My partner and I are planning for a midwife assisted birth in February. I have a 7 year old son as well, who really wants to be present when his sister arrives, and I have mixed feelings about this. We live on a small island and will have to go by ferry to hospital (no home births allowed here!), so its no easy task to just call up and and have Nate come meet the new baby, especially if its the middle of the night. I've been weighing the pros and cons of having him there, and am worried that it could be traumatic for him. Or it could be great as well. My mother will be the one looking after him so he can theoretically come and go as they and I wish, maybe get a hotel room nearby if things move slowly. I guess my question is mainly about other peoples experience with older children attending births, and how they managed. Nate is a pretty sensitive kid, and he is hounding me almost daily to guarantee him that he can be there, but with so many variables I don't feel confident to make that promise. Any thoughts?
My daughter was 7 when I had a homebirth with her baby brother. She too was/is a sensitive child, and it turned out to be a mistake to have her there. HOWEVER, I think your situation is very different. If he can truly leave if he gets uncomfortable, I think having him there would be great. In my case, while I had someone here just for my daughter, they had no where to go to get away from my sounds. (I am a "yeller" during birth lol). This was almost 5 years ago and she still insists she'll never have a baby because it hurts too much, and that breaks my heart.
Since you son really wants to be there, but can leave if he ends up needing to, I would go for it and go with the flow. If he needs a hotel room, get one, and at least that way you'll have the choice to have him there or not. It sounds like changing your mind and having him come at the last minute may not be an option. In the end, only you and your partner can decide if you are comfortable having him there and if he has the personality to handle the situation, but it sounds to me that your options make it sound sensible to give it a try. Best wishes for a dream birth for all of you. :)
A home birth may be different but I think a hospital birth may be too overwhelming for a lot of kids. I would take him to the hospital, say goodbye and tell him you will call as soon as baby comes. Then Grandma can take him to the nearby hotel or even out and about depending on time of day. Once baby arrives, daddy calls grandma and big brother meets baby right away. My DD will only be a bit over two when baby arrives but this is my plan.i know 7 is a lot older but unless you think he will do great with hospital AND birth, I think the more realistic plan is to have him present RIGHT after the birth.
Just my two cents. Go with your gut.
My midwife let my 5yr old neice into the room and was great at talking to her and explaining how this was normal and ok. I wouldn't have changed that for the world. In fact DD will be with us for this LO's birth (she will be almost 5 at the time)... we have been watching video's on youtube with my voice over of explaining what is happening, how the noises are normal, how beautiful it is that our bodies are designed to stretch that way... lots of positive normalizing... Now she asks when we can watch more!
WOHMama to DD (July 2008) and DS (May 2013); wife to DH .
Live your life, like your life depends on it.