Our son, Ben, was just over a year old when my husband and I decided to try for a second child. This second pregnancy happened just like the first: As soon as we started trying, we found out we were pregnant with baby Elizabeth.
I wasn’t sure Ben would understand what a new baby meant at such a young age. He was used to being an only child and getting all of our attention. Plus, he was practically still a baby himself.
So we waited until my belly started getting larger to mention the “B” word. Ben was about 16 months old when we told him that a baby was growing in Mommy’s belly. We explained that soon, he would be a big brother, and that would come with a lot of big responsibilities. “When the baby comes, you’ll have to be gentle with her,” we told him. “You’ll have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. And if the baby wants to play with your toys, you’ll need to share with her.”
Even though we talked to Ben about the new baby all the time and read books together on being a big brother, he showed zero interest. I was worried that all our messages weren’t getting through. What if Ben was jealous when the second baby came? What if he was angry at us or at her for changing our family structure?
A couple days after I gave birth, my husband, Jim, brought Ben to the hospital to meet his little sister. Ben was cautious and scared. He seemed to understand that she was the new baby we had been talking about all this time, but he still didn’t show much interest in her.
That is, until a few days later. We had been adjusting to our new life with baby Elizabeth. Ben was spending some time with me and the baby when he looked up and told me, “Mommy, you have to be quiet around the baby.”
“Yes, Ben, that’s right,” I said, smiling.
“You have to be careful with the baby, Mommy,” he told me.
“You’re right, Ben. You’re such a good big brother.”
Hearing Ben repeat what we had been telling him for months made my heart swell. It was such a relief to know that he had been learning how to be a big brother all along.