When my husband and I got pregnant with our first child together, my step-son was seven years old, and my step-daughter was four. We had talked to them a few times about bringing a little brother or sister into our family, since it was something we had always planned to do. We wanted to get them used to the idea. We were pretty lucky, as they were thrilled with the prospect of another sibling. My step-son was hoping for a brother, and my step-daughter was wishing for a sister.
When we announced our pregnancy, they were thrilled! We immediately began to involve them as much as possible in preparing for the baby. Every week, I received an email letting me know how big the baby was in comparison to a fruit or vegetable. For example, “This week, your baby is the size of an apple.” I started telling the kids what the emails said, and each week they would get so excited to hear how big the baby was. We even tried to buy the fruit or vegetable in that week to give them a real example. They just loved that!
We decided to bring the kids to one of my ultrasounds, so that they could see their baby brother or sister, and hear the heartbeat. They were so excited! It was amazing to see their little faces fill with wonder as they watched the baby moving around on the screen. It was such a special moment for all of us, and I think it made the fact that we were adding a little bundle of joy to our family even more real.
When I was twenty weeks along, we found out that we were having a BOY! My step-son was absolutely thrilled, and immediately started talking about how his little brother was going to be just like him. He was certain that he would love hockey and collecting coins too. This melted my heart. And, after initially shedding some tears, my step-daughter was excited too. We still joke about her reaction to this day. The kids wanted to be the ones to announce the news to our families, so we let them, of course. It was such a happy day.
Around my seventh month, we had maternity pictures taken, and decided to include the kids. We have so many beautiful photos from that session. My favorite has to be where they are resting their little hands on my stomach. I am so glad that we included them in these pictures, and reminded them that we are one big family. We never wanted them to feel like they were just Daddy’s kids, or that this baby would be treated differently because he was mine too.
The kids wanted to have a gift to give the baby when he was born, so my husband came up with the idea of painting small canvases for the baby’s room. They absolutely loved that idea, and I’m a total sucker for children’s artwork, so that’s what they did. The canvases turned out perfect, and they were the first things that we hung in the baby’s room. The kids were so proud of themselves.
I had read about the idea of giving your children “sibling bags” at the hospital while they are waiting for their brother or sister to be born. I thought this was a great idea, so my husband and I made one for each of them. We gave them “Big Brother” and “Big Sister” shirts to wear, along with a few little toys and activities to keep them busy at the hospital. They went over really well!
My step-daughter came to my baby shower with me, of course, with some books for the baby that she picked out herself. My husband and step-son came later, surprising me with flowers. That night, he “helped” my husband put the baby’s furniture together. We were ready to meet this little guy!
When my son was born, my step-kids came to the hospital with their sibling bags, wearing their “Big Brother” and “Big Sister” shirts. They could not contain their excitement. Watching them hold their little brother for the first time was such an amazing moment. It still brings tears to my eyes. They were so happy! I know that we all felt that this little boy was the perfect addition to our family.
An important fact that I think should be noted is that we never have used the term “half-brother” or “half-sister” in this house. Brother and sister. That’s it. We have never felt that there needed to be that distinction. I’ve never heard my kids or my step-kids say “half” either, so I’m pretty sure they’re not even familiar with the term. And we’re ok with that.
I really feel that involving my step-kids as much as possible, every step of the way, helped to eliminate a lot of the uncertainty and possible jealous feelings that come along with a new sibling. These emotions are common when introducing a new sibling into ANY family, but can be much more pronounced in a blended family. This is why you want to address any feelings your step-kids might have about this addition. You want them to know that yes, a baby will change things, but it won’t change your relationship with them or the relationship they have with their biological parent.