When our son was 9/10 months old, we fell pregnant again. I tried my best to carry on as normal. I assumed that the second pregnancy would be easier. LOL. I was still breastfeeding and I didn’t make the connection with the fatigue that afflicted me, with the fact that my children were literally sucking the life out of me.
Alliancepartner : you should ask your mum if it’s ok to still breastfeed when you’re pregnant. You’re always sick now.
Me: K *asks the internet instead*
I think, subconsciously, I avoided asking my mum because I didn’t want her to advise me to stop breastfeeding while pregnant, with morning sickness. I had told myself that I would breastfeed my son for at least a year, by fire by fost. I wasn’t going to let a pesky little thing like a debilitating first trimester get in the way.
I was so attached to breastfeeding. I felt so injured when BabyLeader took to his kiddie milk like mine wasn’t his very own, super special elixir. He didn’t care, hey. He took that sippy cup and never looked back. I wept.
Once I started showing, we began to tell him he’s going to have a sister. I was worried he didn’t understand what having a sibling meant, and I felt concerned that he would reject his sibling or feel abandoned when the new baby arrived. Everytime I spoke to him about his new sibling, I’d show him my belly and say “nana”. He’d respond by beating my belly like a drum and saying “nee-nee”.
I told alliancepartner that we need to get BabyLeader a doll so he can get used to the idea that there will be a small baby in the house. This boys and dolls issue became an ongoing conversation about gender roles, patriarchy, hypermasculinity, and why it’s important for us as a family to reject those structures and instill the values of ubuntu and feminism in our kids, and uphold them as a family.
The next big challenge was to find a black baby doll. We did, and it was ugly, but it would do. We introduced the doll to him, and he called it Neenee. Over the next few months, we all played with Neenee and he got into the idea of playing gently with, and nurturing a small person.
When Tiny Oga was born, we let him ‘find’ her on his own, rather than introduce her to him. I’d put her on the bed at the clinic, and he came into the room and, after exploring the new environment, he saw her on the bed and looked at her curiously, then said “nee-nee”, while rubbing her cheeks. When we took her home, he joined her on my lap and did the same thing.
Project Neenee was a huge success. He’s a nurturing, gentle and engaged older brother. He doesn’t feel threatened by her, nor does he feel abandoned or rejected. The name Neenee has stuck with our daughter, nobody uses her real names. BabyLeader continues to be a great dad to his doll.