Older sibling adjustment support thread - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-06-2012, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I just had baby #2 last Thursday and I am really struggling with my 3 year old's adjustment to the baby.  I was nervous anyway because DD is very attached to me - she's gone through a pretty intense separation anxiety phase over the past several months, still nurses, and sleeps with me most of the night and still often wakes during the night, sometimes for an hour or two.


She got sick when I was in labor - a rash all over her body that comes and goes and she threw up the first morning the baby was at home.  We've taken her to the dr twice - they think it's viral that may be exacerbated by stress.  Her sleep is totally off and I think her classic "stress response" is to stop sleeping - two night ago she was awake from 3 til 630am and last night from 1 to 7am!  The baby is sleeping great but I am completely exhausted from not sleeping cuz of DD.  She is her "normal self" for most of the day but has some pretty intense tantrums, which are not helped by the lack of sleep. 


I think my postpartum hormones are kicking in today and I've been crying on and off all day - I hate that this is so hard for her.  I realize this is all a normal reaction but it's so hard to see her struggling like this. 


Anyone else having a hard time with older siblings?  Any advice from anyone who has been there?

Loving wife to DH and mama to DD (11/08) and DS (2/12) and expecting another little boy (4/15)
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#2 of 8 Old 02-06-2012, 07:35 PM
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My son was 20 mo when my daughter was born, and he didn't have negative reactions in terms of more tantrums, less sleep like you are describing but he was VERY aggressive with her. He could be sweet, but he use to hit her all the time, right in the face. Sometimes I would feel so angry at him, that I almost wanted to spank him, even though I'm totally anti spanking and it didn't make sense anyways to spank him for hitting her...I just couldn't help it. I will say that despite everything I tried, it really didn't start to get better until my daughter began walking and talking. Suddenly it was as if this light bulb went off and she was no longer just a threat/nuisance to him but he saw her a playmate. They are the best of buds today and are pretty inseparable.


I know none of that was any advice, but I just wanted to let you know that I've been there, and know how hard it is seeing your first born struggle with the change. Its a big adjustment for them, but don't guilt yourself up thinking you've ruined her life or anything - having a sibling has been one the greatest things I think I've done for my son. Its all so new for her, I'm sure she will adjust. All you can do is give her extra loves and don't forget to give yourself a break too!

Katie, wife to the one, mother to Henry and Ruby.
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#3 of 8 Old 02-06-2012, 07:55 PM
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oh, sweet mama.  sorry it's so hard for her and how that hurts your mama heart is clear.  my youngest threw up on Sat. night and i am soooooo glad I was not going into labor.  goodness. 


so, transition is the hardest part.  it's going to get easier and better each day.


i found that I needed to really connect with my oldest, for my sake and hers throughout the day.  Reading books in bed while I nursed really helped us.  Doing anything one on one while sitting down to nurse really was key.  That way she had my attention and we were together.  I have a basket of stuff like coloring books, wiki stix, beeswax in my closet along with a basket of snacks so she could help herself to treats and feel special but have her needs met, too.  the baby also brought her some gifts!  i am doing all of that stuff over again since i want them to feel connected to me while I get rest in my room or am just nursing for the 8th time.  i spent $1.50 on some of the little sticker books for them to do.  their colored pencils are in my room now, too.  i don't mean that 'stuff' should fill the void or anything.  Just that reading or coloring one on one is a way to connect.  Clearly, it can be snuggles and talking, too while the babe naps or nurses.  Anything to really be present with her may help.  Showing her you are so still into her may help.  And, b/c she is so young, lots of explanations and talking about it may not work as well as just showing her. 


p.s. my girls are 27 months apart and are BEST FRIENDS.  they absolutely fall over each other in love.  they cannot stop talking to each other at lunch and dinner and do everything together even if I suggest otherwise.  DH and I joke that they are like newlyweds with how much they want to be around each other.  The oldest will look at books with her lil sis, run her bath water, help her get on PJs, etc.  We also joke that we had to have another babe just to be needed now that they are so into each other.  They don't even need us anymore.  So, look forward to those days b/c they are coming and they are AWESOME.

