Saying goodbye to the only child bond
Dr. Susan Bartell
Emily became pregnant with her second child, she and her husband
were thrilled. They had planned and achieved a three-year age difference
between their older daughter, Jennifer, and the new baby. They felt
this would give them enough time to fully experience Jennifer's
babyhood before having a second child. Emily's pregnancy was progressing
normally and all their family and friends were excited. It took
Emily quite by surprise then, when she suddenly started to feel
sad about the pregnancy. As much as she wanted the baby, she knew
that once the baby was born, her relationship with Jennifer would
change forever. In fact, she sometimes found herself crying when
she thought about having to give up the special intimacy she and
Jennifer shared. Along with the sadness, Emily felt guilty that
her feelings about having the baby were so mixed.
To Emily and to all you other parents
out there who have experienced this feeling, relax! This is a perfectly
normal reaction, not only for mothers but for fathers as well. As
parents, we pour our hearts and souls into our first children. We
adore them, devote all our available time to them, comfort them
and study them. We develop an intense and wonderful bond with them.
So much so, in fact, that we can't imagine our lives being any different.
So when there's another baby on the way, we may be ready in some
ways, but emotionally it is a very big adjustment for us. We spend
so much time worrying about how to prepare our first child for the
baby, that we forget to prepare ourselves!
Here are some suggestions on how to cope with these mixed-up feelings:
- First of all, DON'T feel guilty. You are feeling sad about having
to give up something you have treasured and you need time to get
used to it.
- It may feel, right now, that you couldn't possible love another
baby as much as you love your first child, but you will see that
a parent's love is endless. No matter how many children you have,
you will have more than enough love to go around. But practically
speaking, your first child is here and the new baby isn't yet.
So it makes sense that your feelings for your first child are
stronger right now and you need to acknowledge this reality to
yourself without feeling bad about it.
- Talk to your partner and friends, particularly those who have
had more than one child. You will be surprised to find out that
you are not the only person to have experienced these confusing
feelings. And it is comforting to know that you are not alone.
- Start to think of ways in which you can maintain the special
relationship you have with your first child. For example with
some planning between you and your partner, you won't have to
give up the bathtime, reading, and bedtime rituals which are often
some the most special times between parents and children. While
this may become more complicated as the baby gets older, with
some flexibility you will be able to feel good about giving everyone
(including yourself) what he needs.
- Don't forget that although you may feel sad about giving up
the special bond felt between a parent and an only child, you
are replacing it with something equally wonderful. You will feel
the love, hugs and snuggles of two children who adore and need
you. And your life will become richer for it.
Understanding some of the
confusing feelings you may be having will help you to manage the
emotional swings associated with pregnancy. Then, after the new
baby is born, you will find that the way in which you parent your
children is enriched because you will better understand your feelings
towards your children and your ways of responding to them. Be sure
that you will love your new baby just as much as you love your first
child, even if the love is not to be exactly the same.
Read more articles:
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Dr. Susan Bartell
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