I commented to Lisa the other day that sometimes I envy her the fact that her son, Finn, who has Ds was her sixth child. I think anyone who is a mother would agree that each child changes your life but that first one...well, the culture shock is a doozy. My situation was even a little different in that Pacey was premature and had his medical issues we dealt with before we even got his diagnosis. All put together? It was about the most atypical introduction to motherhood you can have. It's hard to acknowledge, but I truly believe that I didn't bond with Pacey as his mom until close to his first birthday.
I remember there being so much that I hadn't quite decided about how I'd approach motherhood...to breastfeed or not, to teach sign language or not, daycare or nanny, etc. And then I had a bunch of unexpected and foreign factors added into those decisions to make and I felt SO out of my depth. I guess sometimes I feel like if I had at least been through some of those experiences and decision-making with another child at least I'd have something to go on. And sure, I know that every kid is different but at least I'd have had some trial-and-error under my belt. It was really hard to figure out sometimes if I was doing everything I could to help Pacey or if my lack of experience was making things even harder for him.
Perhaps the hardest thing about having Pacey first is that it set me up to believe, naively, that a second, more "typical" experience with pregnancy, birth, babyhood etc would be easy and it was ANYTHING but easy. My pregnancy was much more difficult, taking care of a newborn right away (plus toddler) after a c-section was so demanding...although I'd never ever wish for a preemie again, there is something to be said for having 8 weeks to recover while your baby is in the hospital! And Brighton was just a much more needy baby compared to laid-back Baby Pacey.
Of course, there were a lot of good things about Pacey being my first child. Probably the biggest thing was that we weren't worried about another child's needs while we dealt with hospitalizations and a pretty rigorous therapy schedule. I could truly put all of my resources into him and I am grateful that I wasn't having to split my time and attention at that point. I also think that it was easier not to have another typically-developing child's milestones to compare to. I knew, based on the literature, that most children hit milestones quicker than Pacey did (and boy did it sting sometimes to see a friend's much younger child crawling/walking/whatever) but I didn't have a magic age in mind that had been my own past experience. For that, I'm grateful.
I think the thing I like the best about Pacey being my oldest child is seeing him in his big brother role. I know at some point that Brighton will "lap" him in many ways and I hope that she will stick up for him if and when it is called for. But for now, he is her protector and she feels comforted by his presence. She hates it when we drop Pacey off for school and wriggles out of my arms to go and wrap him in a huge hug at pick-up. The other day we were at the indoor play structure at our gym and there was a birthday party group of some older, sorta rambunctious boys playing. Brighton was a little intimidated by them but as long as she was with Pacey she was fine. When she needed a boost up she'd call for his help and, despite the fact he only has about 2 inches and 5 lbs on her, he'd crouch down and unceremoniously shoulder barge her rear end up until she could get a foothold. I'm happy he will always be her big brother.
Thoughts from anyone else about where in your birth order your child with Ds came? Or, if you don't have one, thoughts on birth order in general?