The big age gap between our kids

We honestly did not think about “The big age gap between our kids”. Naturally when I found out I was pregnant with baby number 2, I imagined that that everything would fall into place like it does in the movies, uhm, and social media.. You know, where brothers and sisters have the most amazing relationship, new babies are so welcomed into the family by their siblings and it’s all just butterflies and roses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it doesn’t happen like that at all, I just think tv and social media lead us to be believe that it happens that way more than it actually does.

Liam had just turned 6 when I fell pregnant again. We were so excited. We immediately shared the news with Liam and he was so happy! A week later I lost the baby. We were devastated to say the least. I will tell you more about that in a later post. Almost a year later, I found out I was pregnant again. Hubby and I kept the news to ourselves for the first few weeks. After having gone for the first scan, we were so excited to hear the heartbeat and see our little bundle alive and well, we came home and shared the news with Liam. He was again very excited. However, he said that he wanted a sister. And he was very specific about this. Infact, he had been saying to us that he wanted a sister long before I even felt pregnant.


Cole wearing naartjie outfit playing outside - The big age gap between our kids


As the pregnancy progressed, we found out it was a boy. I can’t say Liam was disappointed but he couldn’t understand why it was a boy when he specifically asked for a girl. So the closer we got to the delivery date, the more I “prepped” Liam about how life was going to change when his brother arrived. So the big day arrived and Cole was born. Being a mother of one, I just couldn’t imagine how it’s going to be possible for me to love another small human as much as I love Liam. Liam was 7 when Cole was born. So, he had a whole 7 years of all his life to us alone. He too didn’t understand, and couldn’t understand how it’s going to be possible for me to still love him when there is a new baby around.

 What we didn’t expect when the new baby has arrived

For the first, I’d say, 3 months, he would refer to Cole as “the baby”. He would never acknowledge Cole in the room, he wasn’t interested in helping me, playing with Cole, or anything that involved Cole. I mean, can you blame him for feeling these emotions? There’s all of a sudden a new baby in our home that everybody is giving their attention to. All of a sudden, everyone (visitors) is fussing over this new person in our home and some not even acknowledging that he is there. He kept asking me to just tell him whether I loved him or Cole more. I obviously made it very clear that I did not love neither of them more than the other.. He just could not understand how it’s possible that I love them equally. I felt so crushed for him. To make matters worse, I obviously couldn’t give Liam the same amount of attention I used to give him with a new baby around. I tried to, but no matter how much I tried, it was never to go to be the same. Around then at least.


Younger brother holding older brothers hand - The big age gap between our kids


One evening when I hugged Liam, he said I shouldn’t hug him in front of Cole because Cole might think I don’t love him anymore. This was a clear indication that this bothered him. And I reassured him once again, that I love them equally. But one of the major lessons I learned in my motherhood and parenting journey, is that it is all a work in progress. Children do not believe what you say just because you say it, they believe it because they see it. So I needed to do more than just tell him that I loved both him and Cole equally. I needed to show him. And I did, in many ways.

Everyone starts adjusting

So as time went by, Cole wasn’t as needy as he was as a new born, and Liam started showing signs of adjusting. He started referring to him by name, he started helping me with Cole when I asked him to. A year later, and he is even playing with him out of his own, carrying him, involving Cole in everyday things, taking the initiative and looking out for Cole when he is about to touch stuff he shouldn’t be touching or going to a part of the house that he shouldn’t be etc. So when I started seeing these changes, I felt so happy and my heart felt full, because we had reached a major milestone. Don’t get me wrong, Liam still loves his space. There are times when he will close his room door just because he doesn’t want Cole coming in. I think that is pretty normal though and I don’t make a thing of it.

But let me tell you, we’ve come a long way, Liam has come a long way, and I am so proud of how he has grown and adjusted to our new family life. As a second time mom, I realised that having a second baby was not only an adjustment for me, it was a major adjustment for my firstborn. One that we don’t often pre-empt. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and a major adjustment for them too. I became so aware of this, even though others would be totally oblivious to it. Especially others who have never faced this before. You know the saying that time heals all, well it did for us. And I’m so glad it did.


Cole playing with toy - wearing naartjie - The big age gap between our kids


Here are 6 things to help you cope in your journey:

  1. Don’t assume that because he/she is older, they will easily adjust to the new sibling. They won’t. It takes time.

2. Having a newborn is stressful and tiring to say the least. When your eldest child needs you, don’t chase him/her away. You may find yourself doing this, we human, it can happen. But it will only make the adjustment harder for your firstborn.

3. Be conscious of the amount of attention you give to your new bundle. Becareful that your firstborn does not get the feeling of replacement.

4. Show him/her that you still love them. Saying so is not enough.

5. Be patient and don’t expect him/her to fall into big brother mode immediately. Just because it didn’t happen immediately, doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all.

6. Ask a friend who has gone through a slimular situation.


How was your journey?

Love Tracy xxx

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