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Bringing Home A Second Baby - Tips From Real Dads Part II

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:20pm

This is the second part of a three part series about bringing home a second baby. Part two focuses on the first meeting between the two children and things dads can do to help while your wife is in the hospital. If you missed it, you can check out the first part of the series here .

I recruited 3 other dad bloggers to share their thoughts, tips and advice about what to do when you bring home a second baby. I asked Chris from DadOfDivas.blogspot.com , Elliott from 21stCenturyDad.com and Jeff from Daddy’sToolbox.com to offer their advice on things dads can do to help make the transition a little bit easier.

Stay tuned for the third and final part of the series.

From Elliott, author of 21st Century Dad:

The Expanding Belly and My Expanding Heart

The one thing we did differently than most parents was elect to use a birth center instead of the hospital. They hosted childbirth education classes weekly, and we got to meet all the midwives there. We were encouraged to select one to attend the birth, but you never know if she’ll be available.

We got to know all of them so we would be equally comfortable no matter who attended. There wasn’t an OB/GYN there looking for a reason to do an “emergency” c-section, so he could make his dinner plans for that evening. However, the birth center we chose has an OB on staff in case there is a true emergency.

During the pregnancy, I spent as much time as I could talking to other fathers. My friend Dan was especially helpful. It was my first child, but my wife’s second. We spent many nights, conjecturing what this little girl’s personality would be like, the things we’d do together as a family, and talking to the baby. The cats were also giving Renee extra attention. I surmised that they could hear the baby’s heartbeat.

We scoured Craigslist and the local Freesource and Freecycle groups for baby items. Check out my post: { How To Prepare For A Baby’s Arrival On A Budget }.The baby was very real to me. Just thinking about how much I already loved my unborn child brought me to tears on a regular basis.

From Chris, author of Dad of Divas:

This is a pivotal time for your child and for your family so it is very important to make sure that you set up systematically. I know this was a scary thing for Diva-J and she was nervous to meet her sister, but excited to see Mom, as she definitely was missing her. In our home we were lucky to have my mother visiting at the time to help out, which kept Diva-J busy.

We tried a few things with Diva-J with the birth of our second daughter. As mentioned in my previous post, we tried to make sure that Diva-J was involved and interested in the birth of her sister throughout the entire 9 months. One of the things that we decided to do was allow Diva-J to purchase a “friend” (a type of hand-held blanket) for her sister that she could give her on her first meeting. The only challenge with this was that after she picked it she wanted it for herself.

Once we were able to again explain it to her that it was for her sister we ended up hiding it (out of site, out of mind) and right after the birth of Diva-PJ, I ended up wrapping it up and had it ready for Diva-J to bring with her the day of the BIG meeting.

One the day that Diva-J came to meet her sister, I think at first she was more interested in seeing Mommy than seeing her sister, but once that novelty wore off here eyes became enamored with watching her sister. She seemed to enjoy talking to Diva-PJ and giving her kisses. Little did she know what would happen once Diva-PJ came home and she was not the center of attention (but that is for our next installment).

Outside of the first meeting of the kids, I also found it important to be present in the hospital as much as I could. I was lucky with the fact that my mother flew up to be with us for Diva-PJ’s birth and thus I could be at the hospital a bit more than I normally would have been able to as we do not have much in the sense of baby sitters as of yet for our Divas. Basically catering to the need of Mom, giving her time to rest in the hospital, as she will need her strength and her wits once she goes home.

One final thought is that you cannot be afraid to let your new baby go to the nursery at the hospital. With Diva-J we were very concerned about this, and found that Mom’s overall rest (and sanity) was put to the test with a baby that did not like to sleep through the night. Giving Mom a break and putting the new baby in the nursery for a few hours may be all that it takes to allow some one on one time or a nap to occur to re-energize for the task ahead.

From Jeff, author of Daddy’s Toolbox:

The first time I took our son to visit Mommy and his little sister in the hospital was an exciting time for all! Maybe I’m unlike most Dads and my wife is unlike most Moms, because after baby #2 was born I was sent home to sleep while my wife slept in the hospital. She had given birth at 4am so we were both exhausted. Our son was staying with Mama and Papa. I went over around 10am and picked them all up and headed down for our “First Family Get Together”.

My little boy was overly excited and really wanted to see his Mommy and new baby sister. I think we even bought him a new toy and a BLUE balloon so he would be excited about that while everyone wanted to hold and see our daughter. You don’t want the firstborn to feel like they are not getting the attention like they did just the day before.

Some advice to give for the first few days would be to make sure you get all the sleep you can. It will be the last time you get a full night’s rest — ever. Or at least that is true in for me over the past four years. Having had both of our children 22 months apart is great, they play very well together (most of the time), but it also brings some nighttime issues to the house because you’re dealing with sleep deprivation from having the new baby but also have to tend to the first-born’s nighttime awakenings for potty breaks, “I need water”, “I’m scared” and the hundreds of other issues that occur at nighttime.

Big brother helping out

A major hurdle to cross is the fact that Mommy CANNOT lift your first born child anymore — at least for a month or so. (So since Mommy can’t lift, maybe have your first born take care of the lifting, see photo!) This was a huge hurdle for us as a 22 month old wants his mother!! I think my wife gave up the “I can’t life anything” after two weeks. It’s just not feasible when you have a son (or daughter) asking to be held. She would pick him up so he could sit on her lap or the couch while she breast fed our newborn.

We raised our son to want to be around his sister from the time she was brought home. Never neglect the first child because you have to tend to the baby, instead, always include them in EVERYTHING you do with the baby.

This makes your first child learn about responsibility, love, compassion and a ton of other great traits! But the best reason to include them in helping is the smile on their face when they feel like “I’m the big brother!”

He is still that way after two years, wants to protect her, make sure his friends are quiet in our house while his sister is napping, and helps her to learn how to do things like climb up and down the stairs and feed herself.

That is a HUGE plus for parents with second children. Let me tell you, you won’t believe how FAST they learn to do things!! The first born LOVES to be a teacher!

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