savoring*

ben_stunner_shades.jpg
Ben in his stunnah shades, Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi
andrea_ben_stunner_shades.jpg
me and Ben Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

To quote some vintage letters from our kitchen, this is Ben and I savoring our last weeks (or maybe days?) as a family of three. I’ve been feeling closer all the time, and as each day approaches, Ben gets a bit more clingy. He has never been a clingy guy so this is a tender time… on a conscious level, he is excited about being a big brother, but sub-consciously he is acting out in various ways (wanting to sleep with us in the middle of the night, etc.) He definitely senses imminent change on the horizon.

I’ve heard some good ideas about how to celebrate the baby’s arrival with Ben, but would love to hear what worked best for you! I’m already planning to give Ben a little gift from the baby and have Ben give his brother a gift as well. I also heard that a little birthday party where Ben gets a cupcake wouldn’t hurt too. 😉

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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35 Comments

  1. Emily K.

    My oldest son was only 20 months when his brother came along, but he sensed the imminent change and got clingy as well. I remember that I was so worried about how my toddler would feel about things, that I honestly didn’t bond with my newborn for a few days (weeks?) Kind of sad when I think about that now, but rest assured we are all quite in love with each other now! (My boys are 8 and 10.) I did one thing that helped – I kept my bedtime ritual with Child #1 the same, as much as I could. For us, that was the most special time of day, when I would bathe him and sing to him and help him get into jammies, etc. I tried hard to work around that in any way I could, because I felt that it was important, just to keep him grounded in spite of all the change and chaos. And… there’s no joy like watching your little child love on a new sibling. Such a sweet thing. Best wishes.

  2. carey

    I think a neat idea (maybe even before the baby is born because once baby is there people naturally want to see baby) is to have a “big bro’ ” party where Ben’s celebrated…it could be reaalllly cool – he could draw invitations to his/our friends – people come with something they want to share with him – a game one of their siblings taught them. ie an old game of “trouble” – a piece of fabric to draw on with fabric markers – and then added to back of another fabric for ben’s blanket for little sibling. Ben could tape some of his coolest moves for baby to go on a dvd movie – ie how to dance cool when you’re older, best places in your neighborhood to visit as a kid…kind of like a kid’s time capsule for their sibling. A special cape (who doesn’t need a cape!? An old pillowcase is great and then sew on ribbon or cut holes in corners and tie on). Pillow fight lessons.
    Imagine how much fun grown adults would have coming to a party like that?! It could be an easygoing affair – takeout pizza or homemade mac-cheese casserole, friends big and small…
    title for party: Party For More – Lessons Shared on the Fun of Siblings…haha – just don’t share how to give snake bites.
    oh and….
    Cake is a necessity of course (or cupcakes) -pictures taken.
    hope this helps. 😉

  3. amy

    When my daughter was born, my boys, then 3 and 2, took pictures of themselves and taped them to the bassinet in the hospital so their baby sister “would know” what her big brothers looked like–the pictures faced in, toward the baby. They also wrote her a note with their names on it and it said “Hi, I am your big brother and I love you!” We made extra footprints and gave them to the boys as a present from the baby. They loved showing this at school and to family and friends. Enjoy! I love all three bambinos for the special beings they each are, but the happiest moments of my life are the three delighting in one another!

  4. robyn

    while i don’t have kids of my own (yet), i’ve watched several other friends bring multiple kiddos into their homes. one thing i’ve seen that helps is to use some of that time when people show up to coo over the new babe to spend “ben and mom” time. take just him to the park or out for ice cream, or even just a walk around the block or a snuggle in bed. make sure he knows he’ll still get plenty of personal time with you!

  5. Victoria Winters

    Ooh! I’ll have to pay attention to the ideas, as I’ll have to use them in May! 🙂

  6. mary

    my daughter was 4 when my son came along and when someone came to visit the new baby and brought gifts for the new baby we asked that they always greet and gush over our daughter first and if they brought a gift to please remember to bring something for her. (we made sure they understood that it does not have to be any big gift…just something)my daughter has just grat from college and my son just left and they have been close all their lives!!! enjoy!!! i miss them and this time sooo much!!!

  7. yileen

    Am excited for your new arrival! All the best and I’m sure the little guy will be the cutest one ever!

  8. sparkyd

    I don’t have any words of wisdom because we didn’t really do anything extra special between big and little brother (other than make a big deal out of him being a big brother and holding the baby and trying to still pay attention to older bro etc). It turned out fine. I just wanted to comment to say that you and Ben are both beautiful. So photogenic. Can’t wait to see the little one.

