book is peppered with anecdotes from real parents, children and health visitors. It’s easy to read in short spurts (is it too much information if I tell you this book sits in our bathroom?) and is packed with sound advice and reminders of simple things we sometimes forget or overlook.

Do you have more than one child? Are you thinking about it? How have you handled it and do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share?

Pregnancy library

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I’ve been reading up on the matter. Besides the many blogs and forums I’ve been visiting, I’ve also managed to build up a pregnancy library at home! These are the books I’ve been reading:

what-to-expect What to Expect when you’re expecting

by Sandee E. Hathaway, Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff

This was the very first pregnancy book I bought and I quite like it. It has a lot of useful information in a Q&A format and it’s divided up my months (at the beginning of each month it says from which week until which it goes, e.g. 6th month, weeks 24 to 28). It is very useful for reference, but maybe not so much if you get obsessed or paranoid with possible complications (fortunately not my case) because it does describe just about everything that can go wrong. It also has a chapter for dads-to-be (which R has not even looked at yet!) and other useful info. I definitely recommend it for reference.

cuidados-naturaisCuidados Naturais na Gravidez

by Zita West (a Portuguese translation of Natural Pregnancy)

I have Claudia to thank for this book and the next! 🙂 This book also gives useful information on the various stages of pregnancy, but is more focused on a natural approach, meaning alternative therapies, nutritional information, etc. It’s very interesting and backed with practical and useful tips. It is not bible size like what to expect, so it is easier to consult. I love the natural approach to pregnancy symptoms (and pregnancy in general) and I think it gives a very good introduction to alternative therapies that can be used, such as homeopathic remedies, massages, osteopathy and hypnotherapy.

agenda-da-gravida

Agenda da Grávida

Impala Edições

This book was lent to me by Claudia and I believe it was the main one she used during her pregnancy last year. It is a week by week guide to pregnancy, with a calendar section each week that you can fill out with your own notes. What I love the best is that Claudia has filled out some of her stuff and since we are due for around the same time (with 2 yrs difference), it is interesting to see we have been going through much of the same. Personally, I don’t think I would actually buy this because most of this information is available on-line (in English-speaking sites mostly) and can be received through newsletters. However, I have been reading every week because it is very easy and the information is very useful. I think this would be especially useful for those who have a more limited access to Internet or that would like information in Portuguese.

hypnobirthingHypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

By Marie Mongan

I bought this in December and have been slowly reading through. This isn’t one of those books that focuses on what is happening during your pregnancy, but mostly on labour preparation. Now, don’t get put off by the title! I have heard many people swear by this method and it really does seem to help with labour if, like me, you plan to do it as natural as possible and (hopefully) without an epidural.

The Book promises “pain free” delivery, but to be honest… I don’t believe in that! Not entirely. I think the basis for this method is very interesting and it’s excellent to help you overcome the fear of birthing most women have (and that many times is what leds to more stressful and painful deliveries). That said, I think you have to filter through what is said and take bits and pieces from it. I’m all for natural, but I think sometimes the book can go a bit over board with some demands, etc. That said, I’ve found it very useful so far, but can only comment further once I finish it (and after the birt, of course!). It comes with a cd with a relaxation track and a brth visualisation track. I’ve been using the relaxation cd before bed, which I’m not sure is a good idea because I think I’ve only been able to hear the full track once or twice. Although I do suppose that means it works 😉 I will definitely be writing more on this later on.

attendre-bebe

Attendre bebe… autrement

by de Piraud-Rouet Catherine, Sampers-Gendre Emmanuelle

I only came across this one recently and I had a real debate with myself on whether or not it was worth spending more money on yet another pregnancy book. But I flicked through it and thought this is really for me. It’s in french and is more about the situation in France. However, things are similar in Belgium (to an extent) and there is some (sparse) info on Belgium as well.

This would have been my bible had I bought it earlier on. It has a lot of info on “alternative” birthing methods, natural pregnancy, birthing plans, etc. However, the information is given to you in a very matter-of-fact way, not excluding the more medicalised solutions and it even has a part on c-sections. It also has an example of a birth story in various settings: c-section, medicalised, hospital but less medicalised, home birth, etc. I really like this book and since it’s in french, it does help to get more familiar with the lingo. It’s just too bad I didn’t find this earlier… I think it would have made a great difference.

babybelgium

Besides these books, I also have a booklet by the Brussels Childbirth Trust entitled “Having your baby in Belgium“.I definitely recommend getting  hold on this if you are an expat in Belgium (Brussels in particular).

For more information you can go here or here. These links tell you where you can get it as well. This booklet really gives you an insight on what you can expect and what to do/where to find help.

I also recommend the Pregnancy in Belgium evenings hosted by the BCT in Brussels.

I’ve also been going through a booklet given to me at the maternity called Baby Boom. I believe it is linked to a baby expo and it has way too much advertising in it. It does have some useful Belgian info though.

Every now and then I buy a French magazine called Neuf Mois. This is mostly to keep my magazine addiction going ;). Actually, it has useful articles and good product reviews.