First borns can be a bit of a science experiment. Gazing at the newborn baby's face, the mind-blowing realization of "How did we even get this?" gives way to "Oh God, how will we be able to deal with this??" And how unbelievable is it that there is no formal training for the most important job in the world: Raising Responsible and Decent Human Beings. Want to fish, or have a dog? You'll need a license. You've just become a parent? Congratulations! It's all on you!
My sister was measuring the formula for her newborn daughter. After she gobbled down the bottle I fed her - and kept sucking - I suggested we needed more. As a first time mom, my sister - God bless her - said "We've never given her more!" and was worried about what demons would be raised if we fed her a second bottle. "What if she gets GAS and starts crying?"
I said "So we'll burp her! She's HUNGRY!"
Let's face it, you don't really know what you're doing the first time you do anything. Taking my first-born home, the last thing the nurse said to me as I got into the car was "Remember: Count the diapers. She should have at least six a day." Okay so after all the advice was given, this was the one thing that burned itself into my post-partum memory.
Ten minutes later, home from the hospital I immediately opened the diaper to check - but wait - is it wet or not? It's so damned absorbent - how do you tell? My hubs says, "It's fine. She's fine." But what does he know? He won't be blamed for not counting the diapers! And if, after pressing on the super absorbent fibers, some wee escapes, does that count as one, two, or three wees?
It was Thanksgiving day and my mother had the homecoming dinner waiting, but I sat silent, not eating, all twisted up in worry and convinced that I'd already ruined the gift from God.
We went to visit friends who'd just had their fifth child. Waiting while the mom took a shower, I noticed the relaxed home - new infant safely on a blanket on the floor. As the dog entered the room my hackles went up. But he just looked down at baby, gave it a lick, and moved on.
From that moment on I placed my bet that a later-born child is better socialized than the first born.
To me it seems a little like making pancakes: the very first one is rarely just right. The pan isn't hot enough, the butter hasn't spread out, there are still some lumps and you pour the batter on too thick. But by the third or fourth pancake you've hit your groove and they start coming out just right.
I can say that, I'm a first born. I was on my way to being an only child, but my parents second-guessed that decision.