When my son was born almost 5 years ago, he was the center of my universe. He was the first grand-baby on my husband's side and the second on my side (of many to follow). Needless to say, there was not much in competition. Flash-forward one and a half year and one miscarriage later, he remained the center of my world. After the loss of my second baby (as a rebound) we (I) had decided to get a puppy in which my son had named. Over the next week the puppy, Coco, had received a little extra attention from strangers and family members than my son Anthony. My then 18 month old had a very hard time dealing with the fact that he had to share his spotlight. It was that exact experience when I realized we were in for it when the time came for baby number two. About two weeks after we had purchased the puppy, and unbeknownst to myself and my husband, I had learned that I was about 10 weeks pregnant!
And so it began......................
Maybe it was poor timing, or maybe I should have skipped on the puppy, because I cannot even begin to explain the hardship and pain that became between me and my first born child. As my pregnancy with Aryanna became more real to Anthony, he became more out of control. I swear to you that the "terrible two's" hit my son full force during my pregnancy and the first 6 months of Aryanna's life worse than I had ever seen in a child. Now I know that EVERY mother has probably declared that at one time or another- but just trust me when I say I spent many countless nights crying and blaming myself. I felt like I betrayed him.
After Aryanna was born he wanted absolutely nothing to do with her and acted up every chance he had. He did anything for attention- and he did not care if the attention was good or bad as long as he was getting some. He started hitting, crying and throwing fits for no reason whatsoever. I did what all the "experts" suggested to get over this jealousy hump: I'd encourage him to help with his little sister- he'd pitch a fit. I spent extra time with him by going on mommy dates- he'd act up when we got home. I did everything under the sun and even took some parenting classes and read numerous parenting books. You know what worked? Patience and time.
I promised myself that I would let nature takes it course and allow him to accept her on his terms. I only preached that one day Aryanna will be very special to him.
Finally that day came when she was just under 1 year old. They began to play- together. They shared- together (well, for the most part- let's not go crazy!). They laugh all the time. And yes they have their sibling squabbles- but at least it's together! Finally I felt as though there was a break through. Then I got pregnant again........
This time I was especially nervous. I thought for sure that I would start from square one: the obnoxious behavior for attention, ignoring of the baby, always angry and on and on and on. For nine long months these thoughts rolled in the back of my head while I watch a little boy blossom in front of me. He began to mature (slowly).
My third child, Gavin, was born about a little over 7 months ago. We have had our ups and downs with some aspects of attention-grabbing behavior, but nothing like it was the first time. Gavin is absolutely in love with his older brother, Anthony- and Anthony is always a BIG help to his little bro. This time around he wants to help! He loves to make his little brother and sister laugh and is very protective of them.
I by no means am a parenting expert, but I can suggest this to you: you know your child. If he feels pressured if you ask him for help or force him to accept a younger sibling take a step back- especially if you have/had a difficult toddler like Anthony was. I know this is hard to swallow, but time, patience and a little extra love will get you through this. To this day I can tell when Anthony needs a little extra love and feels like he is lost in the mix. I try to do a little something special WITH him. Whether it be going to see a movie, playing a board game just the two of us, or hopping around in a creek (tomboy at heart) it is a time in which I can show him that he is still very special to me and that because he is the "Big Brother" he can do some things that babies cannot do. I am very proud of his acceptance to change today, and look forward to watching the three of them growing up- together.