I am the youngest child in my family and I have one big sister four years elder. Since when I was a child, my mom has always told me the funny story about my sister when I was born. Apparently she thought I came from the hospital as she cried and and insisted that my mom should return me to the nurses to come home with her! Well, it's been well thirty years since I knew that story but I never fully empathized with my sister as much as this year, when I expected my second baby.
Becoming a big sister/brother is a big change and having the first child Bean made me realize how scary it could be for her: a transition from being the one-and-only love to sharing mom with another one, and potentially demoted as secondary! In Vietnam where I am from, we have a common saying that once the baby is born, the big brother/sister will "go to the margin" - i.e. becoming marginal (now that I can see from Bean's perspective, how cruel of adults to keep saying that to the poor little children!!!) Among the many worries of pregnancy, I was actually most worried about my three-year-old toddler: how she would cope with the change and feel ok about having a new baby, how much time and attention I could give her when baby arrives, and even ridiculously, how would I ever love the new baby as much as I love my Bean now??? (I took her to see the latest Pixar movie on this subject, The Boss Baby, which didn't exactly help her either).
So I decided to make a little play book for Bean which would help her visualize how it is to have a baby arriving. It would explain where baby comes from (mommy's belly!), and include some baby activities she would see around the house such as drinking milk, changing diapers, sleeping in a moses basket and getting dressed in onesies... (onesies are a must as my little one got so excited about it for some reason!) so she could get used to it. It would be fun and interactive, something that keeps her busy and engaged too (what's the point of quiet books if not these!)
From my very clumsy handwritten sketches to proper blueprint drawing by my talented designer, to production by my team of makers, the book came to life over the summer before my baby was born. Complete with moses basket, milk bottles, diapers, onesies, and even mom’s big belly with a baby inside (peek-a-boo style!) I am very happy with the result! I assume Bean was too as she started to role-play with the felt baby and had some good giggles, and seemed very excited about the baby arriving (her teacher said she bragged about it at school all the time). She calls it the “love” book because the book cover is decorated with red hearts :)
I’ve also learned so much about the etiquettes towards new siblings when researching for the book. Such as, I now know when a kid says she’s expecting a little brother/sister, I should shower her with congratulations (and of course not the “go to the margin” nonsense as it’s been commonly said in Vietnam). And ask her about the baby. And to always include a gift for her when I give gifts to the newborn.
The "I love my baby" book is now available in both “big brother” and “big sister” editions – and I would love to hear feedback especially from other expectant moms/dads and those who’ve been there! If you want to order a book from my online store, please use code LOVEBABY for 10% discount (until October 1, 2017).
Happy ending - from book to reality after our number 2 was born!
See the full video of the book below