Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Birthday Celebration

 
We're getting ready for a birthday around here. I'm writing this post in advance and scheduling it to run next week on my due date (which is today for those of you who are reading this on Wednesday, June 26th), so it's hard to know whether to talk in the present or future tense!
 
We've been talking to Henry constantly about his brother's imminent arrival. He knows that baby Tate is "in mama's uterus" and that he's going to come out my "vagina." He knows that the only thing his brother will be able to ingest is milk from mama's "nipples." We try to help him understand that the baby won't be able to talk or walk or play with him at first, but we emphasize that the baby will love to watch him do all those things. We talk about how he'll be able to hold the baby, but only if Mama or Dad is present. We talk about how Tate will sit in the carseat that is next to Henry's in the car and that he'll sleep in our bedroom for a while. We talk about how Henry's going to go to Ruby's house during the birth and how he'll get to come home and meet Tate. We emphasize how to touch babies gently--by rubbing their bellies, holding their hands, or touching their feet. We remind Henry that we never touch another person's eyes (or any living creature for that matter). We reiterate that he's going to be such a good big brother because he will be gentle and nice.
 
And we talk about these things over and over again.
 
I don't actually believe there's any way for a toddler to comprehend the enormous changes that new siblings usher into the family's life, but I do think that talking about these things over and over again is helpful. We'll repeat many of the same things after Tate's arrival, so he can connect all of those previous discussions to his current reality.
 
I thought about giving Henry a present from Tate like I see so many other families do, but it felt inauthentic. It felt like a lie to say to Henry, "Here's a present from your brother." But I liked the notion of tying a positive experience to Tate's arrival, so I proposed the idea to Matt that we celebrate Tate's arrival with birthday cake (which, honestly, Henry will love more than a toy!) and that we help Henry give a present to his brother. I think we'll let Henry choose between ordering this book and this book, since black-and-white books are so good for newborns. Then Henry will be able to "read" the book to his baby brother by naming the animals or items on every page.
 
As for the cake, Henry and I might make one together and then freeze it or else we'll just buy the berry Chantilly cake from Whole Foods, which was one of our primary wedding cakes and brings back good memories. We've also hung the birthday banner in preparation for Tate's arrival.
 
As for everything else on the to-do list, I'm feeling really good. We're getting into what feels like "bonus territory"--things that are nice to have done but we could have lived without. I set up a basket with burp cloths on Henry's shelf, so he's able to help with the baby as needed. I also borrowed a moses basket from my friend, so we're able to have more than one option when it comes to putting the baby to sleep in the early days. Matt and I have talked through the list of things to do once I go into labor to make sure we're both on the same page about what needs to be done and how to prioritize each item.
 
I know I'll never feel completely ready for yet another monumental life change, but at least I feel like everything is prepared and in order.



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5 comments:

Sara said...

Sending you so many good thoughts as you prepare for Tate's arrival! :)

Kate said...

Praying for a smooth birth and a healthy, happy baby and mama! I can't wait to read about sweet Tate's arrival!

Maureen said...

Happy due date Sara! Two years ago today I went into labor with Lily - I'll be sending you birthing vibes!

k said...

Good luck with the birth! Our 3 year old goes to daycare and we bought her a little photo album that she could take with her and show her friends and teachers when our son was born. Nothing fancy, just the kind you slide a print into and I discovered an ap on my phone that allowed me to send pictures to the Walgreens down the street. Easy and cheap!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Oh, I love that idea, k! It will be perfect for Henry. He tells everyone he meets that he's getting a little brother soon. It will mean so much to him to be able to show his friends and teachers pictures of himself with the baby. Thanks!

Maureen! Happy Birthday to Lily! (and congrats to you for another year of parenting!)

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