In January of 2016, we welcomed our little miracle into this world. And I don’t use the word miracle lightly. His arrival was preceded by lots of prayer, patience, a miscarriage and two rounds of medication. There were days when I honestly thought being a stepmom would be the closest I would come to experiencing parenthood.
There are a lot of worries first time pregnant women have but being a first time pregnant woman with two step kids brings on another whole set of worries. Having a baby wouldn’t be as simple as just my husband and I adjusting to parenting together; we also had to consider our 6 and 8 year olds who lived with us part time as well. The following are some tips that we learned along our journey of bringing an “ours” baby into a blended family.
- Tell the other parent before the kids do. I was sick. Really sick. Like the girls at work gave me my own stall in the bathroom sick from about week 6 to week 39. Feeling this way moved up our timeline of telling the kids about the baby. They were starting to wonder why I was so grumpy and miserable all of the time. We always make it a point to tell Mom about big news through text or email when we tell the kids so that the news comes from us not from them. Frankly, we could have handled it better and told her at a better time (she was in the hospital recovering from surgery at the time) but hindsight is 20/20. After the initial shock, she handled it really well.
- Involve the kids in the process of preparing for the baby. I chose to deliver at Liberty Hospital and they offer a Big Sibling class that allows kids to come in and tour the Birthing Unit as well as learn a little about babies and what to expect.
- Listen to their concerns and questions and address them appropriately. We had lots of conversations about how the baby would emerge and a few uncomfortable ones about how the baby got in there. At one point, my stepdaughter asked me how the baby got in my belly. I took a deep breath and looked at her and asked, “How do you think he got in there?” She replied, “Well, God knew we wanted a baby so he put one in there for us.” And that was that. My stepson also asked if the baby would be his step-brother. We told him that since he and the baby have the same Dad, they would just be brothers. And luckily Mom supports us on this.
- Plan some special time for the kids and their biological parent (in our case, Dad) before and after the baby arrives. About two weeks after he was born, Dad took both kids to Monster Jam for a special Saturday afternoon treat. My mom also decided to spend Saturday morning (while Dad was working) with one grandchild. She took them to the park, did crafts, and just spent some quality one-on-one time with him or her.
- Allow them to “help” in whatever way they want to or don’t want to. When Dylan was first born, my stepdaughter was much more interested in playing with him and entertaining him. My stepson kept asking when he was actually “do” stuff and then would want to go play with his Legos. Now that he’s almost a year old, the roles have reversed. My stepson can spend hours playing cars, roughhousing or pushing him around the living room. I love watching how both kids relationships with him are developing.