Sunday, July 12, 2009

Different is Good

"Is she a good baby?" a friend asked after the Bug was born.

"She is. She's a good baby." I told her. I wasn't sure what she meant by "good baby" but I meant that Bug was cute, nursed well, let other people hold her and didn't cry without reason. Don't get me wrong. She cried. Lordy, lord did she cry. I cried, too. Big, heaving sobs of "This sucks! I want my life back!" and then she started sleeping through the night and I no longer felt like gray matter was seeping out of my ears. Things got better. We figured each other out. I stopped trying so hard to be The Perfect Mom and concentrated on being a really good mom to my little girl.

I was dumb enough to think everything would be exactly the same the second time around. Everything was different from the start: Bug took her time getting everything in place before she would think about being born. Dos came five days ahead of schedule and nearly made her entrance in the hospital parking lot. Bug barely made a peep during the first few diaper changes. Dos screamed bloody murder, to the point that a nurse poked her head in during one diaper change to ask, eyebrows raised, "Is everything ok?" Bug looked around, wide-eyed with wonder on her first ride home. Dos clamped her eyes shut and screamed for 5.5 miles. In rush-hour traffic.

Bug slept through the night on her own at 8 weeks. Dos finally gave it a try at 8 months and didn't care for it too much. She was over a year old before she slept through the night on a regular basis. I don't think she's all that fond of sleeping, but she does it reluctantly because she knows a whole buncha fussin' isn't going to get her much more than a cursory pat on the back and another stuffed bunny tossed in her crib. There are only so many bunnies one kid can take.

Grinch and I fretted and lamented the differences between Bug and Dos. We questioned everything we had done, I, had done during my pregnancy. Wondered if genetic anomalies, chromosomal aberrations, even brain damage could explain her apparent unhappiness with seemingly everything. We fumed and cried, cursed and raged. What was wrong with this baby?

Then one day, it hit us: nothing is "wrong" with her. She's just different. She's a healthy little girl who has her own personality, her own likes and dislikes, her own quirks and curiosities. She's not Bug, she's Dos. All new. All ours. Ours to figure out, to learn from and enjoy.

She's different from her sister in another obvious way: I used to rock Bug to sleep, singing campfire/Beatles/Johnny Mercer medleys. When I tried to lay her in the crib, sometimes she'd wake up, clamp her arms around my neck and cry as I pried her off. Dos nurses happily until she's calm and sleepy but hates to be rocked almost as much as she hates my singing. I stand with her cribside, swaying to the music and patting her back. She pats my back, leans in for a kiss or three, then dives for the crib, clasping a bunny to her chest. I hear her cooing and giggling as she falls asleep.

She's different from her big sister, alright. What a great thing.

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