The Pregnant Life: Miss Independent

Amy Keyishian

A play-date with Martha (and her mom)
I've been trying to look ahead to Birdie's birth (just 13 weeks away!) so it can be as easy as possible for Penelope, who'll be 22 months on the due date. (I'm going on the assumption that I'll go pretty close to term. According to my advice nurse, the 17P progesterone shots make an overwhelming difference.)

Of course, nothing's going to make it smooth and painless for my precious girl, and I'm trying so hard not to fret about it. What can I do but my best? In the long run, she'll be glad to have a sister so she won't have to deal with her crazy mother all on her own. In the short run, though -- it rips my heart out to think of anything robbing her of my attention or making her feel the least bit unloved.

Then again, given the overwhelming and possibly smothering amount of love and attention I want to slather on the poor kid, dividing my attention might be the first best thing I do for her!

Her pediatrician said that ideally, we'd have nothing change 60 days before or 60 days after the birth. Totally unrealistic, but he's just saying that's ideal. In practice, I know one mom who lost her nanny a week before her second kid's birth and had to put the older kid right into a new preschool. They managed.

Anyway, here are some measures I'm taking to give P her best chance at not having her world shattered:

  • More play-dates. These have more to do with the adults in her life than the kids, frankly. The more grownups P feels comfortable with -- who can put her down for a nap, get her to eat, engage with her, and give her hugs 'n' pats -- the more time Randy and I can comfortably focus on the new kid, when we're both necessary.
  • Streamlining the sleep routine. Currently, P and I have the most luxurious nighttime routine you can imagine. I give her a bath (if it's bath night), take my time on her lotion-y massage, get her into jammies, then bring her into our bed where she sucks down a water bottle and several books. When she's ready, she clambers onto me and puts her head down on my shoulder; if she doesn't do this herself, I put her there and hold her tight while she objects, sometimes loudly, and it sometimes takes her 20 to 40 minutes of fussing to start snoring. I'm not going to be able to keep doing that. Putting her straight into the crib seems too sudden, so tonight we started phase one of the transition to her putting herself to sleep: Instead of her bed, I did books 'n' bottle in the rocking chair by her bed. She was initially confused as to why we weren't going into our room, and I felt a guilty twinge, but I reminded myself this was better for her in the long run and led her into her room. She was fine. We read the same books and she had the same bottle, and she climbed up to my shoulder and dropped off to sleep the same way. Okay.
  • Encouraging independent play. I'm looking for any sign that she likes a particular activity, and then I'm getting her as much into it as I can manage. She likes climbing? She gets an indoor play structure. (At a garage sale, $15!) She likes books about Elmo? Her Elmo library expands exponentially. She likes to draw? Um … I'm not too sure what to do about that. We're renting -- the walls can't take unsupervised drawing. The point is, any time she spends alone, I encourage, and she gets extra hugs-and-pats when she's managed to do an absorbing project (like moving all of Daddy's CDs from a box to the floor and back) on her own for a good long time.

Am I missing anything else? Remember, she's still a baby herself -- I'm not going to tell her to get her own Cheerios or take up needlepoint. I just want her to expand the part of her world that isn't ... me.

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