When my four year old was a baby I used to get really annoyed with comments that friends with more than one child would make – such as ‘two kids is much more than just double the work’ and ‘you don’t realise how easy it is having one until you have another’. You get the picture? It used to really pee me off, but now I completely understand where they were coming from. I would never say things like this out loud to my one-child friends (as I still remember how it made me feel) but I do enjoy having a good moan to my husband and other mummies in the same boat.
My second daughter was a classic angel baby, and even during her most trying moments hasn’t been too difficult to contend with. She slept through the night at nine weeks (all by herself), fed well as an infant and always has a smile on her face. Unless she’s teething or unwell she’s one of the happiest little girls I’ve ever encountered. She doesn’t need constant entertaining and can amuse herself. At fifteen months my only gripe is that she is still a little too fond of the breast and isn’t displaying any sign of giving it up. Not a gripe really, I’ve loved being able to feed my babies.
In stark contrast her sister was (and still is) quite demanding. She had reflux from two weeks meaning feeds were difficult, and although she was fairly content she had awful tantrums from a very early age – and still does to this day. She didn’t start properly sleeping through until nine months, and is up for hours in the night at least a few times a week now. At just eleven months she pushed me away when I tried to feed her, telling me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t want my milk anymore. She flits between being a happy loving child and a sleep deprived monster – which I can certainly relate to on days where I’ve had just three or four hours sleep! Above all else she is extremely jealous of her sister, and the easier and lovelier the littlest is the more demanding and attention seeking she will be. She is really well behaved at nursery which pleases me, but also makes me sad because it’s clearly all for mine and my husbands benefit.
I have recently pondered back to the simple days when we only had one to consider, and wondered about the child my eldest would have been. In my fantasies she is perfectly behaved all the time and life is easy as pie. Of course the reality would probably be another story and I’m sure being an only child would have come with a different set of problems. I’ve been told that when it comes to small children it doesn’t get harder than having a baby and a toddler, and I take great comfort from this. As tough as these early days have been, I cling to the hope that they will both be better off in the long run for having each other.