5 Ways I prepared Yusra for Baby #2

Teach Independent Play

I don’t like playing with children. I thought that would change when I had my own. But it didn’t. There’s just something about playing with toys that bores the life out of me. But from day 1, we took it upon ourselves, to ‘play’ with Yusra. Imad read to her at every waking minute, we would shake toys in her face, and even began stuffing her in a flashy exersaucer as soon as she could hold her head up. And while these aren’t bad habits and were all forms of bonding – we never just let her be. The guilt of watching your child stare into space for modern day parents is something I thought was normal. Something that could be dealt with by simply engaging with your child. But 2 years flew by and I was still being forced to engage. I thought about being nauseaus while having to build blocks with Yusra. I thought was having a newborn on my breast while trying to lace beads with her. I was scared.

It wasn’t until I came across Jerrica Saranes that I knew my life could be different. Implementing this is what truly allowed me to be pregnant in peace. And when baby #2 came, I was allowed to breastfeed my baby without playing with my toddler.

Potty Train

Potty training is a milestone in any toddler’s life. How big of a change it must be to suddenly not pee or poop your pants while playing with your favourite toy! Because of this, I thought it was better to start as soon as possible. I became pregnant right before Yusra turned two. I began training as soon as she turned two. Before this, we always had a toilet shaped potty beside the bathroom, ready for her to explore her use when she pleased. She mostly used it as her baby’s bed. However, once she became more verbal, I became more strict. I started reading her potty training books. Being in my first trimester gave me ample amount of time (and space) to give Yusra a stress free potty training environment. She didn’t even know she was going to be a big sister at this point! 🙂 We made mistakes, we had fun, we sang songs, and we asked for lots of help! I’ll never forget the fear in her face when she pooped in her potty for the first time. She asked me for a diaper numerous times until I got in her face and started singing to distract her. After she’d gone, she looked at me like she’d just had an accident. It was only after I clapped that I saw a sigh of relief and accomplishment flash across her face. She’s been pooping diaperless since!

Yusra was a very fast potty trainee. I followed the 3 day no pants method and she was pooping and peeing in the potty in no time. She was easily distracted when people came over, but I thought better now then wait until baby was here to start… because what’s more distracting than a new baby that never leaves your house! I learned the hard way that toddlers regress tremendously when baby is born. I was ever so thankful to have potty trained her early knowing this. Diapers are expensive and I didn’t want to be wiping 2 butts several times a day.

Pacifier Weaning

Pacifier sizes stop at 18 months. Doctors tell you to stop by 12 months. Aunties tell you to never give them one to begin with. Oh, how the world hates pacifiers. But, my kid sure loved them. And so did I. It was a very strong form of comfort for her. She would cry and scream ‘ba!” and instantly calm down when she was given said ‘ba.’ But in the back of my mind, I knew I had to get rid of her paci before I gave birth and started giving baby pacifiers too. Germ swapping, ‘that’s mine!’ meltdowns, and just having two babies didn’t seem all too appealing after all. I did not like the pacifier fairy method though wherein you help your toddler pack away her pacis, a fairy comes and takes them and replaces them with a nice gift. I wasn’t about to teach my daughter about fairies. They are not real and if anyone needs a gift it should be me– for putting up with paci-weaning Yusra. After she turned two, I was at my parents house one day and I came back home without her only paci. It was bedtime and I felt screwed. I messaged my mom and she gave me very grandmotherly advice. “Keep telling her it’s at nanumoni’s house and she can’t have it.” It was honest. It was real. And it was like ripping off a Band-Aid. It was also the worst week of my life. Her sleep became like a newborn again as she would wake up several times a night asking for said paci. Each time, I reminded her it was at nanumoni’s house. I avoided going over to my mom’s house for weeks in fear she’d go looking for it. After the storm settled and I visited again, she did ask about it briefly but let it go when I told her we lost it. Come time when baby was born, and a few months after when we introduced a pacifier to him — Yusra had completely forgotten that she too, used to use one too. It was a bittersweet feeling to see her grow out of it. Pacifier faces are my favourite — seeing babies really takes away from them being babies.

Asking for help

I’ll admit, it’s very difficult for me to trust people with my child. I think about all the times she says something and only Imad and I understand what it is. I think about all the sleepy cues she gives without actually saying ‘I’m sleepy.” I think about whether she’s getting any screen time or if she’s being given candy. I think about how I could just be at home with her, catering to her needs myself instead of worrying if someone else is doing it “right”.

But when I was nauseous, the last thing I wanted to do was take my child to the potty. I didn’t want to cater to her needs. I was trying to keep my breakfast down. Come third trimester, as much as I want to pick her up when she politely asks ‘Mama, can you hold me?” – I really didn’t.

As difficult as it was, I learned to ask. I’d call my best friend over and go on date nights with my husband. I’d spend once a week and my mom’s house while I locked myself in my room and listened to her being spoiled by her Nanumoni and Nana. Then, I mustered up the courage to drop her off once in awhile. At first, it was for doctor’s appointments. Soon it became for ‘breaks’. It’s not like they were doing everything right with her while I was away. I definitely walked in a few times with the TV blasting while Yusra had a Smarties pack in one hand and a Kit Kat in the other. Did I die a little inside? Yes. But was I well rested and energized again? Yes.

Sleepovers at Grandma’s House

After I began getting comfortable with dropping her off, I started sending her for sleepovers. I didn’t want Yusra’s first sleepover at Grandma’s to be when I was at the hospital giving birth. It was something both her and I needed to get comfortable with. And we had 9 months to learn. The first night she was over, I messaged my mom before Yusra went to sleep, when she went to sleep, during the night asking if she woke up at all, and the next morning when she was awake. Soon, I would only message her in the morning. After a few times, I was able to wait until my mom messaged me first. I’m glad I did because when I needed to go give birth at 4 am, my mom was the one who came over and made sure she was there when my first baby woke up from her last night as an only child. Because she was so used to being with nanumoni already, she had no problem getting up and seeing her instead of me. They went to her house and spent the day there. While Imad and I spent the day with our new baby.

When Yusuf arrived, I must say — I think the steps I took really helped Yusra’s transition into a big sister. She did beautifully when he came home. We got them both matching gifts, and introduced him to her in a special way. I took her out on a date with just me and her a few days after. I let her (safely) be around baby as much as she wanted. The first night, she went to sleep at 1 am after dragging a chair into my bedroom and taking a seat in the middle of the carpet just to watch me breastfeed. I tried my best not to create a barrier between her and her new sibling. It was still extremely tough but setting the foundation early on (well before he was born) helped in the long run. Yusuf is obsessed with Yusra and Yusra loves it. That’s what I like to call – big sister entitlement. Let’s be real thought, she certainly is entitled to her big sister duties.