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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Third trimester, school!

This goes along with the other new sibling preparations.

Besides the things I wrote about here, enrolling the Guajolotita #1 in school was absolutely part of preparing her for her new sibling.

I decided that the Guajolotita was ready for some outside-the-home activities. She loves to be with other kids and I think she could use more stimulation than what she was getting with our babysitter. If I was home with her, I might have felt differently because I would appreciate the things we did together more than the activities the babysitter did with her. (Sometimes I thought the babysitter's idea of a fun/educational activity were absolutely idiotic.)
  • we enrolled the Guajolotita in school. We started visiting schools the first week of the second trimester. We visited 5 schools and picked one, submitting our application and deposit a few weeks before the start of the third trimester.
  • we talked a lot about school during that searching time. The Guajolotita's cousin is 2 years and 9 months older than she is, and after being at our house for childcare started school before this pregnancy was public. Our babysitter would pick him up from school - so the Guajolotita was very accustomed to the idea that kids go to school. She'd seen his school and been in the building to pick him up. So she was excited to be doing the same thing as her idolized older cousin.
  • After submitting our deposit, the week we left on vacation, we took her to visit her new school. She stayed almost an hour and I took some photos of her with her teachers and classmates. I made a little multi-image print, with several copies and the names of her teachers. We took this with us on vacation and reminded her about her experience. She learned the names of her teachers and gave a copy to each set of family we visited - a little kid-souvenir for them, and a chance to take ownership of her coming new experience for her.
  • She's been home full-time since birth with Abuela or a babysitter. She's used to running around with other kids at the park and at the library every day for a couple of hours. We started her with 3 hrs/day, every morning, 5 days a week. The adjustment was hard.
  • Our babysitter left us and my suegra's schedule only allows her to get the Guajolotita from school after 3pm. So we extended her day and she is at school 6 hrs/day, 5 days a week. This adjustment was absolutely easy. I still feel guilty about this though.
I really think that she was ready for school anyway - perhaps one or two hours a day, two or three days a week. However, the schools all said that consistency and routine are best for the child. MWF different from T/Th would just make the adjustment harder. I think they are right.

The upside to starting her in school a bit earlier, and for longer, than I might otherwise have done had I not been pregnant, is that when I am home on maternity leave - sleep deprived, nursing around the clock, washing 1000 diapers - the Guajolotita will be having fun with her friends, working on projects at school, and go to the park every day. Her naptime will be uninterrupted by any baby crying. Her life will continue to have some normalcy instead of every moment being upended by the baby.

I will get to have some alone time with this new baby, hopefully get dishes and laundry done while she is at school, and then when she comes home I can have some quality Guajolotita #1 time and not feel guilty about "neglecting" the infant (as I've read there is a lot of guilt about focusing on one child at a time).

Also, when I go back to work at 12 weeks and our new babysitter starts, that babysitter will also have time to get to know this new baby, and perhaps do a load of laundry, before picking up the Guajolotita #1 from school and playing with her.

I am excited about maternity leave and picking up the Guajolotita from school myself for those months. I am hoping my suegra wants to come over sometimes and have time with the new baby while I WALK to pick up the kid from school and hopefully bring her home in the jogging stroller. Postpartum fitness, quality time with Kid 1, grandma gets to have Kid 2 all to herself - win for everyone!

Preparing Guajolote #1 for Guajolote #2

These are the things we've been doing to try and help the Guajolotita be able to adjust to being a big sister. She'll be about 2 years and 2 weeks old when the Guajolotito #2 is born:

First trimester:

  • we moved her out of the crib and onto a floor mattress in late July, before I even knew I was pregnant.
  • we never took down the crib or allowed her to play in/with it.
  • way back when we told our parents I was pregnant, around 11 weeks of pregnancy in September, we started calling the pink-painted bedroom where the Guajolotita sleeps "el cuarto de los niños" ("the kids' room") instead of "Guajolotita's room" "your room" etc. Stuff like, "Put your shoes away in the kids' room." She was not quite 18 months and started calling it that right away.
  • We took her to the 13 week NT-scan ultrasound to see her "hermanito"

Second trimester:

