Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One Light Shines Brighter

I read an article in Parents magazine yesterday called "Sibling in the Spotlight," and I could not help but think of our family.  Since day one, Number One has always been a different child.  He is special, unique, and challenging and because of this he receives a lot of attention in our family. 

He was born in Maryland in a birthing center.  I went to the office, was checked and sent home because I was only two centimeters dialated.  On the way home, a thirty minute drive on I-270, my contractions changed.  By the time I made it upstairs to my room, I could not lay down.  I went to the bathroom and my water broke.  I told Hubby I needed to push.  He called the midwife who lazily said on the phone, "Come on back, but I'm sure she's only 4 centimeters dilated." 

Hubby drove 90 mph on the highway.  My comments to him were, "Slow down!" and "Speed Up!" and "If I'm only 2 cms then boy am I going to need an epidural!"  Not an hour and half after leaving, had I arrived back, fully dilated and Number One was in the birth canal.  I pushed for thirty minutes, and he was born.  The midwife on duty, yes the same one who said there was no way I was 10 cms, called him the "baby in a hurry," and he's been that way ever since.

He never slept as a baby, unless he was in my arms.  He had no ability to self soothe.  I speant many days in those first weeks, nursing him and putting him to sleep, but as soon as he would realize he was in a crib or bassinet by himself his little eyes would open up and the screaming would begin.  I sent him to daycare, because I had to go back to work and he starved himself.  He would not take the bottle.  He'd wait until I came home, and he would nurse all night long.  I ended up quitting my job so I could stay home with him.  I didn't want my baby to starve.

At five and half months, he sat up.  At six months he started crawling.  Honestly, I thought this was normal.  A normal time to reach a milestone, but boy could he crawl. He'd move fast.  He'd go everywhere, zooming around the room.  He had no need to walk, because he could crawl anywhere.  His vocabulary began building, and by ten months old he would say, "All Done," whenever I placed food in front of him.  Thus began his anorexic toddler years.  I have no idea how he survived, considering the amount of food he actually consumed.

By sixteen months old, Number One could talk in FULL PARAGRAPHS.  He was bright.  It was obvious.  He was the light in  my life.  We would read, "Moo, Baa, La, La, La" by Sandra Boynton and I would say "The Cow Says..." and he'd chime in, "Moooooooooooooooooo."  He would spend hours in his room, pulling books of his bookshelves to look through.

He has always craved a lot of attention.  He has always been a perfectionist.  Then at 3.5 years old, his brother was born.  When I was pregnant with Number Two, I did not feel attached to the pregnancy the way I had with Number One.  When he was born, he was so cute and fuzzy headed.  He had this sheen of blonde hair, and I loved him so much.  I just always felt something was wrong with Number Two though.  He NEVER cried.  He took a bottle, a pacifier, and guess what? The first night home he slept for six hours straight.  He nursed easily, self-soothed, and thus became easily overlooked.

As both grew, it became evident Number One was more different than we'd like.  He began having behavioral problems.  He is in constant motion, and the world does not understand children who can't stop moving.  We began seeking a diagnosis for him, spending more and more of our time and attention on a child who already sought it out.   Number Two became lost in the shuffle somewhere.

Number Two took forever to do everything.  He didn't sit until he was nearly ten months old, adding to my fears that something was wrong.  Crawled at eleven months old and then finally walked at 16 months old.  His speech didn't develop until he was nearly 2.5 years old.  After having a child who was so precocious, my fears were played on, and as my mom said I kept thinking something was wrong with a child who was just laid back.  He was only different from his brother, but I didn't realize that at the time.  I kept comparing and comparing, something that we humans have a tendency to do.

Then Darling Daughter came along with the "oohs and ahhs," which girls receive when they follow two big brothers, and this displaced Number Two a little bit more.  Between his brother receiving attention (albeit mostly negative) for behavior and his sister receiving attention for being the cute girl, he became constantly disregarded.

I struggle every day with trying to make him feel special. He is such a sweet, mindful child on most days.  He has an elfish grin and the blondest hair in the world.  He smiles at me and says, "Mommy, you're my best friend," and it melts my heart but it makes me feel a little guilty too since he is the oft overlooked middle child. 

I need to focus on making him feel more important.  I need to give him a place in our family. I need to listen when he calls out for me, hug him a little harder, and let him know he is so special and important to me for all that he is, and not all that he isn't.

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