26 February 2014, by Mandy Loh
While pregnant, one of my biggest concerns was how Cristan would take to having a younger sister.
I did my best to prepare him by reading him lots of library books about becoming an older brother, and talking to him about what would happen when Mommy gives birth to Mei Mei. I suppose some of it eventually got through, because although Cristan wasn’t exactly happy about the changes, he definitely understood what was going on.
I also couldn’t have asked for a better timing for Caris’ birth. The contractions started in the morning, which allowed me to personally tell Cristan that we were headed to the hospital and that Mei Mei was about to be born. In fact, we went about our daily routine at home as per normal, getting ready, having breakfast, and sending him to playschool. Then, after he came home from school and had his afternoon nap, he was able to come to the hospital to visit me and see his Mei Mei for the first time!
There were a few things we carefully orchestrated for this first meeting:
1) We placed Caris in her bassinet at the far corner of the room, so that Cristan could come straight to my bed and I could give him a big hug first.
2) Tim coordinated with his brother, who helped us fetch Cristan and the grandparents to the hospital, to ensure that neither Tim nor myself would be carrying Caris when Cristan entered the hospital room. We wanted to focus all our attention on him for the first few minutes, before introducing Caris.
3) We prepared a present exchange: one from Cristan to Caris (which Cristan chose himself when we brought him shopping), and one from Caris to Cristan. Sort of like an ice-breaker. Almost everyone, including parenting websites, had advocated this tip, so we followed it!
Everything went according to plan. I spent the first few minutes talking to Cristan, asking about his day and giving him a few hugs and kisses. Then, we all said hi to Caris as the grandparents gushed over the new addition to the family. But after a few moments of glancing at Caris, Cristan announced that it was enough, and promptly went off to play with his new present, ignoring Mei Mei altogether! Haha…I suppose we shouldn’t take it too negatively – it’s probably just the short attention span of a 2 1/2 year old!
The next day when Cristan came by to visit, he actually wanted to hold Mei Mei! We let him, of course, but I made sure I supported Caris’ fragile head and neck with my arm while resting the rest of her tiny body on Cristan’s lap. What a sweet moment!
Unfortunately, the sweetness didn’t last. In the days right after we brought Caris home from the hospital, Cristan was extremely challenging, having screaming tantrums and misbehaving all the time. Perhaps he felt threatened that an “intruder” was on his turf, and he wanted to assure himself that he was still the centre of attention. In addition to the dramatic overhaul of family dynamics, he had developed a bad cough and cold, which didn’t help the negative behaviour one bit.
Thankfully, after slightly more than a week of acting up, he suddenly settled down, and currently is back to being his darling self again. Phew! In fact, some days Cristan comes home from school and says “I want to see Mei Mei!”, and would even occasionally give her a gentle pat on her hand or leg.
I know its still early days right now, and there will be good times as well as not so good ones in the future. I’m just hoping and praying that Cristan and Caris will develop a wonderful sibling relationship in the years ahead! For now, we’re off to a rather promising start! 🙂