The Pregnancy Diaries

Thoughts on Becoming a Family of Five

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Becoming a Family of Five

The Pregnancy Diaries

It’s official!  I’m now rounding the last two weeks (or shorter!) of my third pregnancy and everyone in my family is on “baby watch.” The final countdown has begun, and soon my tight-knit little family of four will expand.  Today, as I write my last “pregnancy diaries” blog, I’d like to share my thoughts on becoming a family of five.

First of all, let me tell you how crazy it is to think about welcoming a new little angel baby into our home and family in just a few short weeks.  We’ve talked and talked and talked about a third baby, been through the longest pregnancy in the history of pregnancies (okay, not the longest…but it certainly feels that way with as sick as I’ve been!), and the kids have been counting down the days since we told them they were going to be a new big sister and big brother (which has been since Christmas).  And that time is now.  It’s HERE.

I wonder what it will be like holding a new baby girl…because we’ve been such a close little family of four for years now.  We have our routines, our roles, our family jobs…and everything has evolved to be a (fairly) well-oiled machine.  We’ve been sleeping for years.  It’s wonderfully exciting (and a little scary!) to think about what dynamic Miss Emma will bring to our family.

The picture I chose for this blog is our annual Taughannock Falls waterfall picture that is taken every year during our family trip to Upstate New York – posed in the same spot since our oldest was a baby. This particular photo was taken just this year, and I was about 7 1/2 months pregnant.  And next year, one of us will be holding our new princess – wow.

I wonder what she will look like – who she will look like. I imagine her a happy baby, with a big slobbery toothless grin.  How could she not be happy???  She is such a little dancer in the womb, and I imagine she will be an active, happy, energetic baby (and kiddo) who is constantly trying to keep up with her big brother and big sister.  I imagine she’ll want to do everything that they do…and more.

I imagine what it will be like to see my two big kids hold their baby sister for the first time.  To see the wonder and excitement in their eyes.  That mom’s big belly really did, in fact, grow them a baby sister. To see them giggle when she grabs their finger for the first time.  And to see how they react and adjust to sharing mom and dad (and their home, their car, their space, their toys, their dog, their time…with their new sister…please God, let this part go well).

What will it be like not to sleep again?  What will it be like to move through my days like a zombie again…but this time with two big kids that need my time, love, attention, and help?  Not to mention carpool chauffeur and homework checker and soccer mom. Hmmmm.

The baby’s nursery is done, and I often find myself sitting in her room, rocking in the big glider (that we saved from the last two kids), and day-dreaming about her arrival.  It’s surreal, looking at all of the tiny clothes again, all of the baby supplies, the endless diapers, the teethers, the tiny socks and hair bows and bibs and binkies…

I catch myself telling people about “the girls,” or “our girls,” and can’t stop smiling.  Because now my husband and I have the responsibility of raising two little girls, and we can’t wait.  No, they will probably never wear matching clothing in pictures or share the same toys, or even the same interests, at times, because they will be almost eight years apart.  But I know that they will share a sisterly bond that only they will understand.

And I know that our son, our newly promoted middle child, will have the experience of having two sisters.  And he’s told me that he can’t wait for his baby sister because it’s his job to protect her (please let him remember this when she is chewing on his toys or throwing a toddler tantrum in front of his friends).

It feels like Baby Emma has been with our family forever, and she’s still tucked safely in my belly. You mamas know what I mean – it’s amazing we feel this way about our babies, isn’t it? My whole family can’t wait to meet her…and as my son says, “finally kiss her big chubby baby cheeks!”  Thank you all for your sweet wishes, thoughts and support during this crazy pregnancy journey – I can’t wait to share updates and pictures once she makes her big arrival!

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Things to Do Before Baby Arrives Checklist

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things to do before baby arrives checklist

The Pregnancy Diaries…

The third trimester. UGH.  The THIRD trimester.  All of you mamas know what I’m talking about. The trimester that seems to last 3,000 days.  And here I am, smack dab in the middle of it – 36 weeks and counting – which inspired this things to do before baby arrives checklist post!

There’s something about hitting that 36th week that inspires major excitement (and minor panic) – baby is coming – SOON!!!!

Which means there are lots of things to do before baby arrives. Gulp.

Whether it’s your first or third, there is always SO much to be done to prepare.  We’ve already talked about that crazy little phenomenon called “pregnancy brain,” right?  So this is why lists are so important to me…and most pregnant moms I know.

Whenever I feel myself getting overwhelmed at how much still needs to be done before baby girl comes, I make a checklist.  On the flip side, these lists you make can also cause you to feel overwhelmed, so try to take your to-do tasks in stride, and ask for help when you can! Here is my things to do before baby arrives checklist. If you have anything to add, please comment below!

