Jo and her firstborn Reuben

To My Firstborn- Please Don’t Feel Left Out; You’re Still My Boy!

10th January 2017

When you have a baby you know your life is going to change, but are you really prepared for it?
Were you shocked by the instant love, the bonds you grow and your completely new outlook on just about everything? I know I was.

My Firstborn

Reuben came into our lives and everything changed, and it all happened so fast.
The overwhelming sense of worry because suddenly we’re the ones responsible for this little boy, our firstborn child.
Everything he needs, we have to do for him. He is completely dependant on us!

He grew so quickly (as all babies do) and before we knew it, he turned into an independent and head strong three year old!
We have such a great bond; all three of us.

Then we decided we wanted to have another baby. Another baby would give Reuben a sibling and complete our family.
We were naive enough to believe that a baby would slot right into our family life, nothing would change other than we would be four.

We’re Having a Baby!

A few months later we were lucky enough to have a positive test. We agreed not to mention anything to Reuben until after the scan and then we would tell him. We wanted to make sure everything was OK before we started talking babies, after all, if it isn’t how would you tell a (then) two year old

When we told him, he didn’t seem very interested. Maybe it was the way we delivered it to him.
Sam had promised him ‘something special’ and whilst a baby is special he wanted cake. He was two, so could blame him.

Sam and I agreed that Reuben should be included in everything.
He needed to see that a new baby wasn’t going to replace him or change our love for him; and so he came to every anti-natal appointment and every scan. The midwives loved him and would let him help to find the baby’s heartbeat.
He watched me grow and he became so excited; he was going to be a big brother. When I was tired he was happy to cuddle up to me and my bump. When the baby moved and he felt it, he would beam. I knew we were going to be OK.

As my due date approached we spoke to him about how Mummy would need to go to hospital soon so that Jessica could be born. That he would be with Nana and Grandad. We didn’t want him to be scared or worry.

Welcome Baby.

Reuben was with us at my parents the day I went into labour and he wouldn’t leave my side. He became protective and very clingy. I suppose he knew things were changing.

When my waters broke he was going to bed; and as my contractions were painful we were then going to go to the hospital.

From the time he was born I have always sang him “hush little baby” before bed and he wanted me to sing it. I knew I had to sing it to him, if I didn’t then things were already changing. He needed to know nothing was going to change.
I had a contraction and knew I had less than two minutes before another one came, but somehow I managed to sing him that nursery rhyme. He went to bed and we went to the hospital.

The next day Sam brought him to the hospital to see me and Jessica.
He hugged me and realised I had no bump, turned to the cot and beamed. He had his sister. I was so happy to see Reuben, my firstborn, take to Jessica, the new addition, so well.

Reuben meeting Jessica

Time to go Home

I was glad when it was time to come home. I wanted us to bond as a four.

Those first two weeks were hard for him, and for me. Our relationship had changed. Not in a bad way, it was just, different. I could feel it and I knew he could too.

Jessica was breastfeeding every two to three hours but each feed was taking anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour. I was struggling to get comfortable and she was struggling to latch correctly.
Reuben would want to play but I was feeding, or was tired, and I still couldn’t get on the floor. I would cuddle with him when I could and read him stories but he started asking Daddy more and less of Mummy; Mummy was busy.

Reuben’s bedtime would come round and Jessica would want feeding.
I would say that I would go up to sing to him after I had finished feeding Jessica. And I did but by that time he would often be asleep. He wasn’t getting his nursery rhyme and I wasn’t getting time with him. He was sad, and I was sad.

It upset him but it crushed me. I had been naive, I had thought that everything would be the same but it wasn’t.

We Had Changed.

One bedtime that Jessica didn’t want feeding I took Reuben to bed. He chose a book for us to read but then he told me he didn’t want me to read. He wanted Daddy.
I burst into tears, I couldn’t help it. He was sad that I was crying and I cried more that I had made him sad.
I did read the story to him in the end and sing to him as I normally would have, but that had hurt me like nothing had hurt me before.

Eventually, after two weeks it was time for Sam to go back to work, time for us to get some kind of routine.
Things got harder, after all now there was just me. Jessica still needed feeding but Reuben needed me more now that Daddy wasn’t there.

New Routines, Find our Feet.

I’m not going to lie, we are still fumbling through, making it work but I can tell that sometimes he longs for it to be just us two again.
When he throws himself into my lap because Jessica is crying so that he has a cuddle, when he cries for no apparent reason when I’m feeding Jessica. Those are the times that it is hardest. But we will get there, each day it gets a bit easier.

I have quickly realised that it’s OK to admit that it’s hard. It’s OK to feel like I’m struggling.
Parenting is hard. Juggling routines is hard. Change is hard.

Doing My Best

I want him to know that no matter what, he is still my boy and my firstborn. We are still the same and I love him dearly.
I want him to know that it will only be a short while until Jessica isn’t so dependant on me, when she starts to take a bottle then we can have some time on our own, just the two of us.

I do tell him but at the minute it’s just words, he doesn’t understand, he’s three.

So for now, we fumble through. I tear myself in two. I feel guilty.
Guilty he doesn’t get the same attention he is used to.
Guilty that I’m tired.
Just guilty.

It wont last forever. I know that.
So for now I hug him as hard as I can whenever I can and tell him I love him.
I can only hope he isn’t feeling left out.
I can only hope he will understand that I’ve done my best.

(Guest Post for Mimi Rose and Me Motherhood Mondays Series)

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