  9. Kristen

    I don’t have any great ideas for you, but I am just so excited for you and had to say so! Savor or as we would say/spell it in Canada, savour is a word that I need to think more about right now as my maternity leave is almost over. Thanks!

  10. Laura

    My oldest and I made a “happy big brother” and “welcome to the world” cake. He loved it.

  11. Stacy (Mama-Om)

    The thing that came to mind is to give all of yourselves plenty of time and space to adjust. I remember, very vividly, in the days/weeks after Mica arrived, that Orlando’s behavior seemed wild and out of control. At the time, I didn’t have any perspective on it all, but looking back, I can see that he was probably exhausted, as we all were. There was no overt sibling jealousy, so it was difficult to relate directly to the baby, but I can see now how Orlando’s hyperactivity was a direct result.
    So, give yourselves time… Also, I wish I had had more ways of helping ground and center myself so I could help Orlando a bit more. Other ideas… have as much help as you can, people to bring meals, help at home, etc., so you can focus on yourself and your kids.
    And, be sure to let their relationship develop however Ben wants it to… I remember on Mica’s first night in the world, Orlando sang songs to him out of the bird identification book (his favorite book at the time) for what seemed like hours. Orlando intuitively understood it was a special occasion and he found his own way to connect and honor that. But each child is different… Ben might want more time before doing something like that, and he might do something totally different that doesn’t overtly seem celebratory but perhaps is in his own mind.
    And, one thing I wish I had done more of is asking/inviting Orlando to help with the baby. Not forcing it, but including him. Also, I remember he used to take the baby’s legs and lift them and I thought he was being so rough and mean, and eventually I realized he was imitating me when I lifted Mica’s legs to change a diaper… so I guess what I’m saying is I wish I had been able to assume good intent more in Orlando. Their imitations of us can be so artless that it took me awhile to realize that he really just wanted to connect with the baby.
    Wow. I guess I had a lot to say about this topic. 🙂 As always, please know this is just my own story, and I share it in hopes that you’ll take whatever you need from it.
    Blessings,
    Stacy

  12. kristine

    I don’t have kids but I will tell you this – when my twin nieces were born my nephew went through a brief stage of being clingy. This period of time was fairly smooth however because his dad stepped in and spent extra time with him doing ‘big boy things’ and my nephew suddenly took great pride in his role as the big brother.
    A few friends have given their kids t-shirts that say big brother or big sister to wear after the baby arrives home. As long as he is secure in that fact that he’s loved just as much as ever, he’ll be fine.

  13. Michelle Shopped

    been checking almost daily — i just have this feeling you’ll be a little early? or maybe that it’s just that the time flew and all of a sudden this little guy’s earth time is imminent…

  14. carole loeffler

    I only have one child, so I can’t offer advice for the transition to a bigger family. What I can share though is the birthday tradition in my family – whenever it was my sisters birthday I got a small gift from my parents (and vice versa for her). It wasn’t anything big – I can remember when I was about 12 or so I got a mug with my name on it. I remembered the feeling I got more than the gift itself. I felt that I was important too and that even though it wasn’t my birthday that my parents loved and cared about me just as much.
    Some people think it is materialistic to practice this – but I think it has implications way beyond that. It is about feeling valued, loved, cared for and in general – not forgotten about.

  15. nina

    That big brother party sounds like fun! We also do the birthday thing where the un-birthday sibling gets a small gift also. Then again, we celebrate half birthdays–any excuse for cake! I remember trying to include him in everything. Most visitors would bring him a gift also, but for those who didn’t I would have him open the present and see if he would like to help his baby sister with it, i.e. put it away in her drawer or add it to her crib or something. I also tried to give him at least 20 to 30 minutes a day of one-on-one. Sometimes this would mean leaving dad or a visiting friend with the baby while we stepped out for a walk. We often joke that they had their first fight on the way home from the hospital. We had put the infant carseat in the middle of the backseat and moved his over. The first thing he said when he got in the car: “She’s sitting in my spot.” And, of course, she begain wailing as if on cue. So you might want to move Ben’s carseat over if you haven’t already!
    This is so exciting — can’t wait to “meet” the newest family member here!

