Hello Miss Faith,
I have a 2.75yo daughter and I’ve recently found out I’m pregnant again. Although we have been hoping for a new baby, I can’t shake my feelings of guilt at experiencing all this with someone other than my daughter. Lately I’ve felt not-so-good, and I’ve been taking more time for myself and I feel that this is causing more distance between my daughter and me as well. My poor girl seems like she needs to be reeled in, but I just can’t get her somehow. There must be a different lens to see all this through, but I am stuck and can’t find it.
The research on attachment has been really clear: children can absolutely be securely attached to more than one person, and in fact they benefit from having multiple secure attachments. This goes for both children and adults. Please don’t worry about your new baby replacing your daughter in any way; you will be amazed at the depth of the relationship you will have with each child. Get started now helping your daughter develop a relationship with this incoming baby, just like you might help a child get excited about an out-of-town grandparent coming to visit. Start telling her stories about your Star Baby (or whatever name) who is coming down to join your family, and how you and she are going to love it and take care of it together, when he or she arrives. Or if you want to be more scientific, I love the book Being Born by Sheila Kitzinger, which has beautiful photos of the fetus, week by week. It’s out of print now, but you can find it used on Amazon. You and she can start writing letters to your unborn child, and making presents together for him to save up for when he arrives…If you two can be excited together, the coming of the baby can actually be something that can bring you and your daughter closer together. Then when the baby comes, you and she can celebrate his arrival together, and celebrate each new achievement that baby makes as he grows. When your due date gets closer, read my post about New Sibling on the Way for ideas to help the transition, and other posts on Sibling Interactions as well.
As for now, I suggest that you stop connecting the fact that you need more time for yourself, with the new baby. You need more time to yourself because you’re tired and worn out, and it happens to be because you’re pregnant but it could happen for any number of reasons. Don’t feel bad about taking care of yourself, and you can absolutely stay connected to your daughter during this process.
Finally, get extra help in whatever ways you can. Having a middle school kid or a high school kid come over a few afternoons per week as a mother’s helper can be a very affordable way to give yourself some time to rest, and toddlers LOVE older kids because they can really play with them in a way that most adults no longer can.
Warmly, ~Miss Faith