Bringing Home Baby: Ryleigh’s Baby Sister
When we found out that we were expecting, my husband and I wondered what sex our little bundle would be, but not Ryleigh, my (then) 4-year-old daughter. She said that she was going to have a baby sister.
We waited, not so patiently, for the first 20 weeks to pass until it was the day for our gender ultrasound and guess what? Ryleigh was right; we were expecting a baby girl!
I was thrilled for Ryleigh to have a baby sister but also nervous, too. How would I make sure that Ryleigh didn’t feel left out? Ryleigh is my daughter and my husband’s step daughter. Her father and I have shared custody, so she spends every other week with us. Having a younger sibling would be hard on any child, but I was afraid it would be extra difficult on Ryleigh.
We did our best to include her in as much as possible. She got a special big girl job at the baby shower, she helped paint Lilah’s nursery, and she was included in our maternity shoot. Ry was very excited about her new baby sister, but jealousy was beginning to creep up more and more.
I tried to spend extra time with just Ryleigh and let her know that she would always be my baby, no matter what.
When Lilah’s due date was right around the corner, I took Ryleigh shopping at Babies ‘R Us to buy a special gift for the baby, from her. She picked out an adorable lady bug lovie (that Lilah still sleeps with every night). We wrapped it up and I told her that she could bring it to Lilah in the hospital.
I wasn’t sure if Ryleigh would be with us the week that I went into labor with Lilah, but it just so happened that she was.
She was actually in bed asleep when I realized that I was ready to go into the hospital (it was around 1 a.m. when I decided that this was it).
My sister-in-law came to pick up Ryleigh and take her back to her house while we went to the hospital. She had her own special overnight bag packed and she was ready to go.
Lilah was born at 11:12 am. I had talked with Lindsay (my sister in law) while I was in labor to check on Ryleigh, who was happily enjoying her late night sleep over and snow day from preschool (there was a couple inches of ice the night I went into labor and it only got worse as the night progressed).
We decided that Ryleigh would come with my father-in-law a couple hours after Lilah was born, so I had a bit of recovery time.
When Ryleigh finally arrived to meet her sister, she came in shyly. She had a big smile on her face and her gift wrapped present for her baby sister (Lindsay and she wrapped it before she came to the hospital).
We let her hold her baby sister (with lots of pillows around, of course) and she was so proud. She was very excited for Lilah to “open” her gift and she was even more excited that Lilah had gotten her a gift.
This is the part where I would love to say that they “lived happily ever after” but that’s just not quite the case.
I knew that Ryleigh’s living situation could just intensify jealousy, since with her only being here part-time, it’s impossible for her not to feel left out sometimes. We went through a tough adjustment period.
It was hard for her to share attention with a newborn and to get used to not being the baby anymore at mama’s. I found that constant positive reassurance and finding a few extra moments a day can make all the difference in the world to Ryleigh.
Now that Lilah is 15 months, she and Ryleigh get along great.
Ryleigh always refers to Lilah as her “baby sister” and is very protective of her. She loves playing with her and “helping “ me with her (like getting her diapers, holding her hand outside, keeping an eye on her in her playroom —which is all gated off — while I go to the bathroom, etc).
I also have special activities I do with just Ryleigh a couple times a week. We like to paint each other’s toenails (she’s actually better at it than I am), we read a chapter book together every night after Lilah goes to bed, and we try and have just one activity during the weekend that is just for Ryleigh and me (i.e. the movies).
I think that Ryleigh and Lilah have adjusted well to our family life and Ryleigh is especially excited for baby bug (#3) to arrive in January.
She is saying that she will have a baby brother this time so we’ll see if she is right again.
I guess my best advice with older siblings, especially in blended families, is to always try and find time to make them feel extra special and included.