“I’m 40 and pregnant with my 4th kid. Only my husband and a few friends know. My third son is just now approaching 1 year and while pregnant with him, I had family and friends commenting on how old I was. Now that I’m expecting again, how do I tell family that will be less than thrilled about baby #4 (this includes my oldest son, stepmom and other family members)?”
First my dear reader, congratulations on your pregnancy! Children are miracles and blessings regardless of the sacrifice that comes with them or opinions of those in their lives. Before we worry about what anyone else thinks, I’m curious how YOU feel about the bun in your oven. Are you excited? Scared? Disappointed or upset? Nervous? Hopeful? I ask because how you feel will affect how everyone else reacts to your news. If your underlying emotion is tinged with anxiety, anyone you share with will pick up on that emotion. If you are bursting with excitement (maybe this is a girl?!?) then it will be easier for them to get excited with you.
As for sharing this joyful news, don’t share it any earlier than you are comfortable. A lot can happen in a pregnancy and caution at over-sharing can sometimes be for the best. However, you don’t want to keep a secret for too long because then you’ll risk alienating those closest to you by not being honest with them.
If this is going to be your last babe, you may want to have some fun with sharing this information. Maybe do a ‘reveal’ party? Although these are typically for revealing the gender, maybe you have a party a bit earlier to celebrate the baby on the way? Or you reveal the gender and pregnancy at the same time to peripheral family and friends? Maybe you reveal your secret only to those closest to you on a special family outing?
Speaking of family, I would vote for sharing with your son and closest relatives before sharing with the peripheral relatives for two reasons: trust and trust. If you’ll be relying on anyone in your immediate family for support with the young-uns, you’ll want to make sure they’re on board the baby train with you sooner rather than later.
As for your oldest, being an oldest child myself, I can empathize with how he might feel. If he’s become a ‘mommy’s helper’ for you, I would strongly encourage you and your husband to discuss some alternatives to relying on your oldest. Although it is tempting to ask him for help, you might be putting more on his shoulders than should rest there. As the oldest he’s already keenly aware of responsibility in general and what specific responsibilities are required of him. Putting too much on his shoulders may leave him growing up to feel like he always has to be the responsible one. This isn’t necessarily bad for his future (he’s more likely to focus on his education, find a good job and drive himself to achieve more), but it could be bad for his self-image and just isn’t fair to him. He also could run the other way, away from responsibility! Playing caretaker can also leave him confused about his role. If he’s reinforcing family rules, baby-sitting and caring for his younger siblings, it will be easy for him to feel like a parent. But then when dad comes home and reminds him he’s not the dad, inside it will lead to confusion (“but… I was just acting like the dad…”).
What’s the antidote to the responsible older sibling syndrome? Making sure he has time for fun and to be ‘free’ of responsibility at least once a day or a few times a week. Part of sharing the news with your oldest should include some plan you and dad have already discussed that ensures he will still have time to be a kid. If you can ensure him that, I think he’ll be happy to jump on the baby train with you.
Although how you tell everyone is important, I think it’s less important than how you handle their reactions and the weeks and months to follow. You may need to be thick skinned for a few months. Once the baby comes, those baby hormones will probably bring everyone else around to jumping on the baby train.
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