Apologies if this post is a little rambling and long...I have definite concerns but am having a little trouble articulating them and including relevant info clearly. I am a pregnant step-mom to a young DSS...he will be two about the time this baby is born (I'm due in October). I have been doing some reading and thinking about how to deal with sibling jealousy and preparing older siblings for the presence of a new baby, but I would really like some advice and different perspectives from mamas who have BTDT.
Some background info: my DSS is a very sweet, gentle kid, and is VERY attached...him to me, and I to him. I first met him when he was three months old, and all along my DH has been very supportive of me being an "equal parent"...I change his diapers, bathe him, feed him, put him down for his naps, kiss his boo-boos, wore him in a Moby or mei-tai until he got too big, we co-sleep when he is with us, and I just generally have tried my hardest to be as much of an attached parent as possible.
Since he was about 5 months old, I had NEVER missed a visit with him until this May, when I was sent out of state for a 4-day work-required training. I did everything I could (switched training dates, took a late flight home after a full day of training and traveling, etc) but was still forced to miss one visit (luckily it was not an overnight). DH said DSS was pretty upset that I wasn't there, but he seemed to be okay with it when he saw me the next day - and every visit thereafter - and realized I wasn't gone forever. I don't think he's developed any real separation anxiety or anything, but since the missed visit I've noticed that he sometimes gets anxious if he can't see me (for example, if I go to the bathroom, he will hover outside the door, knocking and calling for me). When my DH picks him up from his birthmom's (I wait in the car), upon seeing DH he immediately starts pointing towards the door/car and asking for me (apparently looking for reassurance that I will be there).
Another behavior I've noticed is that he seems to get jealous of my attention very easily...e.g. if I lean back and close my eyes to rest a little (pregnancy is making me tired!) he will immediately stop whatever he is doing and climb on my lap or tug my hand or something to direct my attention back to him. He also will sometimes get upset if DH puts his arm around me or we hold hands or something...he will do things like tugging my hand away or will try to push DH away from me (he is just as attached to DH as he is to me, of course, it just seems that he gets jealous if I pay attention to DH rather than to him).
I realize that none of these behaviors are major or anything to seriously worry about, but they do make me concerned for when the new baby arrives...I will of course try to give DSS as much love and attention as possible, but it's inevitable that sometimes I will have to nurse baby etc. when DSS wants my attention. Since he is so young, we didn't start talking to him about the new baby until he actually started noticing himself that there is something different about me...he has started wanting to touch and see my belly, and when we told him there is a little baby in there and asked him to touch gently, he started making his favorite stuffed animal kiss me, then DH, then my belly. I'm not sure how much he actually understands, but it's clear that he knows there is something different, that it's a good thing, and that he is happy to be nice to it (or to my belly at least).
One last thing...his birthmom really is doing an excellent job with him (of course we don't always totally agree on all parenting issues, but we all genuinely want what's best for him and try really hard to work together) and he is a very happy, attached, secure and confident kid. Since he will continue to be an only child in her house, do you think this will make it easier for him since he will still have lots of only child time, or will it make it more difficult for him to adjust to having a sibling at our house?
Phew...if you are still reading, I guess I am just looking for advice, suggestions, etc. as to how to help prepare him and make this transition as easy and painless as possible for him...it just breaks my heart to think that his happy little self might be hurt and confused by the sudden arrival of his new little brother or sister.
Thanks so much, in advance, for any advice or help you can give!
Head over heels for DH bonus mama to super sweet DSS (10/9) and mama to DD (10/11)!
Honestly, I think that you have a lovely family situation right now. I always wished my relationship with my DSD could be as close as yours is with your DS.
All of this seems very normal for a child of that age expecting a sibling. Heck, they seem like normal things for a child of that age period (I have an almost 2 yo and privacy in the bathroom seems like something that does not apply to me ).
I would just say that you should relish this alone time that you have with your DSS now, because you definitely will have to divide your attention in a few months. You sound like an amazing stepmama. Keep doing what you are doing, and your family will be fine.
I also have a stepchild (a step-daughter in my case) whom I have known since she was an infant, who is very attached to me, to whom I am an "equal parent" at our house, and who was an only child at mom's and had a new sibling at our house when she was 2. Developmentally, separation issues are very age appropriate right now. Also, there is a lot of time (developmentally speaking) between now and October, so he will likely be in a different place then than he is now. All kids are different, but if he is generally a secure and happy little boy, that is unlikely to change with the addition of a new sibling. I would make sure you make time for some one-on-one activities with him post-baby (I did a parent-child gymnastics class with my step daughter) which can give you soem bonding time. It could be something as simple as a tradition of getting an ice cream, going to the library, or reading a bedtime story, as long as it is without little brother/sister.
Also, I will just tell you that each time I was pregnant and had an almost-two-year-old, I was very worried about how my toddler would take being "replaced" as the baby... and every single time I was surprised by how unphased they were by it and how joyfully they welcomed the new little one. It absolutely will change things, but it isn't change for the worse.