Yes, I once let my daughter watch me pee on a stick. I was worried about her feeling jealous over the possibility of a new sibling, so I made the conscious choice to make her feel like she was part of my entire pregnancy (aside from the conception part, of course.)
When my daughter and I were on one of our mother/daughter vacations in Miami to celebrate her birthday, as we have done every year since she was three, it coincided with the time that I had been trying to get pregnant again. I was beyond excited about the thought of being pregnant, closer to my forties than thirties. “My period is now three days late,” I told my daughter who understood not only what a period is, but what happens when you don’t get your period and are trying to get pregnant.
“It’s time to take a pregnancy test!” It wasn’t exactly on our vacation agenda, but I wanted my daughter, who I fiercely love and protect, to feel like we were equal partners in this pregnancy adventure. I told her it would be “OUR baby.” I worried about my daughter and how she would react to having a sibling after 8 years of being an only child. Because I’ve raised her as a single mother for years, we formed an incredible bond. There is no one – no one – who believes in me more, is more loyal to me or gives better advice (better than any therapist I’ve seen), than my daughter.
My excitement about buying a pregnancy test was infectious and my daughter raced to the CVS across from the hotel with me. We found the aisle where the pregnancy tests were, and I decided to buy four tests (and that was showing restraint! When I was pregnant with Rowan, I bought around a dozen!) After we paid, we went back to our hotel room, where, of course, I couldn’t pee.
My daughter practically force-fed me an entire bottle of water. “Can you pee now? Can you pee now?” she continually asked. I finally had to pee. My daughter came in the washroom with me and watched me as I read the directions to her from the box. She also watched as I took the pregnancy test.
Sure, many would find this off-putting or weird. I mean, I did let my daughter watch me take the test, but I’m unapologetic about that.
“Okay,” I told her. “If there are two lines, that means I’m pregnant! If not, then I’m most likely not.”
My daughter begged to be the first one to find out. “Let’s look at the results at the same time,” I suggested. And when we witnessed those two lines, at the exact same time, we jumped for joy, hugged one another, and I screamed, “I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant!”
“I can’t believe you’re going have another baby,” my daughter said. “I’m so excited! I can’t stand it!”
“No, we’re going to have another baby!” I announced. “It’s going to be OUR baby!”
“Yes! It’s going to be my baby too,” my daughter responded with a new sense of pride.
Like most women who are eager to get pregnant, I took the second test from the box and peed on it, also in front of my daughter. “Just to check to see if I’m still pregnant,” I told her. I couldn’t imagine a better person to have first shared this incredible news.
“I want to try one!” my daughter said. “Can I try peeing on a stick?”
After much deliberation – about 3 seconds – I opened the second box of unused pregnancy tests and let her pee on it. Six seconds later, she announced her test was negative. Judge away, but it was a super fun (and a funny) memorable experience that my daughter I still always laugh about.
I don’t think I was crazy for letting my daughter take a pregnancy test, because it really did set the tone that this new sibling of hers will also be her baby, too, so there was no reason for her to feel left out or jealous.
Many parents don’t know how to tell their children that they are about to have another sibling, or how that sibling would react. Certainly, it’s harder when your first is maybe two or three years old, but involving them in your next pregnancy, I think, is really important. For me, letting my daughter watch me take the test (and then allowing her to take one) was step one on our journey to my daughter feeling like she was part of it all.
The second way I made my daughter feel like her new sibling was really OUR baby, was involving her in the baby-naming process, even though I had already had a name picked out. When I told her that I liked the name Rocco, she fought back hard.
“Mommy! You can’t use that name,’ she told me adamantly. I knew exactly why. “That’s the name one of my stuffies, and that’s what I want to name my baby!’ Just like two spouses, my daughter and I argued over baby names. Not to go all Kardashian on you, but I really did want my children to have names with the same initial as mine. I gave up, or in, and let her keep the name, not because I am a pushover, but because this was ‘OUR’ baby and she should have a say in naming her new sibling.
The third way I made sure my daughter was involved was by pulling her out of school so she could come to my ultrasound appointments and check-ups. Every. Single. One. It’s actually wonderful (and brilliant, if it works) to bring the soon-to-be older sibling to your appointments. The nurses and doctors spend a hell of a lot more time and speak in a language your eight-year-old understands, which made me feel less of an idiot. Plus, my daughter got to see how the baby was progressing. And the nice doctor let my daughter try out the ultrasound wand on my stomach and pointed out the heartbeat. My daughter was ecstatic!
Throughout my pregnancy, I encouraged her to talk and sing to my belly, but mostly, like a dog, she loved laying her head on my rapidly growing baby bump. She practiced class speaking projects to my stomach. And I soaked up what little time we had, just the two of us, not always talking about her soon-to-be new brother, because while she absolutely loved calling my baby bump ‘our baby,’ it was both important to me that she felt part of my entire pregnancy, but also that not everything was about the new baby.
My parents and my son’s father happened to be at my house when I went into early labour and it was my daughter, so excited for ‘our’ baby, who demanded that “SOMEONE TAKE MY MOMMY TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!” It was my daughter’s hand that I held onto, much too tightly, every time a contraction came. But I think she liked going through the pain with me. I truly do.
My daughter didn’t get to meet ‘our baby’ until the next morning since my son was born near midnight, and she was sleeping at my parents. Of course, when she first saw him, she couldn’t wait to kiss and cuddle him.
My daughter also wanted to know who was the first person to hold ‘our’ baby. I told her the doctor and nurses were, but added, “You’re the first KID to hold him,” which made her beam with pride.
Fast forward to now, and my kids are so close they never even argue. I’m kidding. Of course they argue and over stupid things like, “She looked at me!”
But she also is a great older sister, and she sometimes acts like she’s his actual mother. Honestly? It’s weird when your eldest ‘schools’ you when it comes to your parenting, but because I made her super involved from the start – from seeing the first two lines on my pregnancy test – I do listen to her advice. Mostly.
This weekend, my daughter told me that I spoil her brother too much, buy him too many toys and need to discipline him more. All of which is likely true. And, I think, it was the one time, in 6 years, that I told her I was the parent and that Holt needs extra love and attention since his parents just went through a breakup. She didn’t necessarily agree. Still, I wouldn’t trade her ‘motherly’ advice for anything. I may be the parent but my son has two mothers.
Even if one never gave birth but was just along for the entire ride.
Tagged under: younger siblings,watching siblings play,siblings like a parent,expectations on new moms,SIBLING CONFLICT,newborns,mothers and daughters,pregnancy test,newborn baby with family,sibling rivalry,pregnancy news,siblings as inspiration,sibling relationship,celebrating your siblings