Your spouse is out of town on a last minute business trip when you go into labor earlier than you expected. What’s plan B?
This is one of those situations that you really, really, really don’t want to have happen. Even if you’ve been through the birth process before, every time is a different experience and you never know how things will go down. You plan, you hope, but you don’t KNOW, so you really need to have your ducks in a row when it comes to your birth plan and managing older siblings!
That means having a plan A, B and C! Plan A is typically a spouse or partner. But what if Plan A went out the window when his boss called and asked him to fly to their sister office in another state for a few days, to deal with a crisis? On to plan B.
Close friends and family are your next best bet!
Having a few people you know well and love dearly on call for the big event is ideal. These are people who know the children really well too, and whom the children like. Don’t call up cranky Uncle Fred if you don’t have to. You want more than one person on speed dial in case the first person on the list is suddenly not available. And make sure the list is somewhere that can be accessed by people other than yourself, in case something happens that is truly an emergency and you can’t call! You want your ten year old to be able to hand that list, complete with phone numbers, to the paramedics! Okay, okay, that’s a dire and unlikely situation, but better to be safe than sorry, right?
Less close friends are still an option
The key with people you don’t know as well and might feel uncomfortable imposing upon at the last minute is not to ask them at the last minute! You need to get in touch with those people who may not know your child very well but with whom you would be comfortable leaving them, even for a few hours. Asking well in advance of the time you might need their help makes it easier to make that call when and if you have to.
A good place for finding someone like this is if your child is in a playgroup or perhaps other parents at their nursery school; someone who has other kids your child’s age would mean your child would be less upset at being left with a virtual stranger since there would be someone they know to play with! Also, parents with kids of similar age to your own older child will already be equipped to handle them: pull ups, stuffies, books to read and more!
No family or close friends around?
Call around to emergency nanny and babysitter services well in advance of your due date. You’re looking for companies that will send a bonded and insured caregiver with little notice. Yes, they’re not going to be super cheap, but they can be a good stop gap until a family member can arrive from another city, for example, and certainly better than leaving your four year old with a neighbor!
Be prepared for this eventuality by having a ‘nanny guide’ ready that includes important information, phone numbers, medications that your child needs, specific issues that the nanny might encounter. Basically, anything you would tell a babysitter before going out for the evening needs to be written down and ready to hand over to a last minute nanny.
Ever thought about a sibling doula?
More and more doula services are offering a new option called a ‘sibling doula’. So while a postpartum doula is there to help you with the baby after the birth, a sibling doula is available during and after the birth to help with minding the other children. It’s akin to a nanny service but it’s being offered by the same organization from whom you’ve hired your postpartum doula, so you can feel comfortable with the selection of caregivers, knowing that they are part of the same group of kind-hearted people.
A final tip? Pack a bag for the bigger kids too!
In case they have to go to grandma’s at the last second, make sure that along with your hospital bag, they have one packed too. That way, they’ll go along to grandma’s or wherever they are going with a few essentials handy: toothbrush, PJs, stuffy, favorite book / DVD. Perhaps tuck in something new: a special treat for them to open so they feel less like they’ve been abandoned in the rush! Have any medications they take in one place so they can be popped into the bag at a moment’s notice, and off you go!
Giving birth, even the second or third time can be stressful. Don’t make it more so by being worried about your other kids, when a little planning can keep where they will go and with whom completely under control. Even if you think your plans are solid, ask your postpartum doula if they offer sibling doula services. It never hurts to have a plan D!