For awhile I have been thinking about the differences between my children. I thought perhaps one day I would write a book on the funny and frustrating differences between special needs and "normal" kids. For now, I think I'll just share a few I have noticed the most. Carter is about 3 1/2 years old and has 1p36 deletion syndrome. Sierra is 1 years old and a typically developing child (better word than normal). The first difference I've noticed is that Carter loves the vacuum or when I sweep- as a baby he hardly even startled at the noise. He loves to follow me clean and touch the vacuum or broom and laughs. On the other hand, Sierra screams and cries and is terrified of it. That was a new one for me- now I vacuum when daddy is home or Sierra is asleep. The second difference is their overall health- Carter can't even go swimming without getting sick and us all too. He isn't swallowing water, but the germs and the coldness must attack his weak immune system. He was relatively healthy as a baby, but has now had RSV, pneumonia several times, stomach bugs and it seems every possible cold there is out there. Sierra is very healthy and most of the sicknesses seem to have passed her by or affected her very little.
The third and most obvious difference is that Carter doesn't eat by mouth and hates having his teeth brushed. Sierra on the other hand loves to eat, everything, all the time! And she is okay with us brushing her teeth. Of course, Carter did eat orally until he was about 1 1/2 years old, it's hard to remember that though. Fourth is also obvious, but Carter is still like a baby. He isn't able to crawl, walk, run etc. I was worried when having another child that I would have twins, and in ways it has been like that. I still have to carry both to the car to buckle them in their car seats and get them out, I have to change both their diapers, feed them both, etc. Sierra is walking now but still loves being held and carried.
Fifth difference is how their personalities are. I know this could be just the fact that they are different sexes, but also I think their genetic makeup has a lot to do with it as well. Carter was and still is a very easygoing, sweet and affectionate boy. He was an easy baby (other than the NICU experience) and wasn't very attached to me. He was OK when I left the room or did my own thing, he didn't need a lot of attention or to be held a lot. Once his seizures began and then stopped that also affected his personality. He is more aware when I leave the room, but he doesn't cry. He follows me or just plays with his toys. He is more social and very affectionate with people, giving hugs often. Carter just overall has a very patient, tender and loving spirit about him. He wasn't always easy (no kid is) but overall a very easy child. He plays with himself for long periods of time. On the other hand, my Sierra...oh boy, does she tire me out. She is very active, social, outgoing, feisty, spirited, smart, busy...the list goes on and on. She is emotionally needy, following me everywhere and crying when I leave the room. She needs a lot more attention and physical touch.
A lot of Carter's doctors have told me that parents with two children like me, often say having the second child was like having their first. The experience was so new and different- and harder in many ways. When it comes to medical stuff, Carter is harder for sure. But feeding-wise and overall daily stuff, Carter is so easy. In many ways, having Sierra has been like having my 1st child. I have a lot of questions and I feel more pressure in raising her. She soaks everything up like a sponge so I have to be careful what I say and do, whereas I tend to be more lax around Carter. I am sure he understands a lot more than I know, but since I'm not sure I am not guarded around him. I am sure some parents can relate to this out there. I tell people my "normal" child is much harder than my precious 1p36 angel.
I have been wanting to also write some kind of poem or lyric about Carter and Sierra but I am not that talented. Everyday of motherhood brings many challenges and trials for me. I do have moments of joy that make my heart want to burst. I think having Sierra has given us tremendous satisfaction and more gratitude, because when she does something new, it is just incredible to us. I have watched her roll over, crawl, sit up, clap her hands, high five us, walk, and play peek a boo with tears in my eyes and a bursting heart of joy. At the same time, I always look over to where Carter is and feel a little twinge of sadness. He is so sweet and I want so badly for him to do all those things as well. I believe he will, it will just take longer. What many parents take for granted, I have been able to have that gratitude and joy intensified because what seems so easy for Sierra and happens in just a day or days, has taken or will take Carter so much longer. Months. Years. His therapists told me it would be incredible for me to see a "normal" child do all those things. And it has been. I hope I never take it for granted either. Anyway, just a few ramblings from me today. Thanks for reading and always feel free to share your thoughts.