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As I sat in the exam room of my 3 year old’s Pediatrician, I was encouraged by his words.
“You can expect her to exhibit some sibling jealousy when the new baby arrives, but she should get over it in about 3 months.”
3 months? I could totally handle that. I had handled 3 months of morning sickness. 3 months of the dreaded 3rd trimester. 3 months is nada, thought my naive self.
So I braced myself for having a second baby. I helped my daughter bond with her unborn sister as much as possible because I did not want to deal with sibling jealousy. And when my 3 year old never exhibited even the slightest tendency toward jealous rage, I thought I had won the transition to two children jackpot.
I was rocking mothering, I thought.
But every good thing must come to an end. Ever heard of the honeymoon phase? How about the baby honeymoon phase? I mean, babies basically eat and sleep (and don’t forget poop, lots of poop) for the first 3 months.
What’s to be jealous of in the first 3 months?
In my opinion, the biggest life-altering change when having a second baby doesn’t happen at baby’s birth. Oh no. It happens around the age of 3 months old. Your sweet, sleepy, milk-drunk baby goes from sweet, drowsy oblivion to I-don’t-wanna-close-my-eyes-’cause-I-might-miss-something in the blink of an eye.
After 3 months, jealousy was just beginning. Thanks a lot, Doc.
Over the next 9 months (and beyond, let’s be honest), jealousy reared its big, ugly head over and over and over. When I least expected it, there it was, mocking me. I’m still here, mama. We were in a constant ebb and flow of envy.
Over the next 9 months, the baby started to demand attention. She craved eye contact.
And don’t forget the plethora of exciting firsts. Baby rolls over? YAY, Mommy and Daddy are elated. Baby crawls? Speaks? Takes first steps? Claps? Smiles? Everything is cause for celebration. We jump up and down, we clap and we cry tears of joy.
All while the child who was our whole world up until then is looking on.
Can we blame our older child’s who is probably thinking, “Wow, having a baby sister sucks”? Of course not.
In my experience, the conversion to “big” sister caused her to reconnect with her baby self.
Her favorite game became “the baby game’”. She would pretend to be a baby. I would have to give her the pacifier (which insulted her as an infant), burp her, put her down for a nap, and change her diaper. She played in the bouncy seat, the exersaucer, the crib, reliving her babyhood one discarded toy at a time.
Now, after a year, each day they play more, hug more, kiss more and interact more. The sibling jealousy won’t last forever. But don’t be fooled when your older child is acting completely unfazed by the new baby.
It’s just the baby honeymoon phase.
How did having a second baby change your older child?