Things to Do Before Baby Arrives Checklist

1. Finish the baby’s room.

2. Buy any other baby items you may still need.

3. Decide on cord blood banking and initiate the process, if you decide to do it.

4. Make sure the baby’s car seat is assembled and cleaned, and practice installing.

5. For that matter, install any other mandatory baby item that may need more attention that just washing and folding.

6. If you are going to give sibling gifts (from the baby to the big kids), buy and wrap with a card.

7. If you plan to order a breast pump through your insurance company, call and get the information – order (many insurances now cover breast pumps!).

8. Research and purchase nursing bras, if you are planning to nurse.

9. Wash newborn clothing, blankets, sheets, liners, changing pad covers, etc.

10. Finish any baby gift thank-you notes to friends and family.

11. If you plan to take professional newborn pictures, research photographer options and prices, and make a tentative appointment.

12. If you plan to send birth announcements, pick out the baby announcement design you like, budget for it, and draft your wording – so that when baby is here and you’re sleep deprived and recovering, you already have your card picked out (and you just have to insert the birthday, weight and length).

13. Educate yourself on your company’s policies for maternity leave, meet with HR, fill out any necessary maternity leave paperwork in advance, discuss your plans with your boss, and get as organized as possible (especially for when you are absent).

14. Look up your medical insurance information and make sure you are educated about when you sign up baby for insurance (and the timeframe you have to do so).

15. Fill out any hospital/birthing center paperwork you can, in advance, and send it in.

16. Discuss any questions you have regarding your ideal birth experience with your doctor or midwife, and finalize your ideal birth plan.

17. Talk to your close family and/or friends about how they can best support you during and after you give birth – i.e. have you and your spouse/partner decided if you’d like people at the hospital? Are you up for guests at your house after you get home (to visit the baby)?  Will you need help with meals? Your big kids?

18. Pack your hospital bag.

19. Make (or confirm) any final childcare arrangements for the big kid(s) while you’re giving birth.

20. Stockpile diapers!

21. Breathe!

Any other mamas out there want to chime in?  Any things to do before baby arrives items I missed? Please comment below!

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Helping Kids Prepare for a New Sibling

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Helping Kids Prepare for a New Sibling

The Pregnancy Diaries

There is nothing like welcoming a new baby into your family.  A sweet little angel that will bless you beyond belief…and change everything!  And, it can be an exciting, happy, thrilling, confusing and scary time for new big brothers and sisters.  Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite tips for helping kids prepare for a new sibling.

Involve them in the pregnancy

Explain how it’s going to work.  And no, I don’t necessarily mean “the birds and the bees” talk or “how the baby is going to get out” talk (unless you’re ready for that!).  What I mean is a high-level, big picture explanation of what’s going on with mommy…and depending on your child’s age, will depend on how much detail you choose to share.  When you decide to talk to your older kids is also a consideration – whether you choose to tell them early on or once you start showing more.

With my seven and five-year-old, we waited until after we had our first ultrasound and saw (and heard!) that amazing flutter of a heartbeat.  And we told them on Christmas morning – their last Christmas present that they “opened.”  Once the excitement, jumping up and down, and squealing simmered, I explained that the new baby was growing in mama’s belly.  The baby’s job was to grow a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger everyday, and that it was my job…our job…to help him or her. I went on to say that mom’s belly was going to get a little bigger everyday (which they thought was hilarious), and that there was going to be some things that I wouldn’t be able to do anymore…and would need their help, because they are were so big and strong and smart.  They felt very important.

And thus began our family “pregnancy project.”  I was no longer pregnant – “we” were pregnant.  And they felt like they had a part in helping their new sibling from the beginning.

Let them help

Speaking of letting them help, I think this is absolutely essential in having your big kids feel a part of the pregnancy and their new sibling.  The sooner they feel like they have an important part, the sooner they are more likely to be onboard.

We talk about our Baby Emma quite often, and have since we told the kids we were pregnant.  I am constantly referring to them as “big sister” and “big brother.”  I don’t just say how I’ll need their help once the baby comes, I tell them I need their help now. Because kids are all about the here and now and instant gratification.  “When the baby comes” seems like a lifetime to them.  So I say, involve the older siblings now!  Here are some of the ways I ask my bigs to help me and baby girl:

– Every time they help you pick up something that you can’t reach, get you a snack, pick up their room, do their chores/tasks without complaint or asking, etc., praise them.  “THANK you for helping mom and baby!  I really appreciate you helping us.  What an awesome big sister/brother you are – you’re already helping the baby!”  Verbal praise goes a long way with my kids.