  • The cutest thing ever about "un bebe en mi pancita" is that after her bath, as we are putting her pajamas on her, she would grab her own round little belly and tell us that she had a baby in her belly. She'd pat mine and talk about it then grab her own and talk about it the same way. Just hilarious and so adorable. She went on to tell Papi and Abuelo that they also had babies in THEIR bellies. Her Abuelo had a good time talking to her about what WAS in fact in his belly: cerveza, pizza, papaya, etc. and also about what was in hers: papaya, carnitas, etc.
  • she started to interact a great deal with my belly. She pulled up my shirt, caressed it, hugged it, kissed it, talked to it: "Hola hermanito!" and "Hermano o hermana, no sabemos!" were the two things she said the most.
  • I gave her one of the diaper covers (we cloth diaper) for her stuffed animals. She has a stuffed bear that became "el oso con pañal" and she was always undiapering it and asking for "Ayuda!" to put it back on.
  • her Abuela gave her a baby doll and toy stroller. It's a very nice toy. She loved marching back and forth with it. The babysitter taught her to put the baby and her shoulder, pat her back, rock her, and shush her to sleep.
The babysitter also taught her to change the baby's diaper - lots and lots of toilet paper used in this process for a few days! She'd put the baby crossways on top of the open disposable diaper, then run to the bathroom for a square of toilet paper. She wiped at the baby's still-clothed behind, then ran to the bathroom, threw the toilet paper in the toilet, grabbed another square... like 15 times per episode.
  • She started to share with my belly too. If she was eating strawberries, she'd lift up my shirt and pretend to feed my bellybutton. She would ask to read "con el hermanito". She shared toys, for instance "compartir el rompecabezas con el hermanito" by putting the puzzle pieces on top of my belly as she sat on my lap to do a puzzle. (She still spoke in infinitives about half the time at this age.)

Third trimester:

  • we bought a little kid-sized drawer set and put her clothes in it. She can reach all of the drawers easily and put her own clothes away (with some supervision, but she doesn't need physical help). The dresser that matches the crib is empty of her things. Around Week 36 or so I figure to wash the baby clothes and she can help me put them away.
  • we bought kid-friendly coat hooks and hung them on her door, the bathroom door, and the front door at the highest height she could reach. This is to give her more autonomy. She hangs her own hand towel and dries her hands herself, gets and puts away her own coat, and has her own drawer in the shoe cabinet by the front door that she can put her shoes in herself.
  • at this point, my belly is her property. She tells strangers that her "hermanito" is in there when we are out. Anything she is doing, she expects to be able to incorporate her "hermanito".
  • We are trying hard to remind her "hermanito, un nino con pene, o una hermanita, una nina con vulva" (bad translation at that link! vulva is the same in Spanish and English!) We do ask her if she thinks it might be one or the other. She usually says "hermanito" but I think that's just because it's the first part of the phrase. We'll find out in 6 weeks...
  • we got these books: I'm a Big Sister! When You Were Inside Mommy, and The New Baby at Your House. We skip parts of all of these stories and just talk about the pictures on some pages - they address some of the negative feelings that a small child may have when a sibling is born: jealousy, regression, etc. If the Guajolotita #1 starts to do those things, it will be useful to have those books to talk about them but for right now we are keeping it positive.
  • We bring her to almost all midwife visits. We told her she will hear the corazon de su hermanito, and she seemed to start to understand around week 30. She talked all the way there about it, she was very excited - and when the midwife put the doppler on my belly and turned the speaker towards her, you could see the wheels turning: she looked at my belly and at the speaker and at me, again and again, with these big eyes. She talked about it for days afterwards too. She'd heard the heartbeat on the doppler before, but I think we'd just told her that the sound was her hermanito - this time the different phrasing (and her getting just a bit older and understanding more) seemed to make a difference.

Preparations not yet undertaken:

  • Week 36? install infant carseat so she gets used to having a roommate in the back seat, having to get in and out of the car on the driver's side, etc.
  • Week 37? get out/put together the baby gear: bouncy seat, co-sleeper, diapers&changing pad, tummy time mat, rock-n-play sleeper. So she learns that these are not toys, they are only for the baby.
  • Week 36? Wash and put away the baby clothes.
  • I'd like for her to learn how to dress herself some more. She can almost do her undies & socks & shoes herself, and she can take off most of her shirts herself. She's learning to pull her pants down too. I think with some focus she can learn to do at least her undies and pants on and off mostly herself.
  • We need a way for her to eat at the dining table with us. Right now all 3 of us eat at her kid-sized table in the kitchen - which only has space really for 2 toddlers. Add a baby to one toddler and two adults and there's just no way.
  • She needs to learn to fall asleep without someone immediately next to her bed. She's starting to object less if I move from the chair next to her bed to the glider in her room. I figure I'll be sitting in there nursing a baby anyway so it's OK for her to expect someone to be there, but she needs to accept that I won't be immediately next to her bed.
  • What else?!?