Dear Family Foxhole,
I’ve been an only child for 12 years now but that will all end this summer when my mother has a baby. I’m excited for her because she and my stepdad have been wanting to have a child for a few years now but weren’t able to get pregnant. Now that my mom is pregnant, I’m worried that the baby will be sick or have some other health problem or that my mom will die during pregnancy or childbirth. I know that these aren’t realistic concerns in the modern day USA, but I’m still worried and now I feel guilty about being worried because I don’t want to make my mom worried.
Trust me, your mom is already thinking about how to make sure that she and your new sibling are healthy! She is eating healthy, taking prenatal vitamins, and seeing her doctor regularly to monitor her and the baby’s health.
But you are right to be concerned. Even with modern medicine, people get sick, and accidents happen that affect our bodies. I say this not to scare you but to affirm that it’s both common and reasonable to have some worries about pregnancy.
You might not get over your worries between now and the arrival of the baby, but you can minimize them. Some ideas:
Talk to your health teacher, tour the hospital, or interview a midwife (who delivers babies), doula (who assists in the delivery, focusing on the mother), or obstetric (baby-delivery) nurse. You probably have some school project that you could use as an excuse to do this.
Ask your mom and stepdad to sign you up for a babycare/babysitting/child first aid class. The Red Cross in many towns offers these classes, and if you take them, you can charge people more for your babysitting services in the future!
Spend some time with people who have disabilities and people who love people with disabilities. Often times our worry with pregnancy is that something will be “wrong” with the baby and the baby will be born with an unusual physical feature, like cleft palate or spina bifida. Even though some of these physical features make life more challenging, there is no “wrong” way to have a human body!
I’ll be blunt: If you are worried about what would happen in the worst case scenario, ask your mother and stepdad what their plan would be in that case. It is not “bad luck” to think about how our lives would change if our loved ones died. In fact, your mom and stepdad have probably already thought about it and maybe just didn’t tell you. Ask them directly:
- Who would you live with if your mother died?
- Would your biological father take custody of you, or would you keep living with your stepdad?
- If your biological father took custody, would you still be able to see your stepdad and his side of the family?
- If the plan is that you would stay with your stepdad, has your mother done the paperwork to make sure that would happen?
- Would you keep living in this house and going to the same school, or would your stepdad want to move you closer to other members of your family?
- Would a grandparent or aunt or uncle come to live in your house to help take care of the baby? If your stepfather remarried, would you still get to live with him?
- What kind of person would your mother want to your stepdad to remarry if she died?
Ask them if they have all this in writing (a will), who their lawyer is, where the will is located, and who is the executor (the person who makes sure it is being carried out). If they tell you that you are being nosy, tell them that you are just being responsible. Maybe find some horrible cases of child custody battles on the internet to prove that they need to be prepared.
I like to drive my worries away with crafting. When you are focusing on something fun and positive, it’s harder to worry. Here are some fun ones:
Get the baby’s room ready! Paint the walls, the ceilings, the trim. Make a stencil or a stamper and go to town!
Make a baby quilt or crochet a baby blanket.
Give one of your favorite stuffed animals a makeover (wash, brush, fluff, stuff, and repair any holes) for the baby.
Once you know the name of the baby, make a collage of items for each letter. (If his name is “Tiger,” you’d make a collage of items starting with T, one starting with I, one starting with G, etc.) THEN cut each collage into the shape of that letter and paste it to a canvas. Hang it on the baby’s door.
Keep a diary of your own feelings that you can share with the baby one day.
Write letters to the baby, each with a different focus. (“Our family history,” “The town where you were born,” “What I think life will be like when you are 12”). Seal them in envelopes and write a future date on them when you think the baby should open them.
Make the pages of a baby book. Make a page where you can record his birthday, weight, and length. Make a page where you mom and stepdad can write down the story of his birth (when she went into labor, how long it took, etc.), Make pages where you will stick pictures of the baby’s first bath, first haircut, first tooth, etc.
Eek! All of these ideas make me so excited for you! Crafting for babies is so fun!