– Nesting?  Let them help.  Of course, depending on the age of your older sibling(s) will depend on what’s reasonable and doable.  Mine are a bit older, so I let them help me go through baby boxes unearthed in the garage, and tell them funny or cute baby stories about when they were itty bitty.  And how Baby Emma will love their ________ (whatever we are unpacking).

– Speaking of dragging all of the baby clothes and bins out from the garage, if your child is of appropriate age where they will understand, I recommend that you make a really big deal out of how much they are helping the baby by letting him/her use their old baby stuff.

– Take them shopping with you, and let them pick out something special for the baby.  I don’t mean take them on every shopping trip.  But schedule something where they can be part of it.  Talk about what the baby will need.

– Let them help you set-up items where the baby will be.  Give them an opportunity to fold clothes, put wall decals on the wall, organize baby toys, etc.

– If they are older, like my Elizabeth, ask them to help you make to-do lists.  Elizabeth LOVES helping me organize and making lists to prepare for Baby Emma.  Take a look at her latest below – love it, and I’m saving this one!

Preparing for a New Sibling_2

Let them bond

Here’s how I started encouraging the baby bonding with my two bigs – every time I would feel a flutter or kick (even before anyone else could feel it), I would say “Oh my goodness, baby is kicking mama!  That means she hears your voice and is trying to get to you!”

I constantly say to both kids, “You two are going to be Baby Emma’s favorite people in the whole world.  You’re going to teach her everything and be her best friends and protectors!”  Now that she visibly kicks through my shirt, I’ll say, “Baby girl wants to play patty cake with you!” Or, “Baby girl wants a hug from you!”  This is a super easy way to make a new big brother and/or sister feel special.

From the beginning, I’ve asked each child to read her a book or sing her a song each night.  This has become part of our bedtime routine. They love “teaching” her new songs.  Elizabeth is convinced that she will come out knowing her “ABCs” because she sings it to her every night. Nathan is constantly kissing my belly and getting right up to my belly button (which he thinks is a microphone) and tells her stories. Let them talk to the baby…and see how easy the bonding comes.

I’ve also started talking about how we will correctly hold the baby, burp the baby, snuggle the baby, etc.  We get dolls out and each kid practices holding a “baby.” Here’s Nathan working on supporting the head.

Preparing for a Sibling_1

If you’re up for it, let them come to a doctor’s appointment with you, where the can hear the heartbeat on the doppler.  The first time I let Elizabeth hear at the appointment, it was magical to see her eyes lit up – “MOM!  She’s REALLY in there!!”

If it’s not feasible for them to accompany you to the doctor, take an audio recording of the heartbeat with your phone, and share it with them at home!

Welcome “birthday” party

Who doesn’t love a party?  Especially little kids (and big kids!)!  And there has to be cake – because I know my kids don’t think it’s really a birthday party unless there’s cake!  Ask them to make welcome signs for the new baby, get balloons and decorations, make birthday cards, etc.  Make it a festive, happy party atmosphere for when mom and baby come home.  You can even have them sing “Happy Birthday” to the new baby upon their arrival home!

New sibling gifts

On the flip side, I always have the new baby give a gift to their new big brother and/or sister.  One of my friends suggested this to me way back when I was expecting Nathan and Elizabeth was only two-and-a-half-years old.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant!  Just something that the new baby can “give” to his/her new sibling to say thank for helping take care of me.

 

What are your best suggestions to help older kids prepare for a new baby?  I would love to hear from you!  Please share any sibling bonding or preparation tips in the comments below!

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What’s in a name?

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Choosing a baby name is one of the most important decisions you will make for your new little one. Baby names are a huge deal, for example, millions waited to hear what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would name their new baby girl (no pressure!) – and I for one, absolutely love the name they picked…Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  Certainly fit for a princess!

Whats-In-a-Name Which leads me to my next question – what’s in a name? How do you choose a baby name?  There are so many decisions that go into picking a moniker for your child, and sometimes it can be a bit more complicated than just picking up a baby name book.

What if you and your partner can’t agree?  Are there family names to take into consideration?  Do you like all variations of the nicknames?  Do you tell people the name you’ve chosen before the baby is born…or after?  Wow!  Lots to think about, right??

Agreeing on a baby name

Let’s tackle the first, and perhaps most obvious, challenge – both you and your partner should love (at least like?) the name.  Oh boy (or girl)!

I’ve had my baby names picked out since I was a kid – yes, seriously. Especially my girl name – Elizabeth. My mom loves to tell that story that I named every doll I ever owned “Elizabeth” my whole childhood.  And when my husband and I got married, he knew that if we ever had a girl, it would be our Elizabeth (Thankfully he loved the name too, and it happened to be a family name on his side.  Win-win!).

