12 August 2011

I Don't Like What I See

Not so long ago, one of the pages I follow on Facebook posted a question to her fans. She wondered if they had done things differently with each of their children (if they had more than one) and whether or not they notice a difference in the children. She specifically referenced things like babywearing, breastfeeding, cry-it-out and co-sleeping and their reverse counterparts, most of which I have duel experiences with. This question really got me thinking and as a result, I don't like what I see.

First, let me give you some background information.

  • I nursed Heidi for 10 1/2 months until I no longer made milk due to pregnancy with Piper. Piper nursed for 14 months.

  • Despite Heidi breastfeeding for most of the first year of her life, she started sleeping through the night before she was 2 months old. At the time, it never occurred to me for her to sleep with me because she slept all night in her crib. Prior to that, she had been sleeping with me off and on because I realized that when she slept with me, she slept for longer periods of time.

  • On the other hand, Piper literally slept with me for more than a year. Even though she would start out the night in her crib, I was often too lazy to even attempt to put her back in because of how tired I was. When she cried, I'd simply pick her up, nurse her and go back to sleep with her next to me. She started sleeping through the night somewhere around her first birthday and by 15 months of age, she was sleeping in a twin bed with a bed rail. (I'm still reasonably pleased with myself for figuring out that after all that time sleeping in a bed, it was only understandable that she would prefer a bed to a crib.)

  • I semi-discovered babywearing while Heidi was tiny, but I did not invest in a high quality carrier. It was some sling type thing that served a small purpose, but it wasn't my favorite. When I got pregnant with Piper, I knew I would need one so I could give myself the advantage of having two hands pushing a shopping cart or just around the house. I invested in a Connecta and never looked back. I wore Piper almost all the time, especially after we first moved here and she couldn't walk with us to the canal yet. Eventually, I started wearing Heidi in the Connecta as well, but she was already well into toddler-hood by the time that happened.

Why is all of this important?

Well, when I looked at this question, I began to look at the differences I see between Heidi and Piper and relate them to their different upbringings. Yes, I am fully aware that they are two different people and any difference between them could simply be due to that fact, but I know that 'nature' cannot account for 100% of a person's traits. It is with those eyes that I look at Heidi and Piper and see differences that I feel I could have changed.

  • Since before Heidi was a year old, she has utilized a blanket to fall asleep. She also requests a blanket whenever she is crying, even if I'm holding her. My one saving grace is that it's never the same blanket, but the idea that my comfort alone is not enough for her sometimes is disheartening. Piper has no need for trinkets of any kind.

  • I have noticed a general sense of insecurity in Heidi that I do not see in Piper. It's hard for me to describe, especially without you knowing her or having ever been in her presence so you'll just have to trust me. I see this insecurity in her throughout the day, manifesting in her whines and cries for various things. Again, I know this certainly could be age-related, but when I see such a vast difference in Piper, I feel it's something more.

I hate to think that I might have wronged one of my children in some way that will affect how she is in the future. I know that I cannot blame myself for not knowing the benefits of something like co-sleeping until well into Piper's first year, but I can't help but wonder if Heidi would have been different had I breastfed her for at least her entire first year, worn her often and had her sleep with me for as long as she wanted.

I don't know how to fix this.

My one glimmer of hope is that Heidi has now started waking up in the middle of the night and coming into our bed with us. Then she'll sleep as usual until the morning, but at least she's getting a new chance to feel the comfort and stability of the family bed. Plus, I do wear her from time to time, occasionally at home and when carts for two children are unavailable.

This is the big question: What can I do to turn this around? 

Have you done things differently with multiple children? Did you notice a difference between them?


  1. Hey Amanda, Interesting observations. I hope you are not giving yourself a hard time over it. I once listened to a Naomi Aldort interview and she suggested you can go back to co-sleeping at any age...she was even suggesting this to a mother of an eight year old! So maybe this would be something you could consider. Our kids both still sleep with us and they are closely spaced by 15 months too!

    Also do you get to spend any time alone with Heidi? I find this really helps with my older child especially if I take her out by herself, she feels good to have the extra attention that she sometimes doesn't get by being the older and more capable child.

    Blessings to your family from ours.

  2. Sounds like you're already on the right path with her co-sleeping and you wearing her when possible. Maybe also have her in your lap whenever possible, give her hugs throughout the day. Perhaps you already do these things, idk. I'm not in your house (aren't you glad :P )
    Have you read The Continuum Concept? Or Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves? You might check those out. And also The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sharks.

  3. You have in definitely not "wronged" Heidi! Motherhood (parenting, in general) is a constant learning experience, and you have to give yourself credit for always doing 'the best' you know how to do at the time. Both of your children are extremely lucky to have you for their mother.

  4. I'm with Kirsten - you do the best you can with what you have and I am *sure* Heidi and Piper will both turn out to be beautiful, well-rounded baby girls. The fact that you are so worried about this shows that you are doing just fine as a mother and I don't think these tiny differences are anything to worry about! :)


  5. Thanks Terri. I do try to spend alone time with Heidi, taking her to the store or staying home with her while Steve takes Piper. And she has been sleeping with us more and more, but my husband is not exactly pleased with that idea.

    Yes Rebok, Heidi sits on my lap a lot. She usually starts eating in a chair and then comes over and sits on my lap and eats my food :). I'll have to check out those books, too. Thanks.

    Thank you Kirsten and Rosie :) I just have these little thoughts sometimes but I do my best not to let them get the better of me.

  6. Rather than seeing how you might have wronged Heidi, try to see it as how you (with experience and the situation), *improved* as a mother when you had Piper.

    I definitely think you're on the right track by letting Heidi join you in bed on her own whim, letting her sit in your lap when she likes, and just generally being available to her when she needs your attention.

    I also like the idea of "dates" with kids... and could probably benefit from doing that with my own. I always think it is sweet when I hear about moms (& dads) that take one kid out at a time for some special one-on-one time. With 2 kids and 2 parents, it should be easy. Just each of you take a girl and go do something different (or 1 stay home and do something fun together).