Published on March 04, 2016

Big Sister Class

Big Sister Tessa

Tessa holding the baby
during her Big Brothers,
Big Sisters Class.

On August 27, 2015, I was in such shock to find out we were pregnant, that this time around I didn’t present it to Ryan as a fun surprise. I more or less went out to the living room and cut him off from what he was saying and said, “I have to tell you something.” Tessa was playing right there, so I just gave him a look of raised eyebrows and a tilted head like “READ MY MIND!” And he did. We tried to not mention key words in front of her such as baby. She continued playing like nothing was going on. The next morning while getting ready for daycare, she said, “Baby?” and pointed at my stomach. I shouldn’t have been surprised she picked up on it. Kids are smart little sponges.

We didn’t talk about it around Tessa for a while. You never know what could happen. Nine months to a 2, going on 3 year old is a long time to wait. When we found out we were having twins, we let our oldest daughter, Taylor tell Tessa. “Tessa, you’re going to be a big sister!” And she jumped up and down and yelled, “YEAH!” Both girls were excited, we just didn’t know if Tessa really knew why she was excited, or how long it would last.

Tessa gets asked a lot about the babies. She was sure one was a boy and one was a girl. It didn’t faze her that both would be little sisters. Tessa asked regularly, “Can I hold the babies? Will you help me hold the babies?” This is going well, I thought.

I enrolled Tessa in Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Big Brother Big Sister class. I liked the fact that her class was for children ages 2-4. My initial thought was this was something fun for Tessa to do about a month before the babies arrive. Tessa loves babies. She’s been around babies at daycare. Alison, her daycare provider has a 6 month old grandson. When he came to visit when he was first born, Tessa beamed with excitement when talking about him. Every boy baby we saw in the grocery store, restaurant, or on TV was “Baby Hoyt” for the longest time. I assumed Tessa would be her normal self around the babies.

Last night was “school” for Tessa. She’s been asking to go to school since last fall. She was so excited to meet Miss Sandy when we arrived. She instantly had new friends. She got to help lead the class to the room, and found a seat at the table with her friends to start coloring, learning, and hopefully listening.

Parents could leave for about 25 minutes, to give the class time to do their activities. I went down to the coffee shop in the hospital to grab a sandwich. When I arrived back, the group was sitting on the floor around two lifelike looking baby dolls. Most of the kids were excited to touch and hold them. Most, except Tessa. I was surprised to find my outgoing, fearless, take charge three year old sitting back, looking a bit nervous. When she saw me, she said, “Mommy, I don’t like that baby!” I went to sit with her and asked why. She said, “It’s scary.” I didn’t see this coming. Miss Sandy offered Tessa another chance to hold the baby. “No thank you.” She politely declined. I sat with Tessa on the floor near Miss Sandy’s helper who had one of the dolls. She asked Tessa if she wanted to change the baby’s diaper and put the stickers on. Stickers closed the deal. She could handle diaper changing. We offered her another chance to hold the baby. This time she said okay. With the baby swaddled, she practiced holding the baby like she will here baby sisters. Forty seconds in she said, “Okay I’m done. Thank you.” It wasn’t long, but it was a start.

Before the class ended, Miss Sandy took the kids and parents to the Birthways unit. We practiced using our quiet voices, and the kids got to see what a room looks like. They learned where mom will sleep and wear, and most exciting for this group, the bathroom. When the tour was complete, we went back to the classroom for juice and cookies, and each child received a certificate and button saying they are officially a Big Brother or Big Sister, and their bag of crafts. As we left Tessa told me, “Mom I had fun at school. But I’m tired!” (Thank you, Miss Sandy!)

I went into this thinking it would be a fun experience for Tessa, which it was, but it was good for me to see that even though normally she’s a fearless child, that when the babies do come, we can’t expect Tessa to be first in line to hold them. She’ll get there in her own time.

About the Author

Mindy WendtMindy Wendt is a mom of twin girls who were born in April 2016! She and her husband Ryan also have two daughters, Taylor (15) and Tessa (4).



Birthways at Mary Greeley Medical Center is where expectant mothers from throughout central Iowa come to deliver their babies. See why more moms choose Birthways.

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