doula mama to my nov 05 and my feb 08 babes who wrap me in love.
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#4 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 03:18 AM
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I had a rough adjustment going from DS1 to DS2, and i agree with everything above about doing little activities while you nurse. This time there has been little to no transition, and basically what we did differently was really set up nursing stations in every room the kids play so that I can be in there.. helping with puzzles, homework, coloring, or whatever. We also placed alot of emphasis on this being THEIR baby, not my baby or the baby. My DS2, who previously was in my lap constantly, loves to snuggle up next to us on the couch with his baby brother. I am constantly encouraging them to hug him, touch him and talk to him, or get diapers, blankets, etc for him so theyre helpful. I'm sorry you're having a rough time. It was so hard for me when we had our second. Sometimes i think no matter what you do, it just depends on the child's personality.. and they will adjust eventually. When DS1 was having a hard time, i remember taking him to the craft store to pick out a bunch of small activities and a little back pack for him to keep all of his special stuff in.. then as i nursed hed go through it and play quietly.. and he felt special for getting something new and cool.

Jesse, mama to my three wonderful boys, our newest born at home late Jan 2012 luxlove.gif





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#5 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 10:35 AM
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Anyone experience difficulty with an even bigger stretch in between children?  DD is 9 and vascillates between intense excitement over the new baby, and what appears to be apprehension about how her life as a much loved & doted on (but not spoiled) only child will change. 

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#6 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 10:46 AM
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I'm having a hard time with this as well, Bluedaisy.  It has started to get easier ( a little) in the past 2-3 days but I'm feeling guilty about just about everything and how it effects DD1.  She and I have always been super close and it's so hard to have to tell her she has to wait or watch her suffer with jealousy for sharing her mama.  So hard that I'm starting to cry just writing about it! 


Nights and tandem nursing have been especially hard and we've had major crying fits and arguments in the middle of the night several times now.  The last few nights have been a little easier but I'm totally baffled about how to cosleep with both of them at the same time right now.  DD2 is so tiny and fragile and DD1 is so enormous and strong.  We've been having DH take DD2 into DD1's bed until she needs to nurse again for part of the night.  That way, we are all sleeping and I get to cuddle my big girl for a few hours each night too. 


The things that have helped me are a) remembering that this is a phase and that she'll get through it; b) thinking about how nice it will be for the girls to play together when DD2 is older; and c) admitting to DD1 that I also find DD2 a little strange-- more animal than person at this point.  I made up a silly nickname for her yesterday and DD1 was clearly thrilled to discover I saw things her way. 



Partner to DH and mom to DD1 (3/2008) and DD2 (born 1/2012).
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#7 of 8 Old 02-07-2012, 02:26 PM
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Yes, buggysmum!  DS1 is 6.5 and he is very impatient with the changes around him.  It manifests less as anxiety that he can verbalize and more as immature physicality and energy.  He is very hyper around DS2 (1 week old), jostles his head, talks loudly at him, tries to manipulate his body like a stuffed animal, and all the time I am saying/nagging/repeating, No, Gentle, Not so loud, etc. 


One evening this week when I was saying good night he was able to express disappointment in how little the baby can do and how he (DS2) cries too much and makes weird facial expressions (!).  I feel terrible that it will be at least a year before this longed-for sibling will be capable of a relationship of the kind he wants.  And I worry that by then he will be so old he'll be uninterested. . . I don't know if it's because he's a boy - terrible generalizations here - or because of his particular personality but I don't think asking for his help or involving him more in care would be the right way to go.  I like the idea of special activities for him while I'm nursing or absorbed in baby care.


No advice here to give, but if anyone has thoughts about how to help with his bonding and family cohesion I'd welcome it.

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#8 of 8 Old 02-08-2012, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses, it's really helpful to know I'm not alone and also to be able to look past the immediate difficulties and think long term - I have two sisters and I value my relationship with them so much - I know not everyone has great sibling relationships but it does help to know that I'm not ruining her life, and having a brother will hopefully be a very positive thing in her life.  I think I needed to hear that and gain some perspective.  We did have a much better day today, but she was awake again in the middle of the night so I just have to figure out how to get some sleep

Loving wife to DH and mama to DD (11/08) and DS (2/12) and expecting another little boy (4/15)
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