Pregnant again so soon -- How to Announce?
Hi Dr. Laura,
My fiance and I are expecting again and our first child is only 6 months old. Needless to say everyone is shocked and still reeling from the birth of our first child (totally unplanned and undetected until 6 1/2 months). We have accepted the news and have switched from unsettled to excited. How do we manage our families emotions while trying to enjoy the new pregnancy.
Congratulations! As BF Guru, another poster to this Forum, said to another mother: "These happy accidents are gems regardless of how they got into this world!"
I'm glad you've moved from unsettled to excited. I'm sure you've given thought and discussion to managing with two babies so close together, and you'll figure out how to make it work so that both kids get their needs met. The most important thing, of course, is to stay in a good mood yourself!
Your question is how to manage your families' emotions about this second pregnancy. I'll give you my advice, and I'd also love to hear from other moms who've been through this and have ideas for you.
I think your starting place has to be that you can't manage anyone else's emotions. That said, in any close relationship, listening to and acknowledging the other person's perspective in a nondefensive manner is the best way I know to help someone process their emotions.
So how do you stay happy and excited, rather than worried, if your families are expressing their worries and you are listening? Having another baby is a big deal, and naturally those who care about you will be both happy for you and concerned about how you will handle two babies so close together. In making the announcement, you might simply explain that you hadn't planned on another baby so soon, but you see this pregnancy as a gift and you intend to welcome this second baby with open arms. Then be quiet and listen.
If your announcement is met with dismay or concern, remind yourself that you and your fiance were initially unsettled as well. Your families might need a little time to work through their initial shock. If you can stay calm in the discussion, hear them out, and acknowledge their concerns, you will build a bridge.
For instance, you might say, "I hear that you're worried about whether we can handle two babies. Believe me, I have thought about this a lot, and I know that it will be an enormous amount of work. But my fiance is committed to being completely there whenever he's not at work, and I'm committed to taking really good care of my babies. And I know it's possible, after all, people with twins have it even rougher, with two newborns at once. I know you're concerned about our well-being. We certainly wouldn't have chosen this, but we already love this new baby, and we can't wait to meet her."
Then just give them some time. When the baby arrives, what grandparent could resist being there for both babies, as much as possible?
And as for staying excited yourselves, I think it's ok to admit your own ambivalence. It doesn't mean you don't love the new baby. It just means you're human, and naturally you're a bit worried. In fact, you might want to read this letter from another mom on this Forum who had a hard time letting herself admit her worries about a second baby found that her unwillingness to allow her full range of feelings actually made things more difficult for her.
My professional opinion is that it's always best to notice all our feelings, positive and negative, and just accept them, then pay attention to, and cultivate, the positive ones. So you might notice that you're a little worried today, and just say to yourself "Ok, sometimes I get worried about coping with two kids." But then you could add "But I adore this baby, and I know I will also adore the new baby, and I can't wait to hear them giggling together. Somehow, we will find the resources, inside and outside, that we need to be happy."
Then go look in the mirror and promise yourself that you'll take care of you, as well as the babies!