I’ve heard it said too many times to count: no two pregnancies are alike, no two labours are alike, no two children are alike.
Isn’t it true!
Whereas both my pregnancies were very similar, my labours were not. And the kids! Oh the kids…
It seems that they are opposites in many ways.
As a newborn, my son cried and whined quite a bit. He wasn’t colicky, but I remember holding him tummy down over my arm as I walked and walked around the house to try to calm him down. His tummy hurt quite often as a newborn and I remember that I had to give him lots of tummy massages to help him through the pain. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that he had an undiagnosed dairy allergy and I couldn’t get enough of the stuff while I was breastfeeding him. Poor guy was already on two kinds of cortisone creams and a hydrating cream from the time he was 2 weeks old because his eczema was so bad.
So far, my daughter has been really relaxed. She hardly cries, isn’t showing any signs of an allergy to something in my milk and besides the normal tummy issues that come with her developing digesting system isn’t too bothered by what goes down down there.
As far as breastfeeding goes, it was an unending marathon with my son. He would suck at one breast for a good half-hour before sucking at the other breast for another half-hour. Then, an hour or two later, he would be ready to do it again. When it came the time for growth spurts, well, he’d be at it from 6pm onwards, sucking away and switching breasts every half-hour until 3am. If I tried to put him down to sleep (when he inevitably fell asleep at the breast) he would wake up acting as though he hadn’t eaten in days.
My daughter, on the other hand, is a speed nurser. It isn’t rare for her to be done with her meal in ten minutes. She very rarely wants anything to do with the other breast once she’s done: she’s content to work on her neck muscles as I try to burp her instead. Growth spurts for my daughter are also unending marathons…that last for hours on end during the day. In fact, we just got out of one, in the past two days, little Amélie had hardly slept during the day, instead concentrating on bringing my milk supply back up to par as her needs change. Oh she would fall asleep at the breast (the only time that happens is during a growth spurt), but I’m sure you can guess what would happen when I would put her down for a nap.
Speaking of sleep…on second thought, let’s not; I wouldn’t want to jinx myself.
Hum, what I will say is that Charles could be rocked to sleep in a jiffy and for a long time I had to work really hard to keep him from falling asleep during car rides (when I needed him to stay awake so that we wouldn’t mess up his nap window). My daughter, well, let’s just say that rocking is a stimulating activity and car rides seem to be as well, whereas having a toddler running around and playing loudly with his toys near her typically has a soporific effect on her.
As for me, well, it took me a long time to heal and get over the extreme fatigue after giving birth to Charles. I stayed two nights in the hospital and slept a lot during the first week. With Amélie, had the doctors allowed it (they didn’t as they had to wait 24h after birth to to a test on Amélie), I would have returned home before supper the day I gave birth. I was able to move around easily and didn’t feel the fatigue as I had with my first.
Having a first child is a wonderfully terrifying experience. It’s roller coaster of emotions from learning about the pregnancy to delivering to the first days and everything that comes after. I remember following my pregnancy day by day reading about the development of the baby. I remember spending hours reading numerous parenting books after giving birth. I remember googling about everything from low milk supply (because my 2 day old…1 week old…2 week old…) was nursing all the time to oversupply, from poop (what? He hadn’t pooped in 4 days at one point as a newborn) to sleep (when will he sleep more than two hours at a time?), to milestones (shouldn’t he be able to roll from front to back at 12 weeks!?!), to…well, you get the point.
This time? This time I am much more relaxed. I know that things will happen when they will happen. I know how breastfeeding works. I know that my daughter is growing well enough that it’s ok if she goes 6h between two feeds at night sometime. In sum, I know that I have instincts and that I should just trust them. Because for every child there is in the world, there is a different “book” on parenting. The basics stay the same, but the small details differ.
You know what’s not different, though? Love. I confess that a part of me was afraid as I was nearing my due date. I mean, my son means the world to me. I remember being so overwhelmed with love for him in the early days that I would cry. And, now, I was about to have a second child and a part of me wondered how I would be able to share the love between the two of them. But you know, I’ve since leaned that your heart only grows with each new child that you add to your family.