Preparing for childbirth is a huge hit and miss activity. There’s only so much planning, reading, preparation and thought you can put into it, and then you have to step back and let nature do her thing. Now throw a toddler in the mix and you have a whole new ball game.
I’ve been planning and preparing a home birth in the hope of having my two year old daughter present. We’ve read books to prepare. We’ve spoken about it. We’ve watched birth videos. I tried to do yoga with her in the room. She rode me like a donkey. Really. There’s just no accounting for a two year old’s frame of mind. So really, when it comes to planning to have a toddler at the birth of a sibling, it’s taken every ounce of my pre-child project and event management professional experience to come up with a plan. And in true project management style, here’s a graph to show you what I’ve realised:
Jokes aside though, that 1% that I have ‘under control’ includes having someone here to keep Ameli entertained when I go into labour and need my husband by my side. As I write this I’m having random contractions, and my ‘person’ – my sister – is still six days from arriving to look after Ameli!
I have, however, done what I can to prepare. I’ve prepared a Birth Activity Bag with some things that I know with supervision and attention will keep Ameli busy for some time. Since I have no idea how long labour will be, and I have no idea whether she’ll be awake or not, I have no idea if there’s enough here, or too much, but whatever’s left over will be great to share together and keep her entertained while I’m learning to breastfeed a new baby. (By the time you read this, I may have answers to all these questions!)
In our Birth Activity Bag, we have:
- A colouring book of trains with wax crayons
- A colouring and sticker book – Ameli loves stickers and they can keep her busy for hours. There are only about twenty stickers for this book, and I’m still tempted to buy her another, bulkier pack of stickers.
- An unusual ‘pop out’ book. She can pop out all the pieces and build a 3D carousel. This one will need a bit of guidance, but once it’s built I imagine she’ll have great fun playing with it for a while.
- A six-in-one box of puzzles I’ve taken out and individually wrapped so that she can be given them separately over time.
- A construction kit which will require supervision, but should be fun too.
- Dyed Pasta for threading
- A sticker pack, which I’m sure will end up all over the pool, lounge and house!
- A prepared jar of cake mix, so you can bake a birthday cake together for baby in early labour.
These are all things we’ve bought new for the occasion, but in reality, they don’t have to be.
- I’ve also put a few LEGO pieces in a baggie as LEGO always provides a few minutes of fun
- I will also add the homebirth books we’ve been reading so she can look at them during the birth, for comparison, so to speak!
- a digital camera (for a slightly older child – I’d worry Ameli might dip it in the birth pool!)
- a photo book of the older child with plenty of pictures of them with mama and daddy – something to look through together.
- a paddling pool next to the birthpool for her to pop in and out of.
- a favourite DVD, a bag of ready made popcorn and refreshing drink.