My preschooler knew I was pregnant long before I planned to tell her. I’d been waiting to pass the genetic screening before I rocked my kid’s world, yet when I was only five weeks along, she threw her arms around me, looked deeply into my eyes and implored, “Mummy, what are you going to name your baby?”
Kids and animals, right? They know things, like when an earthquake is coming, if there’s a ghost present, and whether mum is smuggling an embryo.
I assumed my little psychic would be thrilled about our baby news. For at least a year, she’d been requesting a sibling — specifically, a little sister. Unfortunately, I’d been having trouble conceiving, and her inquiries hurt my heart. I wanted to deliver so badly (pun intended). So once I finally got pregnant — with a girl, as ordered — I thought I was going to win Mum of the Year. Not so fast.
That old adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” seems to have been written for my 4-year-old, who has very mixed feelings about welcoming a new addition.
Sometimes she kisses my belly, murmuring “I love you, little baby.”
Other times she “accidentally” jumps on my bump. (That ain’t no trampoline, kid.)
When we’re shopping, she’ll notice teeny baby clothes and want desperately to buy them for little sister.
But when I unpacked her old clothes to take inventory, she squeezed herself into a size 1 dress, exclaiming, “Mummy, this still fits me. It’s mine! Mine!”
One day, she’s promising to be the best big sister ever, asking if she can change nappies, shake rattles, help burp, and please, please, please be allowed to carry the baby up the stairs by herself? (Yes, yes, yes and a big fat NO.)
But the next day, she’s changed her tune, lamenting, “I don’t want the baby anymore.” When I look perplexed, she helpfully suggests, “Just put her in the closet, Mummy.” (NOTE TO SELF: Install lock on baby’s door.)
All my daughter needs now are some daisies so she can pluck the petals while chanting, “I love her, I love her not.”
Clearly, she’s ambivalent, but that’s normal, I think? Even though she’s excited, she’s just old enough to realise that things are going to change around here, possibly in ways that don’t benefit her. I’m trying to prepare her the best I can. We read stories about new babies. We talk about plans for the birth. I’ve even brought her to visit friends’ newborns so she can see what they’re really like — adorable yet boring in their helplessness, unless you find baby vomit exciting (she doesn’t).
I’m staying optimistic. Maybe by exploring her negative feelings now, my daughter will be more ready to embrace the baby when she’s born. Just not too tightly. Wait, I think you’re smothering her…
Wish me luck.