Peeing on that stick and seeing that faded happy face in the little window appear was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. However, that moment of sheer joy in my bright white bathroom was quickly bombarded by another thought – how the f*%$ I going to tell me step kids?!
Getting along with your step kids is one thing, but having to break the news to them that you are pregnant with their half brother/sister is another thing. In the minds of these children, you’ve already barged into their lives and partially stolen their father, now you are taking it even further and burdening them with a sibling that may serve as more competition for them.
When I found out I was pregnant, things between the step kids and I were actually great. We were living together full time so I feel like our bonding time was very much accelerated and life was just dandy. My husband and I were planning to get pregnant someday but we did not expect it to happen SO quickly. Since we were quite surprised, I was prepared for the step kids to be floored.
My biggest concern about telling them was that they would feel excluded. Maybe a new baby between their father and I would make them old news? Obviously I didn’t think that but these were little kids.
So I wracked my brain and tried to think of a fun way to share the baby news. I concluded that kids love two things more than anything: gifts and feeling special (wait that sounds a lot like me too…). Therefore, the mall was my first stop. I bought each step child a little gift (nothing crazy) and had it wrapped all fancy. Next, in order to make them feel special and reassure them that they will be cherished more than ever with the arrival of this baby, I wrote a letter to each step child from the perspective of the unborn baby. Sounds creepy but I managed to make it cute. For my step daughter, who is the younger one of the two step children, I talked about how this is going to be her first time as an older sibling and how much of a role model she is going to be. For my step son, I talked about how he has already proven to be an amazing big brother to his sister for so many years and how lucky the baby feels to be able to call him big brother too. Both of my step kids were in tears when they read their letter. Happy tears! And of course the gifts went over well too!
Furthermore, throughout the pregnancy I was sure to include them as much as possible. When finding out the gender of the baby I had the doctor write girl or boy on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope. I took it home, sat the family down, and had everyone write down their guess with a reason for their guess. Then we read each one aloud, shared some laughs, and opened the envelope together. It was such a joyful, memorable evening, for all of us.
I also found that having a special little nickname for the baby while in my tummy was helpful. We called ours “Cashew” and it made all references to the baby so much less threatening to the step kids. Bringing my step kids to doctors appointments, baby shopping and baby shower planning meetings was all part of the fun. Even though it felt like extra work or a bit intrusive at times, including my step children in every step of the way paid off in the long run.
Our little cashew who is now more of a little peanut, is turning 2 this June. Despite the big age gap between my step kids and biological daughter, there are no gaps in their relationships. These three kids are bonded so tightly and our family, although blended, could not be any closer. Taking the time, thought and effort to make the giant transition of bringing a new family member in is so worth it. Every time I overhear one of my step kids introduce the baby as their sister, my heart swells up. Saying half sister never even crosses their mind.