Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Countdown to number three

The difference in priorities with the addition of each child is evident in the ways in which we've prepared for them. This time around I hardly feel like our preparations have anything to do with the actual child that will be joining our family in mid April or sooner (hopefully).

With the first born, obviously, everything is new. You have no idea what you'll actually need versus what you have stocked up when the baby arrives. For Danny, we prepared ourselves well for child birth, stockpiled plenty of clothing, blankets and other baby gear and tried to wrap our heads around caring for a newborn. The culture shock was nothing short of, well, shocking. It took me about three months to adjust to the new normal in our house.

With Fiona, our main preparations seemed to be getting Danny into a big boy bed, finding some pink clothes, learning about and stocking up on cloth diapers and preparing for our first homebirth. When Fiona arrived, she was a much calmer baby with a much cooler, more collected set of parents. The transition was smoother than I had imagined, as evident by my reaction to my first day alone with the kids. In short, I was completely unfazed by my crying newborn in the grocery store who refused to be carried in anything but my arms.

With this baby, who my husband just calls "Carl" (even though we don't know the sex), our main preparations have centered on teaching our older two some very valuable self-help skills.

Danny has been buckling the top half of his car seat buckle while I come behind to check it and snap in the bottom. This weekend, Jim rearranged the car seats in our van and added the baby's seat. Now Fiona can climb into her own car seat and we're teaching Danny how to buckle her seat belt. Judging by how quickly she catches on, though, she may figure it out before he has a chance to do it for her. Today she reached her little arms back to find the shoulder straps.

Since January, I've been working with Danny on dressing himself. He now gets himself out of bed in the morning, goes potty and can dress himself down to the socks while I verbally coach and check on him from the bottom of the stairs. Whew, just in time ... I get ridiculously winded going up and down the stairs these days. Some mornings, I have to chuckle, though, as I find myself doing something my mother used to do. When she didn't get an answer after calling up the stairs for us, she'd bang on the wall. Even Fiona "helps" me get her dressed. She puts her arms out to find the arm holes and climbs into a chair when I say it's time to get shoes on.

We're really lucky that she and her brother have such independent spirits. Once they learn to do something, it seems that they don't want to accept help. Some days that's a liability as each step in a routine can take a few minutes longer as they struggle to put their own socks on or climb into their own car seat. In the long run, though, it's a huge asset for us and for their self-esteem.

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