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August 31, 2009

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That's the kind of image that i really thing is super image like. If more images very real like this were out there we'd be super full of graet images in the world.

@Monica I could not agree more!!! My daughter is the way she is no matter what I did or tried. I did what I could to get her "better". I took all the "advice" and none of it worked. Took it from mothers, Dr's. and specialists and I have learned that I am my own best friend and my daughters best Dr. seriously sometimes you just have to do it all by yourself.

I don't doubt that our own temperaments as parents affect our kids, but this kind of feels like yet another "blame the mother" situation. My first child was exceedingly difficult -- never slept more than 2 or 3 hours at a time until he was 8 months old -- while my second slept through the night the day I brought her home from the hospital. As it turns out, my son has sensory issues now, along with a movement disorder and delayed motor skills. All of these things certainly help me understand that regardless of what I did, he would have been more challenging than a child without those difficulties. So, for me, there is no question that high-needs babies exist regardless of the kind of parenting practiced.

Wow. This one really was written for me. Or maybe by me. Hmmm.

My first was easy, my second one broke me. Physically and emotionally. It's only now that I'm starting to realize, and accept, my own role in the mini-drama that is our relationship.

And, oh, the reflux. Sigh.

Yep, I've had the "easy" and the "difficult" babies. My first was difficult (and still is... but OH, he has autism and sensory processing disorder! yeah, that'll cause some issues in babyhood!) and the second is easy. The first didn't sleep through until he was 18 months old, and we did No Cry Sleep Solution starting at age 9 months. (We don't think cry it out is appropriate.) The second? Just decided to start sleeping 10-14 straight hours at age 2 months. Of course we weren't thinking about any "sleep training" at that point. Besides, he was already sleeping better at 1 month than the first did for 12 months!

Like Fidget, I had lots of people tell me that if I JUST did this random thing, the J-man would magically start to: eat, sleep, walk, talk, mimic, whatever. Those JUST people were wrong. And I'm still bitter about it.

I think our attitudes have a HUGE amount of influence over child-rearing. The Namaste line is so true--when you're uptight or worrying about every.single. nap or feeding or whathaveyou, any baby is overwhelming nearly all the time! My husband is convinced that our second son is actually more clingy and a worse sleeper than the first (a difficult feat to accomplish, really) and my perception is different. I think it's because I've become aclimated to sleep deprivation in general. And that may be the main difference beteween the first and subsequent children. We're too tired to care and analyze!

Well my first and only (so far) son right now is almost 9 months old, so what I say is only my experience with my singleton. Right now I can tell you that nothing is as stressful for me as his sleeping/sleep schedule. I mean, with everything else I'm pretty chill about, but dear God do not let this child of mine be overtired! So I'm a little (a lot) anal about his sleeping.

Then I look at my aunt who has five kids ranging from 13 years old to 13 months old and she is so chill and smooth about things regarding her youngest. But hey! She's had four before him, so she's been there and done that and I don't think much stresses her about his sleeping or lack there of.

I don't know how I'll be the second or third time around, but for now I'm just trying not to stress myself to death.


I'm with the others who say it's both. I've got twins and the biggest surprise to me has been how having both at the same time has made me LESS hard on myself, more confident about my role (or lack thereof) in the various ways they develop. When they first were born, I was treating them quite similarly, but it took only a few weeks before their different temperaments were eliciting different behaviours from me. So, one was cuddly, warm, easy to feed, easy to burp, easy to hold. The other was more nervous, twitchy, would arch his back as if to get away from me, he was more sensitive and harder to feed and soothe. I adjusted my styles to try to match what they needed (I often failed, but I did try) and so I literally felt like different mothers at some points. I think it's why now I just can't get all huffy about the various ways women choose to mother -- there's so many "right" ways and most of us are doing our best and probably being influenced by, as much as influencing, our children's behaviour.

And this?: "If it happens, then it happens. If not, we'll live. Namaste."

HYSTERICAL.

Yeah. I don't know. I think she was hard, but I can definitely see what you're saying about the flexibility that you get from being the mother of multiple kids.

For me, to find out that it WASN'T really her temperament (my kid, I mean--Q too, though) was a RELIEF. I would FOR SUUUURE advocate for meds this time, thinking that would have cut at least 70% of the screeeeaaaaming.

I'll let you know in about a month, though.

AAAAAHHHHHHHHH....

In the same vein though, I was laid back. Naps where-ever whenever. Whatever worked was good enough.

