At about this time last year, I would often wonder if I were doing something wrong with Claire. Yes, every new mother has her moments of doubt regarding childcare, but the type of worry that went through my mind was of a different sort — I was concerned because Claire was such a serious, intense baby.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby frown that much!” was a phrase I heard often.
Now that we have Aerin, whose personality has really started to surface in the past month or so, I know that I was foolish to have worried with Claire — it was just her personality! She is a pensive, serious type who only truly shines in environments and with people she loves the most, just like her mama.
In stark contrast to her older sister, Aerin is very much a happy and affectionate baby. She started to responsively smile and laugh out loud a lot faster than Claire did, and is already “talking” up a storm. And when strangers see her? “What a content little girl!” The difference between the two girls is so remarkable that even our pediatrician commented it on it.
Not only is Aerin a much happier baby than Claire was, she is an easier one too. Aerin began sleeping in 7-8 hour stretches through the night when she was just 8 weeks old. Claire didn’t get to that point until she was about 7 months old, even with sleep training! And while Claire would just sometimes cry and cry for hours at a time for seemingly no reason, J likes to say that Aerin “cries with a purpose” — meaning that she will only cry if something is wrong. (She does have her moments here and there. But I assume this is typical of all babies, no?)
And herein lies my observation as a mother to a difficult baby as well as an easy baby: a happy and easy baby is soooo much easier to bond with. This is not to say that parents of easy babies have lesser bonds with their children, but that they may have had an easier time bonding with them. After all, isn’t it generally easier to get along with, and more quickly befriend people who are friendly and sociable?
Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder how things might have been like if we had had Aerin first, or if Claire were an easier baby. Would I still have been accused of having post-partum depression? Would I still have shed that many tears? Would I have been shouting from the rooftops, “I love my baby! I love motherhood! I love my life!”?
J and I tell our friends that we feel as if we’ve paid our dues with Claire, and that it was only fair Aerin turned out to be such a happy and easy baby. And we are both grateful that we had the difficult one first, because going from hard to easy is always more preferable to the reverse. That, added to the fact that life with two kids just 13 months apart is hard enough as it is.
Does it seem like we love Claire any less, or that we are resentful of her? I hope not — that’s as far from the truth as it can get! Because while an easy baby may be easier to bond with, it seems that difficult babies force deeper bonds more quickly.