It is so hard not to compare our children to others. We are always watching other parents celebrate their babies’ achievements or express their frustration or worry over their challenges. On social media, at baby groups, even at La Leche League meetings. It is so hard to avoid. Even though we know we shouldn’t. We *know* that every baby develops at its own pace. Every baby has its own unique personality with gifts and weaknesses, from birth. We *know* this, but it is still hard to resist the temptation to compare. I was the same with my first. He doesn’t have rolls, is he eating enough? Does cluster feeding mean he is starving? Is his nighttime wakefulness because I “trained” him to need to be nursed to sleep? Is his clinginess because I hold him too often? Not enough?
And then, I had twins. These two babies are the sun and the moon. They both light up my life, but they couldn’t be more different. Their personalities, habits, challenges, and gifts are all so different from each other. But, obviously, they have been raised exactly the same. Before his sister was even born, Liam latched on in the delivery room with a latch so strong the nurses were shocked. Ellie couldn’t quite get the hang of it and just waited for my let down to fill her mouth. Both babies had mild tongue ties, but only Ellie’s needed clipping since Liam’s didn’t seem to affect his latch. As they got older, they developed different nursing patterns. Liam has big meals that keep him full for a while (and let him take nice long naps!). Ellie likes to snack and needs to eat more frequently. Liam is completely focused on momma and milkies when he is nursing, but Ellie is easily distracted. This all makes Ellie sound like the difficult child, but while she might not be as good at nursing, she is an awesome eater of solids and mastered the pincher grasp for picking up cereal long before her brother. Liam is all or nothing- he is sleeping or he is WIDE AWAKE and when he is awake he is a silly goof or a screaming mess. Ellie is the in-between. She is more independent. She will wake up from a nap and play with her toes in bed until someone checks on her. She entertains herself with toys. I don’t know how much of this is because she had a tongue tie and a weak latch for a couple of months and developed a different relationship with nursing because of it, and how much is simply her personality.
If you were to compare any one thing about these two babies, one of them would come up lacking. Why is she so distracted at the breast, while he is so focused? Why won’t he fall asleep without a nipple in his mouth while she peacefully drifts off on her own? Is she going to self wean before I’m ready? Will he still be nursing when he starts elementary school? But when you look at each child as a whole, you realize that they each have unique strengths and challenges that balance out to form their complete personalities. And much of that is innate, from birth. It is not because of something I did or didn’t do. It is reassuring to know that my oldest probably isn’t clingy because I “held him too much” – his little brother is just as clingy and his sister is not, but they have all been treated the same. At the same time, it is a little frustrating because I know they're probably isn’t much I can do to make them better sleepers or better eaters, or more independent or less attention-seeking. They are who they are. All I can do is love them for who they are, celebrate their individual strengths (without comparing them to others), and support their unique challenges.
Laura, Mom of Connor (4yrs), Ellie (10mo), and Liam (10mo). IVF, EBF mom