Comparison is part of human nature. Sometimes useful, often a problem, but we can’t help it. We compare everything without even noticing. This cheese is better than that cheese, I prefer my PlayStation to Xbox, this bed is softer than that bed, etc.
So it’s pretty natural to compare the experiences you have with your children. I try not to because I feel like it’s setting myself up to fail if things aren’t the same with Beany as they are with Snappy but I can’t help it.
And things are very different.
I never expected it to be the same. I’m not sure what I was expecting and I will add that, I don’t know how different things would be if Beany hadn’t been born in the middle of a pandemic. With Snappy there were playgroups, and playdates, and just general traveling around the place and visiting people and visits from people.
Beany has seen my mum twice (from a distance), she’s never met my dad. She’s only ever seen my in-laws over a zoom call.
She’s never seen another baby. At least, not her age, she’s seen a 13 month old last year but most of her inaction with other children are kids Snappy’s age. Snappy’s friends, my ten year old niece.
She’s only been without either one of us for a couple of hours her entire life. By this time Snappy had spent an entire evening with our friends, a night with my sister, she’s clingy for a reason. In normal times we would be her world, but this has been maginfied by the Pandemic and lockdowns (I forget what number we’re on here in Wales, Lockdown With A Vengence I think).
It was never going to be the same the second time around, different house, different job, got a kid to look after this time around but it’s so different because of Covid that I really can’t compare.
But I do, every now and then. Mostly about sleep.
The Sleep Goblin
Snappy didn’t sleep well those first couple of months. He had terrible wind and it took us a little while to figure out he could only sleep on his side. It also took us a little while to figure out he had some food sensitivities via the breastmilk – apple, red peppers for example. After that we kinda figured out a system to get them to sleep that involved holding them while in the moses basket and slowly disengaging.
By time he was six months he was only waking in the night for a feed. By nine months he’d weaned himself completely and was done. He started sleeping through the night. His sleep problems were with night terrors, he had to be woken very carefully.
Beany doesn’t sleep.
No, that’s not right. Beany doesn’t like to go to sleep. She’s not uncooperative, she’s downright resistant. At first, it felt a little like we were forcing her to go to sleep. As she got stronger it felt like a fight just to get her down to sleep at night. That doesn’t even count the naps she should probably take during the day but rarely will (or are only ten minutes long when she does take them).
We’ve made some progress over the past few months, gotten into a routine, gotten her to sleep in her cot. Sometimes she sleeps great, sometimes she barely sleeps and I don’t know if it all feels worse because of how well Snappy slept, the pandemic or if it’s really that bad.
We’re doing a whole bunch of other stuff differently too. Dummies, formula, co-sleeping (well, it’s more co-baby finally gives in collapses into a heap on the bed), letting her cry for a bit because Snappy needs attention or assistance or something, and it feels like I’m failing her somehow.
But they’re things she needs.
She needs formula. Actually, this doesn’t equate into the ‘failing her’ because fed is best but it is an example of something she needs. She can’t breastfeed, therefore she needs formula. She can self soothe and cannot be soothed easily (or at all sometimes) so she needs a dummy. She cannot sleep so she needs to lie with us, be held by us. She needs attention but can’t have it sometimes because it’s not just her is a little harder to accept and justify. Snappy only had to compete with the cats. Beany has to compete with Snappy, cats, a pandemic and declining mental health in her parent.
I know we’re not failing her, we’re just giving her what she needs, but it’s so different from what Snappy needed that it feels like failure. And what we need is different too. What Snappy needs now is different. Everything is different.
But she’s happy. The health visitor is happy with her, she’s loved and fed and loved some more. She’s cosy and warm and has the cutest smile this side of the border.
Aside from this weird aversion to sleep (weird to me, a depressed human who can and would sleep all day given half a chance) she smiles, she’s hitting milestones. I find it interesting the way she is developing compared to Snappy. She’s standing, ready to walk but only saying a couple of words. Snappy was the opposite, already talking at eight months, but didn’t really start walking until he was 16 months or so.
So she’s not failing or being failed, it’s just different. And I just have to keep remember that.
Which is easier when she’s smiling rather than screaming.