Abigail has no clue that we're having a baby. No matter how many times we discuss it, she is positive that my giant belly has nothing to do with babies. She is so certain that she won't even sign "baby" upon hearing me say the word in relation to my belly. She won't get it until we walk through the front door with a baby in the car seat.
But I'm not the least bit worried. I predict the transition from "only child" to "big sister" will be a flawless one for Abigail.
When we're at church and a baby cries, Abigail holds out her arms in the direction of the tears. When we're out and she hears a baby, she signs/says "baby" and points to where she heard the noise. When we go to playdates and a baby is present, she won't leave it's side. She will not stop hugging her baby cousin when we see him. We bring home the free baby magazines they give away at the doctor's office and she looks at them several times a day until the bindings fall apart. Her baby dolls are some of her favorite toys. And she loves the kitties so much that when we round the corner to our apartment complex entrance, she starts saying "Puff Puff"and pointing.
I predict a baby will be the greatest gift we could possibly give Abigail. A friend of mine put it perfectly: She's going to be a little mother hen. I predict she will be extraordinarily attentive to this baby's every cry, whimper, squeak - annoyingly attentive, in fact. I think she'll say, "Mumma, baby!" over and over again until I stop what I'm doing and pacify her little sister.
I foresee Abigail being extremely possessive over her sister and whatever "tasks" we assign her. I suspect that if I ask her to hand me a diaper, for example, she'll get mad if I ever reach for a diaper by myself again. I think she will constantly want to hug, kiss, and hold this baby. I think she'll be very attentive if someone else holds her, and I think she'll get upset when I take the baby out for a trip without Abigail, when Matt takes Abigail out to run an errand, or if I take Abigail out without the baby.
I think Abigail's imaginative play with her dolls is going to explode once she sees me with the baby. Right now, playing with the babies involves giving them hugs and kisses, putting them to sleep, feeding them, and brushing their hair. That's it. I think by this summer, she'll be changing pretend diapers, burping, playing with them with toys, dressing them, and pushing them around in her toy stroller. I predict we'll buy her a doll carrier by or for Christmas.
I do not think jealousy will be a problem. Not because Abigail has some sort of magic Down Syndrome Super Love, but because she doesn't really get the concept of jealousy and justice/retaliation yet. So I don't think she will feel a loss of attention from me and act up. I do think she'll have a hard time sharing me physically, but not in a jealous "you should be holding me" kind of way, but more of a "Mommy is holding everyone, this sounds like fun" kind of way. I don't think she'll understand why everyone can't sit on my lap at the same time.
The one problem I do predict we'll have will be one of "too much love." I think Abigail will not understand that she can't give a dive-tackle, full-body hug, or that the baby can't have a pudding cup, or that she's too young for toys with small pieces. I think there is no chance I'll be able to leave Abigail and the baby unattended for even a minute for fear of her trying to hold, help or play with our new addition. She does understand the command, "Be gentle," but she thinks of it more as an "only necessary when Mommy tells me" kind of command.
I am still mulling over how we'll teach Abigail to refer to the baby. The name we selected is too difficult for her to pronounce and signing names is too complicated for her right now. I could teach her the word and sign for "sister," but I don't know if it will stick since Matt and I won't refer to the baby as Sister. Plus I think it will confuse Abigail that the term "sister" applies to both girls. Maybe she'll surprise me and be able to pronounce some sort of something that sounds similar to her name.
Either way, it's enjoyable to spend time thinking about a problem we aren't going to have to face.