These are just a few of the inquisitive questions my almost-five-year-old has tossed my way in the last few months. I'm pregnant with my third baby—her second sibling—and although she has seen me pregnant before, she was barely two years old when her brother was in utero. This time around, she is becoming a bit pregnancy/birth/baby obsessed with the impending arrival of her new sibling and just can't get enough of the whole process.
Of course, this has left me a little flabbergasted. How exactly do I answer these questions in an appropriate yet informative way? I've already gone down one too many rabbit holes and found myself at a dead end, whispering about sperm while my daughter asks me to clarify, so rather than tripping my way through an answer I've turned to the some experts.
Off to the Library for Some Books
My kids learn so much through reading. Seeing pictures connect with words can make a whole world of sense when it comes to new or abstract concepts. We found "How You Were Born" by Joanna Cole and "What Makes a Baby" by Cory Silverberg to be great resources from our local library. So much so that I already have them on hold for a second round!
Most of all, she has learned that her role as a big sister is an exciting honor and she's thriving as she learns how to support her growing family.
Snuggle Up for Some Educational Movie Time
After announcing my pregnancy, we started watching the weekly "What to Expect" videos. They're available through the app and give a brief 5- to 8-minute overview of how baby is developing. We've loved learning the intricacies of fetal growth and it's super sweet to hear my daughter sharing random facts about our baby's hearing, heart rate and organ development with our family and friends.
We've taken it a step further and added birth videos to our movie line up as well. My daughter has high hopes of attending her sibling's birth and since we are planning a home birth the likelihood that she'll be awake and close by is high. Because of this, I want her fully informed on what to expect so she is educated and not scared about what she sees. "Born in Water: A Sacred Journey; a Beautiful Collection of Seven Waterbirths" from the Andaluz Waterbirth Center is by far her favorite birth video. I've also found some great ultrasound and home birth videos on YouTube. Like with all movies, be sure to screen whatever you share with your child first. Sometimes the intense visual of a movie can do more harm than good when it comes to a barrage of questions!
Our Everyday Conversations
Of course, we don't only read books and watch movies. Most days, we engage in a lot of conversation, despite my missteps. It has been exciting to see her knowledge base grow on the topic of pregnancy, birth and babies. She loves hearing her birth story, her brother's and that of a few close friends who we've had playdates with. Most of all, she has learned that her role as a big sister is an exciting honor and she's thriving as she learns how to support her growing family. Right now, she is my water-reminder girl so I stay hydrated throughout the summer: "Our baby needs water to stay extremely healthy!" She also adores practicing holding friend's infants and her baby dolls the right way: "Lots of head support! Don't let their neck flop!"
I don't know if I've ever seen a happier face than that of my daughter when she heard her baby brother or sister's heartbeat for the first time. At that moment, our baby became tangible and real to her. From that moment on, she has been eager to attend each of my midwife appointments. At her age, she is able to sit quietly, observe and ask questions of her own. Thankfully, I've used these appointments as a great deterrent for when I don't know the answer to something. In those moments, I'll simple say, "I don't know, let's write it down and ask Miss Stacey at our next appointment!"
All Signed Up for Sibling Preparation Class
Oh yes, these exist! See if there is one near you! My daughter will be attending hers in the fall and can't wait for her special big-sister class. I'm sure it will cover things I could easily teach her, but a class of her own validates her experience and I'm happy to send her off to learn from a local birth educator.
How have you approached the nonstop questions about pregnancy, birth and babies with your older children? I'd love to hear your ideas because the questions aren't stopping around here!