Two’s a crowd! Raising a toddler while pregnant
Two’s a Crowd! Raising a Toddler While Pregnant
By Shanêy Vijendranath
In December 2014 when I stopped my contraceptive pill, I was a mom to a clingy toddler who was a fussy eater, hated sleep, and loved breastmilk. It made me nervous – was I doing the right thing? Is my toddler ready for a sibling?
I have always wanted a three-year age gap between my kids, so I knew this day would come, but I still had to prepare myself. I’ve heard stories of how toddlers act out when they find out that there’s another baby arriving soon; that freaked me out! Would my daughter start rejecting me? I remember sitting on my bed and thinking, ‘How do I explain to a two-year-old that she’s going to be a big sister?’
Even though this pregnancy was planned, at that moment it felt like everything else wasn’t. I never thought about how I would explain to my toddler the changes that were about to happen, or how I planned to wean her off breastmilk. She was with me 24/7, so this was also going to be a big change in her life.
I then decided that it was time Kitana went to playschool because I could see she was lonely and bored at home. The first month was difficult for me and for her (honestly sometimes more for me than her). She cried every time I dropped her off, while I sat in my car and cried too. It felt like torture, but my heart kept telling me that I was doing the right thing.
I did not really have morning sickness, but I was always tired, and breastfeeding my toddler was draining me. I started hating it. There were days that my daughter would come home and drink immediately, but things improved with time. I knew she had to keep attending school in order to wean her off.
Everyone around me was scared because many say breastfeeding isn’t allowed during pregnancy. However, my gynae assured me it was fine. I hadn’t been in a big rush to wean Kitana off, but I knew it was the right thing to do because it was overwhelming me. My mood swings were changing and I didn’t want to be frustrated with her because of this.
Honestly, I didn’t want to be the mom walking around breastfeeding two kids, especially not a three-year-old and a newborn. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those who do, but it’s just not for me.
Every day I would see a change in my daughter. She was becoming this little person with a big personality. School was changing her and in the best way possible. She started interacting with kids in her class, eating regularly, and learning more. She even weaned off on her own without realising it. Can you believe it? I remember the nights when she would wake me up at least six times looking for the breast, but everything is so different now.
During these past couple of months she’s also become more attached to my mom and cousin (I’m not sure if my pregnancy has anything to do with this). She’s been to my cousin’s house for two sleepovers already. She’s finally sleeping through the night and eating three meals a day.
I thought this was going to be a difficult road for me, but it’s taught me that having a support group is important; things would be different if my mom and cousin were not around to help me through this process. I’m so grateful to them for teaching me that sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.
I think it’s extremely important to prepare your toddler for the new baby from day one. It’s important to regularly explain the changes that are happening. Kitana has noticed the biggest change – my stomach. I explained to her that she has a baby brother in there and l let her speak to him, especially when he’s moving around. I’ve taken her to visit friends’ babies and in allowing her to interact with them, I could see how excited she got. I’m hoping she will remain this way when her brother arrives.
Reading baby books with your toddler can help to introduce the new family member. So too can spending quality time with them, and taking them to doctors’ appointments to keep them involved in the new change.
I decided to purchase little gifts for Kitana before the baby is born. Every day that I’m in hospital, I plan on surprising her with a gift from her sibling. I also want Kitana to be involved when her brother arrives by doing little things like passing a nappy during changing, or passing the towel during bath time.
Raising two kids is going to be a handful, but I plan on enjoying every moment of it.
Motherhood is love like you’ve never felt it before. It will make you emotional, but also make you realise how important it is to treasure every moment. It’s not an easy road, but the rewards are so worth it!