And? She still screamed all day every day for the first 12 months. She didn't sleep through until she was 14 months old and was still night waking a few months ago (she's almost 3).

I still wonder if I did it wrong. If it was her, or me. She was hard, but could I have made it easier by doing something else? I don't know.

My son however, he doesn't sleep through, or nap well, but he's happy and easy going and placid.

I think I'm inclined to believe it's just different children.

I thought my first was difficult until my 2nd came along. Now, I wonder what the heck I ever complained about. I think, like you said, in hindsight I can see where I may have been much more difficult than he was. Now with my 3rd, all the "rules" have pretty much flown out the window.

I am sure it is a combination of the two. I am sure you have changed a lot after having your first...and she probably wasn't the easiest baby ever.

Namaste.

I am right there with you. With my first, I was a tight ball of stress over everything and he was fussy as hell. He still is a bit of a high maintenance kid at 5, but when I'm chill, he's chill. With my 2nd, I decided I needed to relax about it and she is decidely easier. I'm no dali lama, but I do try to remain calm, stay centered and not scream at them when they are trying to outdo eachother with how high/loud they can scream. That sh*t'll grate on a momma's nerves, ya know?

I don't know Kristen, maybe that is true but a look at my kids raises the possibility that sometimes kids are just really really different.

I had my girls only 11 months apart (albeit unintentionally but that's another post) so I didn't have time to even think about changing parenting styles and certainly not enough time had passed for to change all that much.

My first daughter was a good sleeper but everything else was a challenge. She had bad reflux, took upwards of an hour to ingest four ounces and cried and spit up for an hour after that. Nursing was a nightmare with her. My second child was six weeks premature but ended up being the most calm happy cuddly baby I could ever have asked for. She ate like a champ, barely complained and would happily sit in a wet diaper until someone noticed it on their own.

Even now that the girls are 3 and 4 my husband and I are constantly amazed at how different they are.

I don't think you were difficult. You are a mother - you do what you need to do at that time. You know what they say about hindsight.

I remember when my first child (now 6 years old) was a baby and everything seemed like such a huge effort. I'd get sweaty palms just thinking about eating out in a restaurant. Now, with my 3rd child, she just gets carted everywhere with us. When my in-laws took my 2 older boys for a weekend camping retreat, my husband and I couldn't believe how easy it was to go everywhere. We only had the baby!!! It seemed like such amazing freedom. Funny how perspectives change. My oldest child was a difficult baby and is a difficult child to this day (absolutely hates transitions of any kind). Yet, there was also a huge part of me that just couldn't let go, couldn't go with the flow. All of that is out the window with number 3. We have no choice but to go with the flow. So, while she is more mellow and even-tempered, I am also so much more relaxed. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I'll never fully know.

I am so living this out in my life right now.
I had a really rough time with my first. he was fussy, nursed constantly, never slept, etc... and i was stressed to the max and exhausted all the dang time.
Now, with my 2nd who is 3 1/2 months old, I find myself super relaxed almost all the time. She eats fast, sleeps pretty well most days, and is pretty content.
I was a classic read-every-parenting-book-I-can-find with my first and i dont have time to read anything now. Not that I want to read any parenting books because I found that they just stressed me out even more when I coudn't get my kid to do what he was 'supposed' to be doing. I was also a nap nazi and this time I have to be up dealing w/ my toddler, so who cares if the baby only sleeps for 30 mins, it's not like I was getting any time to myself anyway. :)

People ask me if she is an easier baby, and I always say Yes, BUT... I'm different too.
It's like the chicken and egg, which came first. did the hard baby cause me stress, or did my stressing about everything make it seem harder? who knows?

I wonder this often. I have mostly come to the conclusion that it's both. It was because I had no idea what I was doing, because I wanted everything to be perfect and was insane in some ways. It was also because Morgan was (and still is, honestly) a difficult child. Not bad, just hard. She didn't eat, she wouldn't breastfeed, she never slept, she was a mess for the first year of life. A screamy mess.

My second and third kids are much easier. I have mellowed in time and found my parenting style. Mostly though, they are just easier that their big sister.

Just remember, by the time the third one comes around, we know what we are doing. We know that a crying baby won't die. That as long as they eat at some point and sleep at some point, they will survive. We didn't know it really the first time. We had to find our way and they were the guinea pigs. Thankfully guinea pigs survive anyway. I'm a first kid and look how great I turned out. Ha.

Once you think you got it figured out they also change all the rules, or the kids personality. I have seven kids and when my married with children kids ask me questions I just give them the deer in the headlights look and reply "I don't know". Or make up some BS. At least our last child is adopted so we have lots of excuses that don't include us, this time around.

