|One Ill. One 'Normal' child.|
Someone recently asked me with great trepidation if I treated Elijah and Harlow differently, with Elijah having CHD and an open heart surgery under his belt already did it change how I treated them.
The fact for the rest of his life CHD will be a lurking like a black cloud over us all does change things. She too had a child with a lifelong condition and one who doesn't.
One ill child. One "normal" child.
I could see the worry on her face about asking me this but I knew she needed reassurance that she’d been battling to rationalise this for herself for some time. The guilt was etched on her face. If we felt like this I am sure many others would so I wanted to honestly share my feelings to say we shouldn't feel like we cannot talk about something like this when you have one ill child and one who isn't. I know it's not the done thing to talk about who you favour etc. but the truth is...
I do treat Elijah differently to Harlow sometimes intentionally sometimes subconsciously. It's there, it can be hard to admit you treat your two children differently and for 80% of the time, I am the mum of two boys under 4 and I try and keep it the same and as fair. When I really, break it down there are things I do without even thinking.
Elijah was my first born who had to fight to be here, he had to go through something that very few have to. The guilt I feel because of that is overwhelming. It some ways I still blame myself. We overcompensated, of course we did and to some degree we still so. I feel Elijah had it so much harder than Harlow. Down the line I know Harlow may come to resent Elijah getting more attention with, hospital appointments and a future surgery. I also know Elijah may come to resent us for having to step in with things like tattoos and piercings, drinking and smoking.
Harlow ultimately will be a normal teenager but Elijah will probably spend time in hospital and recovering from another heart surgery.
Little things in my day to day life show me that our relationships are different. The fact I worry and am so much more over protective over Elijah than Harlow. I know you tend to relax slightly more with your second anyway.
I find family members including Greg won't follow through on punishments for Elijah, he gets away with a lot. And he tends to receive a lot of "treats". It's not to say Harlow doesn’t but with his age I find Elijah does tend to receive more.
It's the same as us too. He has a pretty impressive SuperZing collection because when we go out to work we will stop and get him one.
The first year was mainly just me and Elijah with Greg being out the house for 15 hours a day at times. We formed our private jokes, our routine and we went through milestones together we are very close even now.
When Harlow came along I struggled with adapting to the dynamic and constantly compared their journey. I also had Greg here a lot more when Harlow was born so found that they bonded more especially when I became despondent with PND. We also now live with my nan so the alone time me and Elijah had, doesn’t tend to happen now.
Our two journeys were so different I had accepted myself as a mum to a CHD baby, but a normal baby? I had no clue.
I am in therapy and spend a lot of time trying to move on from Elijah's birth. We did so much to overcompensate the fact he was here and he was alive, a lavish first birthday, any toy he wanted I don't feel Harlow has gotten any of that attention.
I fear alot for the future, and surgery and something as simple as both boys getting a cold throws me off guard. I instantly go into overdrive with Elijah.
Every night I have to check he is breathing before I go to sleep and at the moment I am sleeping with him with baby and snoring partner logistics. It is also because at night I crave to be near him, to know he is okay.
I know how this reads that poor Harlow is second best he isn't but I guess I just don't have to worry about things as much.
I don't have to fear a hospital admission when he gets ill.
I don't have to run through his medical history to doctors/dentist/nursery etc.
I don't have to keep his medical notes by the front door.
I don't have to worry about when he seems more tired than normal.
When you have two children you realise how different they really are. You do naturally treat them differently. Things you did first time round you change, you buy (or don't buy) certain things. Tips, techniques and how you parent are all slightly different.
But when one child is ill and the other is not I think the differences are magnified. It is just a natural consequence of raising two children in very different circumstances. The guilt is always there about how I parent them both but I am just trying to learn to manage it, and I will always be honest about it.