Kate at 1 week old.
I know it is not wise to compare your children. I think I read somewhere that it will give them low self esteem and increase sibling rivalary. Of course I don't plan on comparing everything and blogging about it, and sure as heck don't plan on mentioning everything to my daughters. That said, one can't help but compare. Your memory works that way. Conversations work that way. "Does she look like her sister?" "Kate wore these pj's when she came home from the hospital." "Remember how we did that with Kate?"
First off I actually want to say that there was an advantage to having a premature child. A silver lining in a storm. She was nicely trained when we got home from our NICU stay. She was on a perfectly timed 3 hour schedule. She knew when to be hungry and she knew then to be tired. She also seemed to be able to put herself to sleep easily (sadly either because of her personality or because of necessity from being alone in a isolette).
Our full term baby, has maybe figured out the difference between day and night (maybe). But as far as a schedule, well that is a joke. Her schedule is so random that I am slowly going insane. I crave some type of schedule so that I can then keep some type of organization with the toddler. Again this is just a joke at this stage, and the sooner I stop trying to schedule us the better off we probably be.
Taylor at 1 week old
The other huge difference though that I have noticed is when it comes to eating and breast feeding. You can do quick search on my blog, and if I wasn't so damn sleep deprived I would link it for you but I have multiple entries on breast feeding and pumping for my preemie. I pumped forever, 14 months or so and we never mastered to breast feed. I was crushed. I took this as a personal failure and never really got over it. We worked on it for a month or so when I got back from the NICU but just didn't master it. To be honest, Kate never really mastered the bottle either. She was a bit of a nightmare to get food into. To be even more honest I still spend a huge amount of time trying to just get a chicken nugget in her (cookies are no problem though).
I blamed myself for it all. Maybe it was my guilt over a premature birth. Maybe it is because I like to be very hard on myself. I don't know the answer but I know that I wasted a lot of energy on it all. I never once blamed my daughter. I really didn't let it cross my mind that it might be a premature issue. I was so focused on the fact that she was going to be just fine that, I never really let myself realize there were some things that just weren't easy for her to do.
Now I have a full term comparison. Taylor came into the world and was ready to breast feed. We had a few little positioning things to work on but other than that she has been attached ever since. She has an incredible appetite, we've nick-named her the valsa-rapture because she is like a crazed monster when she is hungry. It is so much more exhausting than I ever imagined. I am her food source all day every day. There is no organized pumping and then bottle feeding, not yet anyway. And now that I can breast feed, I know I will be back to pumping once I return to work (hopefully with some breast feeding as well).
Kate would never have had the energy or the drive to nurse as much as Taylor does. I would never have had the confidence to put her in positions that I would have thought would cause apnea. Or push her as hard as I have my full termer. The doctors and I would never have been comfortable not knowing exactly how much she was getting at each feed. And then there were the medications, Kate had horrible reflux and constipation (which we have not seen at all with her sister). I had to get in the supplements and that was with a bottle. Plus we had to do a bottle to get out of the NICU, and they gave pacifiers in the NICU. Nipple confusion was probably long established prior to us even trying to breast feed.
I don't blame my daughter even now that I appreciate her role in our poor breast feeding relationship. I definitely don't blame myself anymore. I don't think anyone needs to be blamed. Somethings in your parenting relationship click right from the start, some don't. I am realizing though that you do want to cut yourself a bit of slack in 'special' situations. You do the best you can with what you have, and then maybe you should just let it go when it isn't as you expected. I sure could use all that energy that I used to blame myself for the past couple of years.