My niece jan was a divorced, single mother with a five-year-old daughter, Haley, when she met Bill.Ourfamily wasimpressedfrom the beginning with Bill'senthusiasticacceptance of Jan's daughter.The three became devoted companions, and their love grew when Jan and Bill married.
Although the couple hoped to have another child, it wasn't until Jan became pregnant that they began to consider the effect the new baby would have on the special relationship the three had formed.
Jan's parents had adopted two boys before she was born so she knew the problems of being "on the receiving end" of sibling rivalry.
When Jan's pregnancy was confirmed, Haley was seven years old and the only grandchild living within easy visiting distance of maternal and paternal grandparents.
Haley had become accustomed to being the "reigning" grandchild.Jan and Bill feared that she would not take kindly to anyone invading her turf.
Bill suggested that Haley be entrusted with their "secret" until it was time to announce the coming birth to the grandparents.Jan and Bill took her into their confidence before the pregnancy was evident, impressing on her the importanceof not telling.
Haley solemnly promised to keep the secret.She did not even record it in the diary she was keeping as a second-grade school project.
Jan's doctor recommended a routine ultrasound, andHaley attended this phase of the new-baby experience.She got to hold the instrument that amplifies the baby's heartbeat.
"Hearing together the heartthrob of a new life was an incomparable experience for the three of us," Jan told me.
The couple decided to let Haley make the announcement to her grandparents.She greeted the four when they arrived for a Sunday dinner."Daddy Bill and Mommy and I want you to know that we are going to have a baby," she told them, andled them to the nursery she had helped decorate.
The grandparents were totally surprised, and Haley's pride in beingbearer of the news was evident.
What the young parents did not anticipate was the extent of Haley's continuing delight in preparations.
A month before the baby was due, she gave a shower for her soon-to-be baby brother.The guests were her school friends and her grandmothers, who helped plan the party.
The young friends participated in creative ways.One brought a Disney baby book with a calendar and stickers so that Haley could record her brother's progress.Other gifts were finger puppets and books that Haley could read to the baby.
Jan and Bill designed the birth announcement for their son, Jansen, soit included mention of their daughter."Haley has a hand to hold..." it read, along with the traditional entries of date, time, weight, and length.
Of course, attention was lavished on the new baby, and Haley's enthusiasm for tolerating a contender for "first place" was tested, but her joy in helping with the new baby and her growing love for him overcame any misgivings.
Four years later, Haley is a generous and caring helper for her little brother.She can entertain, soothe, and command his attention when Bill, Jan, and grandparents fail, clearly demonstrating the fact that no single person reigns as "first" in their family.
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