If you read my birth story, you may have noticed that Edie was not only present for her sister's arrival--she played a huge role in it. Her hand was on my back as I pushed and she helped Daniel cut the cord. Edie was two years and seven months old when Reed was born, and throughout the course of my pregnancy I received a lot of questions and concerns about my plans to have her in attendance. Won't she freaked out? Isn't she too young for such an experience? Isn't it inappropriate for her to have that type of understanding of where babies come from?
I obviously can't predict the future, but I always responded with, "No, I don't think so."
Toddlers are whole people, too. In my experience parenting Edie, I've learned she is pretty capable of being as responsible as I allow her to be. So I told her I was pregnant as soon as I found out, knowing full well I would have to explain loss if it came to that. Praise the Lord it didn't. Instead I got to explain the female body and its magical ability to grow a human and give birth.
Mamas, you know your kids better than I or anyone else. I'm not claiming this will work for everyone, but adding a couple of simple things into Edie's routine really seemed to give her the understanding she needed to remain calm and confident when her mama was at her most vulnerable.
1. Hello, Baby
This book is so special to me. We read it nightly during the second half of my pregnancy, usually at Edie's request. She had lots of questions in the beginning, but by the end she was explaining to me what was going on and how excited she was to cut sister's cord. The midwife in it is even named Anna (our midwife's name)!
2. Birth Videos
The first birth Edie watched was by Fight for Together, and we started making a weekly tradition of finding a new video or two at the beginning of the third trimester. I think we watched every natural birth on Youtube by the time sister decided to join us! Snuggling on the couch with Edie gave me the opportunity to explain the mechanics of birth, particularly the loud noises mamas tend to make. I was able to tell her the yelling just meant mama was working hard to get baby here, so when she woke up during my labor with Reed she almost immediately understood what was happening and knew how to handle it.
Was your older children present at their baby sibling's birth? How did you prepare them? I knew I wouldn't be able to fully focus if Edie was elsewhere, and I will never forget how we all immediately felt closer as a family after working together to meet sister. I wouldn't change a second of it, even the fact that she now happily tells strangers, "Baby sister came out of mama's 'gina!"