It’s been an exciting couple months around our household, as we recently announced that we are expecting baby #4 in December. As someone who loves surprises, I’ve always enjoyed the moment of revealing our pregnancies, and the gender (after the 20 week ultrasound), and the name (at birth) of our babies. But this time has been extra special, mainly because this is our last baby and also because our other kids are old enough to play along this time. When we brought home our daughter in 2012, our boys were only 2 and 3 at the time, but this time we will have a 7, 5, and 3 year old to celebrate the new arrival. This has been an entirely new experience for us, including the kids in every step, and we are all loving it! I definitely think their involvement in all of the surprises and excitement will be a great help in the transition from a family of five to a family of six this winter.
Here are a few ways that we have included our little ones in the precious journey of our last pregnancy:
The Announcement: Due to severe morning (all-day) sickness, we had to tell our close friends and family members fairly early on in the pregnancy. However, we waited a few more weeks to tell the kids, just to be on the safe side. When we did tell them, we decided to let them “surprise” everyone and announce the news about our baby (key word: OUR baby). Even though some people already knew the news, they played along sweetly, and the kids had so much fun telling everyone about their new baby in mommy’s tummy. And when we were ready to announce the news to Facebook-land, they were so happy to see their pictures on the computer screen. I’ll never forget their smiles and giggles during that little mini photo-session in our living room.
Countdown to Baby: As we all know, in today’s world there’s always “an app for that”, and pregnancy is by no means an exception. With this being my fourth, I’ll admit I wasn’t even planning to download the apps, but when my kids started asking questions, I decided it would be fun for them. Every week that passes, we look at my phone and see images of baby’s development, a list of body parts that are currently forming (they love this), and usually a comparison to tangible items like peas, prunes, and peaches. These real-life comparisons are really fun for the kids; last week my middle son carried an actual peach around the house telling everyone it was the baby. Any suggestions for other apps/programs? We’d love to try some more! We are also searching Pinterest for some fun “countdown” crafts to make when the time gets closer. They always love a project, and I think having a visual reminder of baby coming soon will make it even more exciting for them.
Naming the Baby: Don’t worry, we are not letting our kids name our baby! We talk about names a lot, and it’s fun to hear their suggestions, but we aren’t going to go that far. However, we decided last week that it might be fun to choose a name to use until the baby gets here. With our others, they each ended up with some sort of nickname while they were in my tummy, so this time we took it to a vote. One night at the dinner table we each chose a name, and made a list. Our oldest was in heaven with the markers, keeping a tally as we posted the list to Facebook and asked our friends to play along. It might seem a little silly to call the baby “gumdrop” (the winner by a landslide), but at least until we know the gender, it sounds so much better than calling it “it”!
Gender Reveal: We are definitely the “find out” family when it comes to gender. With one of the pregnancies we considered (for a split second) not finding out, but we just couldn’t stand to wait! And this time, the kids are on board 100%, mainly for the fact that we have promised them a party, with cupcakes. I showed them the plethora of gender-reveal ideas on Pinterest, but they made the decision pretty easy for me when they saw the frosting-filled cupcakes. I actually made some of these for my best friend’s gender reveal a couple years ago, and the kids loved it, so I wasn’t surprised that they picked it for “their baby” too. When August comes around, we will all five be sitting in the room when the ultrasound tech shows us the baby swimming around (I can’t wait to see their faces!), and then Mommy will secretly fill the cupcakes with pink or blue frosting when we get home. Once again, anything with a “vote” is a dream come true for my 7 year old, so I will let him handle that when our friends and family come over. And then, we will all count to three and bite into the cupcakes to see if we’re getting a baby brother or a baby sister. Now that is an exciting dessert!
Birth Announcement: As I mentioned, we don’t usually announce our babies’ names until after they arrive. So, as with everything else, I’d really love for the kids to be involved with making the name announcement. I’m still brainstorming (aka searching the interwebs) for ideas, but I definitely foresee my three littles as the ones who will be there to greet people at the hospital room to announce their brother/sister’s name, weight, etc. (and most likely another mini-photo shoot in the living room!) Once again, all ideas are welcome here in the comments if you have suggestions!
Overall, the biggest message I’m trying to convey is this: let the kids play along. Let them be a part of the surprises, and the countdowns, and all of the big moments in between. Bringing a baby home is always a challenge for the older siblings, and anything to get them excited and prepared (as much as possible) for baby is always a plus. They love to be a part of the fun, they love to make projects and make plans and talk about what will happen when the baby comes home. Remind them that it is their baby too, that they will have jobs (believe it or not, they love having a job and being a part of the team), and that this little one will grow up to be another built-in best friend in the house. I’m praying that all of these things we are doing now will be precious memories for our little ones, and that they will look back with smiles when they remember the day that we brought our last baby home to complete our family.