@Kristen: I don't fault you for wondering. Not a bit. I still wonder.

I just think it was so, so, so hard on me. Like post-traumatic stress disorder hard. (Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but hey.) And I think what really killed me about it was that no one could really help me the way I needed to be helped, and so for five months, I really floundered by myself, while trying to also care for a 2-year old.

Clearly, I still have some issues that need to be worked out! Ugh. It's hard to even think about!

I had a similar first/third comparison and realization. In my case, I'm fairly sure the key reason that Tacy was "difficult" is that I was a mess. Reading about other people's genuinely difficult babies has further convinced me that I had it easy by comparison.

Intresting. I have been told that because of inexperience you may do things with your first child that you won't with your second. It could be that we loosen up a bit with the other children in ways we couldn't let ourselves with the first. We'll see when I have my next one.

I'm only having one and I can tell the difference in how I parent as she gets older. I've grown up nearly as much as she has. I'm sure they are different, but I think you've likely changed too.

HOORAY! I just realized that with my second son! I have always been an overachiever and it carried over into my parenting. I wanted to do everything THE BEST, BY THE BOOK, just like the authority figures said so. I wanted to get the praise of doing a GREAT JOB.

But with my second, I have loosened up. I spend less time giving a shit what the "authority figures/experts" think and more about having a happy baby and making things easier on myself and him.

However, I think maybe it is the confidence that I have from raising my first baby that allows me to be in this position.... maybe as a new mom I needed the experts because I really didn't know what I was doing. I needed to try "to do it all" to be able to figure out what is really important and what can be let go. : )

Anyhow, just saying... I'm with you.

My kids are also very different. I think some of it may have to do with one being raised by first-time mom vs. the other being raised by an experienced mom. But a lot of it also has to do with their innate personalities, too.

I kind of like that we'll never really know, it lets me waft between thinking I loused it up, to believing I accurately followed instincts offering exactly what was needed.

I love this post. It totally speaks to me because I have two daughters that couldn't be more different. And I couldn't have been a more different parent for each of them. For the first I was the classic HELICOPTER Mom, but like to the 100th degree. I was uber-controlling about everything she did, anxious about everything from reflux to fabric softener. The second time around I had undergone a transformation into a more zen, less anxious type of person, resulting in a completely different style of parenting. I am still a helicopter mom, but there's a lot more wiggle room this time. My children are polar opposites and I always wonder, is it me or is it them? Would they have they have been the same regardless of how I was as a mother? Or did I shape them into who they are? Isn't it puzzling and fascinating to ponder?!

I am STILL learning on the fly. Now that my kid is old enough to talk back and critique me, its less on how to care for her and more of my own self management - showing the proper emotion, stress reduction, choosing my words more carefully, etc. Its pretty obvious to me that I have a bigger problem with that than my kid ever did.

You pose a great question. And now I think I might go off an a huge tangent. Sorry. I think that your question highlights my biggest challenge. That I need to remember that my kids are different, and don't necessarily need the same things, or the same treatment.

I'm a different mom with each of them. Is that right? I don't know. Maybe not, but it is what it is. For sure my kids get all the love in the world, but maybe in different ways. I certainly don't give one of them less. They don't get the same consequences because there isn't one consequence that works for both of them.

Bottom line. They're different, I'm different, and hopefully that will work for all of us.

I do this, too- look back and wonder if it was her or me. In my case, my kids have each gotten easier and easier...but I've, in turn, gotten much more relaxed. And experienced.

I have to think it's a combination of both, because I know so many women who have had a horrible time with a 2nd or 3rd child.

Amazing post. This seriously could be me minus the other children. I second guess myself all the time. And you know what I did give up on breastfeeding after the 8 long HARD months, several elimination diets, nursing strikes and of none stop night nursing. We switched my daughter to a hypoallergenic formula and it WORKED! She was still not an easy baby but things totally got better from then on. My daughters system just hated my milk. :-) No matter what I did my milk was toxic shit to her.

My daughter was diagnosed with reflux and we put her on serious meds that really didn't work and in the end I think ended up causing more problems then solved.

Looking back on my situation I know without a doubt it WAS all of us involved that were wrong/hardheaded. Myself for not letting go and giving up and letting her cry it out. My baby, my husband for not knowing what to do and the Dr.'d for being just a fucking clueless and us.

Motherhood is hard and even harder when you do not have the "perfect baby" you seem to always see in the movies, books and in real life.

