I've had a lot of people ask if Lucy looks like Violet did as a baby. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words right? I present to you exhibit A:
Instagram and have a good memory, you may know, but otherwise I'd say it's a pretty tough call. But as much as they may look alike (and have the exact same facial expressions), they've had very different beginnings. I don't want to say personalities, because I think Violet's behavior as a baby had a lot less to do with personality or temperament and a lot more to do with her health issues. I often actually wonder what her babyhood may have been like if she had been healthy.
Here's a little bit (okay maybe more than a little bit) about Violet's start in life...
When Violet was born she had meconium aspiration and was in the NICU for a week. When I would trek down every hour and a half to visit and feed her, she would most often be screaming her head off or at least be fussy. You can't really blame her - she was surrounded by other crying babies, bright lights, and lots of beeping and other random noises. She had tubes in her nose and throat, tape all over her face, and wires stuck to her body. I couldn't feed her on demand because I had to go back up to my room to get rest, eat, and be monitored and checked by the nurses and doctors. It wasn't exactly the most ideal way to enter the world, to say the least.
I also was in pretty bad shape after I had her - a lot of tearing and sitting on donuts and such. She didn't sleep much at night, so neither did I. My mom actually spent a couple of nights at our house with her just so I could get some rest in between feedings. (Thanks Mom!) I think babies can sense when you're exhausted and feeling like you've been hit by a truck, and they tend to get stressed as well (hello, evening witching hour?) And to make matters worse it turned out she was allergic to the dairy and soy that I was eating (and that was in my milk) and we didn't figure it out until she was about seven or eight months old. It wasn't an allergy that would show up on any test, so basically we were just told, sorry - you have a fussy baby. It wasn't until her weight dropped from the 90th percentile to the 9th that our doctors got worried and referred us to a pediatric allergist. (We've since switched pediatricians and love our new one!)
Throughout all of this I dealt with post-partum anxiety. I couldn't sleep because of it. I heard Violet crying even when she was sound asleep. I mean, literally. I had to ask Kevin many times if she was crying or if I was just hearing it in my head. Luckily, I didn't have post-partum depression. I loved my baby like crazy and protected her like a mama bear. No one else could hold her much (not even her papa) because she would scream and scream and become absolutely hysterical. It was more than this mama could take, so I just held her, and held her, and held. her. We didn't know why she wouldn't let anyone else hold her, so I would "coach" Kevin on how to position her and what to do as he paced the room. I resented the fact that I was the only one who could calm her down. I resented him when I was trapped in the nursery rocking and nursing her for hours and hours on end while he could go about his normal life. In my head I knew he was doing all he could - at one point he even spoon fed me my meals because I hadn't been able to get a bite to eat - but I couldn't help but feel it, no matter how irrational. Looking back at that I cringe, but it is what it is. (I'm trying to follow this advice this time around)
Even after we figured out why Violet was sick, I still wanted to nurse her. I was irrationally horrified to give her formula. The funny thing is I never thought twice about another mama giving formula to their baby, but with the hormones raging within me (and after smelling the stuff - not pleasant) I just didn't want to use it. So I went on an elimination diet - trying to cut out all dairy and soy from my meals. Well, it turns out dairy and soy is in nearly EVERYTHING. I lost way too much weight and was at the lowest weight I had been since I was a freshman in high school. And although Violet was doing better, it wasn't enough. So for both of our sakes I switched to formula - first Alimentum, but then when that was still causing her to react, we went to prescription formula (Elecare Infant). The stuff tasted horrific, but Violet sucked it down like it was the most amazing thing she had ever eaten, because despite it's taste it pretty much was - it was the only thing she had ever eaten that didn't make her tummy hurt.
At the advice of the pediatric allergist, we fed her that exclusively (no solids) until she was over a year old to allow her time to heal. She pretty much hadn't slept through the night more than a handful of times since she was born, but I didn't know any different and didn't expect any different from my poor sick babe. It was hard but I'm sure the rest of you mamas know that you do what you have to do for your babies. I was back at work at this point, so that was even more tough, but I powered through. I'm going to admit, as much as I missed her, being at work felt like a vacation because our days for the past year had been a battle. There were a lot of great moments, there were beautiful moments, but overall it was hard, hard work. It was difficult reintroducing solids, but luckily her condition was one that most kids outgrow, and we've been able to reintroduce soy and dairy back into her diet at this point. We actually added the dairy back in just a month before Lucy was born.
Violet is now a rambunctious, opinionated, thriving toddler with a tenacious spirit. While she's definitely still a mama's girl, her and her papa have a special relationship of their very own. She's incredibly smart and inquisitive and has a great sense of humor. Always watching the world around her closely, she doesn't miss a thing. Luckily, unlike her mama she also has a great sense of direction! She is our gem - our firstborn.
Lucy has had a much less eventful beginning so far and is a happy, healthy little girl. She sleeps like a champ and gives lots of big goofy grins. She loves her big sister and watches her closely. Unlike her big sister, Lucy loves to be swaddled and put down on any cozy surface to lounge for a while. While I'm still definitely not the most laid-back mama that ever was, I definitely don't have the anxiety that I had with Violet. I marvel at how alike they appear, yet how each is girl her own person. They're living proof that while our genes definitely help to shape our personalities, our experiences add their own twist as well. It will be interesting to compare our two beautiful girls as they grow and see how alike or different they may be. Either way, one thing's for sure - they are both loved to the moon and back by their mama and papa.