  16. Elizabeth

    It’s such an interesting time to be celebrating, savoring and at times crying. I remember when my son was born, we had read some books about being a “big sister” to my daughter. We had moved her car seat well before my due date so we could all adjust to the new configuration. I had bought gifts for each of them- including a shirt that read “Big Sister”. But honestly, nothing really prepared me for the week my husband went back to work and I was home alone with both kids. It took us a bit to find our groove, but we did. My daughter and I developed a code word- which we still use today- so that I know she’s had enough and needs some one on one time. It has helped, especially during difficult transition periods. I also made sure we had a number of crafting activities, new books, etc. Things to keep us occupied while her brother was sleeping and we had alone time. Best of luck!!

  17. Anna

    What a sweet, tender time! For some big brothers and sisters, the first week or two with a new baby is exciting~ and then the novelty wears off and they’re ready for the baby to go back to wherever it came from. 🙂 It’s not uncommon, and I just bring it up because it doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything “wrong”~ it often comes up about the time when the parents are also hitting a wall with lack of sleep, etc. and I always want to reassure new mamas and papas that in the big picture, all is well. I totally echo those who have mentioned keeping as many little shared rituals and routines as possible, and taking any opportunities for one-on-one snuggle and play time. 🙂 Blessings~

  18. kazari

    This happened last year to a friend – and I think Owen was the same age as Ben. There was some acting out, and then grandma kept saying how the baby was Owen’s baby, and he had to keep her safe…
    from then on, everyone asked Owen’s permission to cuddle the baby, and he became Lily’s protector. He LOVES it.
    And he will tell any grown up when he thinks lily is tired or thirsty or needs to be sung to. And he loves singing to her.

  19. amber@SAHM's musings

    I haven’t read through the comments so I might be rehashing, besides the gifts we let our son be part of the preparations :painting & decorating baby’s new room, picking out a special lovey (toy) for baby which was just like his favorite bear but pink, letting him hold his new sis, matching big brother/little sister t-shirts. I made a really big deal about being mommy’s helper and putting diapers where he could bring the to me. My son was 3 1/2 so he loved being a helper. We were also blessed to have friends and family shower him with gifts too when they brought the baby something.

  20. Dr. S

    My mom tells me that when my little brother was born (just before I was three), they made sure to teach me how to hold a brand-new newborn ahead of time, and then when we brought him home, I hopped up on the couch with the pillow they’d taught me to support him with and said, “Now let me have my baby brother” or something like that. We have a picture of me, tiny, holding my little brother, tinier, on my lap, with no one hovering over me–just trusting me to follow the directions they’d taught me before. And then apparently the first couple of nights when he woke up and needed to be fed, I woke up too and asked for a drink, so while my mother fed him, my father grabbed me a glass of milk so that I’d know what was up. But since they then made me brush my teeth afterwards, I lost interest in a couple of days and started sleeping right through his feedings. In other words, I think they just tried to involve me all the time and to make sure that I knew that his arrival didn’t mean that I wasn’t important anymore. They’ve always done a stellar job of valuing each of us for who we are and not comparing us to one another, and that started right away when he was born. (It helps that we couldn’t look much more different–he’s a bright-orange redhead and I’m a brunette all the way, and we were also very different in temperament and needs as babies, and all the way up.)

  21. Puanani

    Well, when my girl was 2.5, her brother was born. She was clingy and fussy and forgot how to potty train. When the midwife came over and I told her what was happening, she said the baby would be here in a week. He was. My daughter was in the room when he emerged from the water(water birth) and stated, “I thought you were having a baby.” And walked out. After everyone was cleaned up, new babe sleeping peacefully in his basket, I could see my daughter peering into the basket. “Aww, sweet.” I thought. Then she looked both ways, didn’t see me down the hall, lifted her sweet toddler hand and slapped her new brother in the face. I have no advice. Save for the fact that they are 17 and 20 and haven’t killed each other yet…

  22. April

    When Henry was born, he gave his sister a wonderful little white bunny from Imagine Childhood and it has become her most beloved toy. I won’t lie, the first couple of weeks were hard for her and it completely broke my heart to see her behavior change. I think the hardest part for her was that I was physically unavailable. But we found our way! Mostly, we just kept reaching out to her. We would cuddle while I was nursing and I would read to her. She went to the zoo with her dad a lot and kept her normal preschool routine. And now, a year later, it’s almost like it has always been the four of us!

  23. Krista

    I wish I could help you out, but my boys are 7 years apart. There was still a little anxiety, but not anything like it could have been if they were closer in age.

