May 2019

My Three Daughters Could Not Be More Different

Author: Becca Edwards

When Ransom was born at 5:55 a.m. on May 8, 2007, she came into this world screaming. Stubborn almost to the point of being inconsolable, she only ceased fussing when she was swaddled so tight she looked more like a burrito than a baby or when I sang “Amazing Grace” as she nursed and drifted to peaceful, albeit fleeting, sleep. No matter what gadget I bought out of desperation from Target or from Island Child, she cried. No matter which anti-colic-diet approved food I tried to enhance my breastmilk with or fed her, she cried. And no matter how many times I read new-mom, hyped-up help books like “Baby Wise” or consulted my pediatrician for some solution, she cried. She did not stop crying until she was six months old and, ironically, the same day I found out I was pregnant with our second child.

When Ruth Love was born at 10:55 p.m. on August 26, 2008, she came into this world laughing. Happy almost to the point of elation, she only ceased smiling, giggling or cooing when she slept—which quite often was blanket-less and tucked in a Baby Björn as I followed Ransom around from room to room—or when she was nursing or devouring a carton of “bluelillies” (Ruth Love’s name for blueberries). No matter if she fell or if Ransom was rough with her, she was joyful. No matter if I opted out of the 5:00 a.m. feeding and waited until 6:30 a.m., she was joyful. And no matter if her “night night” (a small white blankie with a fuzzy lamb head attached to it) fell out of her crib or if (under the pediatrician’s advice) we snipped the tip of her pacifier, she was joyful. Even today she only frowns when someone like her sister Camellia upsets her.

When Camellia was born at 4:55 p.m. (yes, all three where born at 55 minutes) on December 20, 2010, she came into this world not breathing properly, and even still her tiny, preemie fingers gripped my index finger as if to say, “I’m going to be OK, Mommy.” Premature to the point that she was almost airlifted to MUSC, she scared her father and me terribly until the hospital staff was able to stabilize her. She continued to worry us for months. No matter if she gained above and beyond what the pediatrician expected, we worried. No matter if she met the daily requirement of wet diapers, we worried. No matter if, albeit much later than her sisters, she hit a milestone like saying her first word, we worried. Because of the amount of fear we experienced regarding her health that first year, I am not sure if I will ever totally not worry about her, but I will tell you she—more than my other children—seems the most resilient, and in her own subtle ways she continues to grip my index finger and tell me, “I’m going to be OK, Mommy.”

The way each of my daughters came into this world is very indicative of their personality. As a doula, I share this with my clients not so much as to pigeonhole a child at birth but to encourage parents to, despite all that is going on during labor, observe their child from his or her first breath. Even when children are raised by the same parents, under the same circumstances and, as in my case, relatively close together, their personalities vastly range.

My three daughters could not be more different. This could be due in part to the behavior traits and patterns associated with birth order. Psychology Today writes, “Birth order has a powerful impact upon children’s emotions, behavior and personality development… the firstborn child can end up feeling very pressured to succeed and become a perfectionist, often equating love with success.” This observation is certainly true with Ransom. No matter if we are hiking, cooking or doing a craft project, she feels compelled to take the lead and best her sisters.

The article continues with, “The second born child benefits from calmer, more self-confident parents and enjoys special attention as the baby. He also has the advantage of learning from, and modeling, his idolized older sibling.” The article goes on to describe the dilemma of the middle child, which happens to also be our second, hitting a chord with us writing, “She is not the oldest and not the youngest, so she must struggle to establish her own unique identity.” It is in this regard we see Ruth Love struggle often and an issue we are constantly addressing in our family.

As for the last child, the baby, and in our case, Big Deal Camellia, we have witnessed stereotypical behavior of the youngest. She likes to be the center of attention, is quick to fight for what is hers and learns quickly.

In addition to giving credence to the birth-order theory, we embrace some truth to the five love languages philosophy, which divides the way we express and receive love into receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch. Every member of our family exhibits a different primary and secondary love language.

And finally, there is the nurture-versus-nature debate. We were more new-parent neurotic with Ransom, and in our effort to make everything perfect, or perhaps as cool, calm and collected as we were pre-kids, we probably inadvertently made her cry. But also, she is a by-the-book Taurus (i.e. bull headed), and aspects of her personality, like her love for the visual arts and wearing a bandana like Rosie the Riveter, are presumably embedded in her DNA. With Ruth Love, we were too tired to worry if her pacifier fell on the floor or if her diaper was pushing the limits of max capacity, but I am convinced she would have been her happy-go-lucky self even if we had been helicopter parents. And with Camellia, because we worried so much, I believe she subconsciously developed a fighter’s spirit, but that does not explain her zeal for singing. She simply thrives on belting out ABBA.

Because of all these factors, I have a different relationship with each of my girls and therefore parent each one differently. For example, if I need for Ransom to complete a chore like cleaning up her room, I have to make it fun or else she will buck the system. But if I am fun with Ruth Love, who is already lighthearted, her room probably would not get cleaned because she would think, “Well, if Mom isn’t serious about this, then why should I be?” With Camellia, it would be a toss up as to whether she would clean her room or not depending on her mood and other distractions at the time.

Though I must customize my parenting tactics for each child, my overarching hope is that I teach each one the same basic yet crucial principles like kindness, honesty and self-worth even if I have to take different paths to get to the same place. And ultimately, I endeavor to maintain a healthy, happy and consistent relationship with my children and let each one know how much I love and respect them because what this world needs, now maybe more than ever, is love and respect. 

Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).

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