Here’s the deal we made.

I picked the first name of our first child, and he picked the middle name.  When our second baby came, he picked the first name and I picked the middle.  We each had “veto” power if the other one came up with a name that we absolutely could not live with (and we had to promise to use our veto power sparingly).  That system worked well for us.  We each had a say, we each got to pick a name that we loved.  And thankfully, we each liked the way the two names sounded together.

How did you (or how are you) and your partner handling the name game?  The combinations are endless…and so are the ways to choose!

Questions to ask when considering baby names: 

– Do you gravitate toward a traditional name or a more unique name?  If you pick a traditional name, do you want a unique spelling?

– Is there a family name…or family naming traditions…that need to be taken into consideration?  Talk to your partner and see what the expectation is.

– Think about all variations of the full name and nickname(s).  Do you like them all?

– Who gets final say?  Is it a joint decision? Will you split it up like we did? Discuss (in advance!) what will happen if one of you really dislikes a name that the other one loves.  What will be the deciding factor?

– Will you include other people in your decision…or is this something you will be keeping private?

Naming before the baby is born…or after? 

Ooohhh, this is a big topic among my friends. People tend to feel pretty strongly about it – do you wait to see what the baby “looks like?” Or do you settle on the name before the baby is born?

For us, we have always picked the full name before the baby is born.

I love being able to bond with the baby and call him/her by name.  Now that I have big kids with this pregnancy, they love already knowing her name.  It’s not just a “baby,” it’s helping them to recognize her as her own little person.  They read to her, sing to her, have conversations with her…it really has helped our whole family connect with her.

So since we have decided, I would love to share with you…

Our new little princess will be Miss Emma Jean!

Since we’ve been talking about a third child for a really long time, we’ve had another boy and girl name picked out for a really long time.  Both my husband and I love the name Emma (and how well it goes with our current kid names), and chose Jean, for my beautiful Grandma Jean, whom I was very close to (and who passed last year).

We are thrilled with her name, and reference “Emma” instead of “baby” pretty much all the time.  To us, she is Emma, even in utero.

I also have friends who swear by choosing the name once they are holding baby in their arms. They have their top two or three names, and love to see what the baby looks like.  I say, to each their own – as long as you’re having fun and bonding, go for it!

To tell or not to tell

I’ve seen a growing trend lately that friends and family pick the name before the birth, but choose not to share until baby is born.

Usually for one of two reasons – 1) It makes for a fun surprise, especially if people already know the gender before the baby is born. 2) People do not want unsolicited opinions about what they are choosing to name their baby.

I see both points.  I’ve just never been able to keep it to myself! It is rather interesting, though, that people feel compelled to give their opinion on the name you’ve chosen…whether you ask or not.  I guess it’s pretty much like anything else in pregnancy – people think it’s fair game to weigh in.  Most of the time, I’ve had people rave over the names I’ve chosen. And then I’ve had a few that say things like, “Oh. Well, I guess it will have to grow on me.”

Take this with a grain of salt, mamas. Being pregnant, you’re used to unsolicited advice by now (unfortunately).  If you choose to share your name in advance, say it proud, and shrug off any rude or unwanted comments.  It’s your precious baby, and your precious name!

Baby naming websites and apps

There are literally hundreds of sites that can help you research and choose the perfect baby name for your little one, and here are just a handful to get you started.  I know (believe me, I know), it can be  overwhelming.  Browse through books or sites during your downtime, and have fun with it!

www.babynames.com 

www.babycenter.com

www.parents.com

www.babble.com

www.sheknows.com

And, of course, there are apps for baby names, too!  Here’s a great article on Mashable that lists top baby name apps to help get you started:  “Baby Name Blues? 10 Apps to Help You Choose!”

Or check out this fun article found on www.brit.co that can help you find the best baby naming app for you:  “7 Apps to Help You Pick Baby Names.”

How did you pick your baby’s name?  Any great resources or tips to share?  Any drama or funny stories?  We’d love to hear from you below!

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Honey, it’s time!

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Oh my gosh, the time is finally here!  We get to meet our baby girl!!!   I will likely post her arrival details sometime next week.   

If you don’t want to miss her arrival stats, please SUBSCRIBE to my blog!  All you do is type your email in the box where it says “Subscribe” at the top of the right column on the Home Page.  Then, whenever there is a new post, you will be notified!

In the meantime, I will still have new posts each day, including some fabulous guest blogs and fun summer ideas, so please keep checking in with Tiny Oranges! Thanks so much for reading my blog and for your support!   

XOXO
Jen

P.S. Have a VERY happy and safe 4th of July weekend!!!

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