  24. bk

    Hi SuperAndrea!!
    Not sure if you’re already in the middle of labour or just on a lighter schedule…
    Sent you an email re sponsorship…
    Regards, BK

  25. Elizabet

    My 2.5 year old gave her new sister a blanket when she was born, and they both love it. It remains very special for both of them.
    My newborn gave her sister a bike. Which we brought to the hospital, because if baby brought it from within, it would be at the hospital! She rode it out.
    And bring a camera for the first time Ben sees his sibling. One of my favorite photos ever is that shot.
    Goodluck!

  26. Elizabeth

    I thought of something else… when my 2.5 year old was jealous of things like breast feeding etc. I always reminded her that SHE was old enough to eat icecream, and her baby sister could ONLY eat mommy’s milk. She loved that.
    Speaking of feeding, my 2.5 year old expressed much interest in my breast milk, so one day I just let her try a sip – she hated it and that was that. She likes that she gets icecream.
    🙂

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  28. Chase

    So not really on the same topic as your post, but I found this today and I just can’t resist sharing. Mrs. Agathe’s dishwasher quit working so she called a repairman. Since she had to go to work the next day, she told him, “I’ll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I’ll mail you the check. Oh, and by the way…don’t worry about my Doberman. He won’t bother you. But, whatever you do, do NOT under ANY circumstances talk to my parrot!” When the repairman arrived at Mrs. Agathe’s apartment the next day, he discovered the biggest and meanest looking Doberman he had ever seen. But just as she had said, the dog simply laid there on the carpet, watching the repairman go about his business. However, the whole time the parrot drove him nuts with his incessant cursing, yelling and name-calling. Finally the repairman couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled, “Shut up, you stupid ugly bird!” To which the parrot replied, “Get him, Spike!”

  29. eastlandgrl

    interesting, thanks

  30. maquiavelo

    nice read, keep up the good work

  31. hannah

    In my house we celebrated birthdays like they were going out of style. Each and every one of them – whether a birthday or unbirthday (it was an unbirthday if it was someone else’s birthday you were partaking in). This meant that my sister and I both received gifts on each others birthday – and usually things we could play together with, or be creative with. We also spent a lot of time making each other special things, so the emphasis was more on sharing something special, then the material items. Before my sister was born, my mom and I baked her a cake – which quickly went in the freezer, to be pulled out the MINUTE my sister came home from the hospital, cards were made and a large party was thrown shortly after she had come home, that I had been a part of planning. Birthdays were just as much about having a special day all your own, as they were celebrating having the birthday girl in the world. Any family additions are gifts of the long term variety, and we never saw it any differently. My mom also spent a lot of time prepping me for the activities I could do with my tiny sister when she was first born, like snuggling, reading, and sharing music. We also had a tradition she referred to as “mama love days” These started when my sister was born, to make sure I knew that no matter how hard it was to share my parents, I could always request “mama love days” where I could pick a shared activity, etc and have special time together. (these days still exist in one form or another 22 years later)
    We also have scrap books from our first year – As a kiddo, I LOVED mine, and liked to look at it before I went to bed (it was a play on the Night before christmas – with pictures of everyone getting ready for my birth) When my sister was born, My mom and I made her a book of all of the people that were so excited to meet her. It was a really special thing that I could share with her, and help to feel connected.
    My parents always talked to me about important things as if I was adult enough to understand and handle the situations, I recognized this and appreciated this as a child. I knew what was going on, and I knew what my place was in it, because rather then wait to “figure these things out” my parents addressed them head on. I think this more than anything helped me with the transitions of having a new baby in the house, becoming a big sister, and having a little sister.
    As a side note, I have read your blog for a few years now, and while it seems strange as I have never met you, I feel as though you have shared enough of your life, joys and struggles to feel as if I know you. I remember tears welling up when Ben was born. The same tears came when you announced you were expecting your second. You have an amazingly beautiful family, it can only get better and I can’t wait to hear how it all turns out.
    ps. my mom was right, my sister is still my best friend in the whole world. You are giving Ben the best birthday gift EVER. even if hes a little unsure of it right now

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  33. Carole

    Hi Andrea! 🙂
    I suggest that you ask people ahead of time (relatives and friends) to make an effort to greet Ben first when they come over to visit, to really make time to look him in the eye and so forth rather than rush by him to you and the baby. It might be hard for them, but so worth it in terms of how Ben will feel about it all.
    Best, best, best wishes!!!
    Carole

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