Seriously I have no idea how you decided to have more kids. Frankly this little lady has made me and my husband just say no to more babies. :-)

All four of my children are so different, it is hard to tell. It's funny because before I chose a more attachment parenting approach, my older two were way easy and I didn't choose to change my direction because of them, but because of me.

Steph

It's true @fairlyoddmother - for all the "work" I did with Q, I did nothing with Drew and he can count, identify colors and certain letters.

I'm afraid to think about how he would be had I spent time edumacating him. Heh.

I too had a tough first baby. He didn't sleep the first year, and my anxiety was high due to questions about my milk supply after breast reduction surgery. We weighed him every day for a long time and that was crushing to my self-esteem. Now, at four, he's easy compared to his two year old STUBBORN little sister. She was a very easy baby though. Her first year was delightful and made me understand why some people have lots of kids.

I don't know who's "right". Kids are different and we're only first time moms once.

The third is so lucky in so many ways. The first, and primary (IMO), is getting a mama who is either more relaxed, or too preoccupied, to obsess about every little thing.

And, it is amazing how much they learn without our interference. I remember the first time someone asked D what color something was, I panicked when I realized I'd never "taught" him colors (he knew). Same goes with the alphabet, counting, and a myriad of other things he has seemingly absorbed w/o my help.

You're right. It's hard not to look back and wonder. I'm sort of the opposite. My oldest was an easy baby, my 2nd, not even close. My oldest is a MUCH more difficult child. I wonder now if he was an easy baby because he was the only one and we could be more accommodating before.

I think it can go either way but my first was tough. I was doing everything humanly possible to "fix" the problem which was not officially diagnosed until age 4- Autism. But at the time everyone (family, friends and doctors)brushed me off as a nervous overly involved mother that needed to cut herself slack... so in my case everyone was blaming me for her problems when she clearly had a problem and it was not me wishing it into being or due to some lack of action on my part.

@Kelly You can most certainly disagree with me! Truth be told, I'm not even sure if I'm right or not.

And I know there are hard babies. My BFF had a hard baby and I still think that Quinlan was hard. And I don't doubt for a second that your baby was hard.

But you can't fault me for looking back and wondering.

I wonder if it's because Margot is really easy and Quinlan was really hard, or if it was (maybe in part, not completely) because things are really different for me now.

Or because I never just let her cry it out, I never just gave up on bfing because of that stupid diet that made my life miserable for a year, or because I didn't force my husband to take her because I HAD TO DO IT MY WAY.

Hindsight is always 20/20. I know there are things that I could have done differently. Not sure if they would have made a difference.

But I will say after seeing an 'easy' baby - I often wonder.

Certainly our anxieties and stresses about parenting can impact our feelings and memories about the difficulties of parenting an infant, but I'm going to have to disagree with you, as much as I love you.

It was my second child that was horribly difficult. For five months she would go to no one but me without screaming mercilessly. Not even her father. She wanted to nurse every 45 minutes. She woke routinely 6-7 times a night. I didn't feel comfortable sleep training a 3-month old. So I dealt with it, best I could, alone. I walked around the house with her, saw the moon way more than I wanted to, and barely saw my pillow.

If anything, I was more seasoned, having already had a first child. I was less stressed, having done the infancy thing before. I didn't doubt my abilities.

There are easy babies, and there are hard babies. You only need to read Jonniker or Anne Nahm to see, it could be your first or your third.

It wasn't parenting books, or anything my neighbors or family members said, it was her. And I say that as someone who loves her dearly. She's every bit as spirited now as she was then. And all that difficulty faded when her personality developed, and she started smiling.

But it was effing hard. Effing hard.

As I'm facing the last few weeks of my second pregnancy, I am starting to wonder how different I will be with my child this time around.

Thanks for wrting this, it's been a big help to see I'm not the only one who struggles with it.

Great post! It is tempting to look back at the days of raising one kid and think how much easier it has gotten. But I think most first time moms, well, suck at the job. At least for a little bit. I know I did. My daughter never smiled. NEVER. I was convinced it was because I was a horrible mom.

I don't think you were necessarily difficult, more like finding your way. You have three happy, healthy, well loved kids, right? So you've done something right!

I read a lot of your posts partly because I'm drawn to how honest your wriitng is. Motherhood is not glamorous all of the time and some days you want to go hide in the closet until bedtime (no, just me?) But once, I'd like for you to write about how awesome you are. Not just because YOU think you're awesome, but because this motherhood gig is awesome and you do a great job at it. :)

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