February 2024 Moms

Big brother and bonding with newborn - hoping for some reassurance!

This question hurts my heart to even write, but I'm hoping someone out there can relate and/or offer some words of advice because I'm really struggling. My second son was born last week and at the beginning I was so happy and optimistic. But as soon my firstborn came to visit in the hospital, my feelings started changing. Over the past week, I've been sobbing on and off over this and I don't know what to do. I feel so guilty for bringing our newborn into our home because my first son is not happy about it. He is only 23 months old and doesn't say many words yet, so it's hard to tell exactly what he is feeling, but if I had to guess I think he is grieving being the only child. I imagine that he is sad and hurt that our attention is not 100% on him now, and that our routines have been shaken up. I feel like he is confused, sad, and both mad at me and also extra clingy at the same time. It breaks my heart.

So, on one hand I'm feeling so extremely guilty for turning his little world upside down. I feel such an intense love for him right now, it's almost like I'm just now realizing it or something. Like, I have always loved him, but now it feels even more intense and all-consuming. And then on top of these feelings, I'm also feelings guilty for not having equal feelings toward my newborn. Of course, I love my newborn and caring for him, but I don't feel a deep connection. If I'm honest (and this KILLS me to admit, but I need to put it out there), I almost feel a little resentful that our newborn is encroaching on my relationship with my firstborn  It's horrible, I know. I feel like a terrible mother but I just can't help how I'm feeling. I wish I could! I'm not sure if this is just "baby blues" and postpartum hormones still settling. I'm sure that's part of it. But I am so worried that it's something more permanent. What if I am not capable of loving my newborn as much as my first? What if my firstborn would have been happier as an only child? Have I ruined his life? Will he resent me for having a second child? Will be firstborn resent me for loving my firstborn more than him? Ugh, I'm awful. Please, someone tell me they have felt this way too and that it gets better. I feel so overwhelmed and unsure of everything right now.

Re: Big brother and bonding with newborn - hoping for some reassurance!

  • taylorsmith2taylorsmith2 member
    edited March 5
    Congratulations Mama! I’m sorry you’re experiencing these emotions. I too welcomed my second child recently (Feb 7th) and introduced our newborn to our 23 month old son. I don’t have much guidance to offer but I can share some solidarity to your mindset- my focus is 99% on my toddler and my newborn is such an after-thought. I didn’t feel as attached to my second after delivery. I cater my days to my fun loving toddler and hope the baby just sleeps and eats. I miss spending time with my toddler. I tried spending time with him and he essentially tells me no; that I should hold the baby. He wants my husband at all times. I know it is a temporary phase and he just can’t express his feelings. I think it’s sweet that in attaching to my husband he found a way to feel secure with this change, and I kind of love that he recognizes the baby needs me. I try to applaud / celebrate that behavior so he knows what he is feeling and doing is valid. I’ve also heard from countless mom’s this is very very normal. (My brother called me a “yucky baby” when my mom brought me home in 1990 lol and we had the most amazing childhood and are adult best friends). 

    I’ve started incorporating “family” time and setting aside activities for all of us to do together. For example, in the evening we do tummy time with the newborn and I encourage my toddler to “show” the newborn how to do it and to cheer the baby on. I let my toddler show off some tumbling moves and thank him for being such a good teacher. 

    Not sure any of this is helpful but i do think the fact that your firstborn is being expressive (even if negatively) shows he feels safe and secure. You definitely didn’t “ruin” your family by any means. I believe that when you really love something and are proud of it, you want to share it and show it off to the world..and how beautiful that you get to introduce your toddler and your love for him to this new babe. :)  
  • Thank you SO much for your reply <3 It is comforting to hear you've had similar struggles, especially with a toddler the same age! And that you also are more focused on your toddler than your newborn - makes me feel so much better because I feel I am doing the same for much of the time. Sometimes by the end of the day all I want is to cuddle by newborn after my toddler goes to sleep because I feel like I haven't had a chance to spend time with him all day.

    It's sweet that your toddler is bonding more with your husband, too! Although I know it's probably bittersweet for you. Mine has his moments with my husband but he is still mostly attached to me and gets upset when I give any attention to the baby, which is tough because I hate to see him upset and I also feel guilty not bonding more with my newborn. So, I guess it's just hard all around no matter how your first child reacts!

    I'm definitely going to steal your ideas about tummy time and creating family activities - that sounds so cute! I started trying the whole strategy of involving him in taking care of the baby by giving him little "jobs" like handing me diapers/wipes, but he hasn't been too interested. But maybe it just takes time.

    Thank you again for offering your advice and support! Since we are in similar situations, I'd love to keep in touch if you want so we can support each other during the tough days :) 
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  • I had my second son 3 weeks ago and a little different with my 22 month old but similar at the same time. My toddler has become extremely emotional and loves his brother but has started regressing in everything. I hear it’s very normal as they adjust and I am telling myself he’s growing too-learning he’s not the center of the universe, it’s good for his development even if it’s painful now (much like the pains of caring for 2 versus 1)…I’m struggling a lot with the extra care and exhaustion and low patience and actually feel somewhat of a preference toward my 2nd born cause my first born is so difficult right now. I miss bonding with him but it seems like every time I try he’s testing me and having tantrums/bad attitude and I end up preferring snuggling my sweet 2nd one. He’s high energy right now too and I’m still slow moving post partum so it’s just so much more work to engage with him right now. I also feel guilty but know I need to have so much grace in this season and they usually adapt in a few months. It’s so beneficial to have siblings, even if hard at first, and if it helps, my dad threw an ash tray at his mom for bringing home his first brother, lol, but they became best friends. Two year olds have a hard time regulating in general but it’s definitely an adjustment and those emotions are BIG—but short lived. Hang in there mama. I’m with you. 
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