We had our second baby on Friday. I had feigned enthusiasm for 9mths but really, deep down, couldn't imagine how I could possibly love the second born the way that I fell in love with my first. I kept it quiet from my wife, of course, but in the back of my mind the "gloss" simply wasn't there with this baby for me. But - blow me down -when Dr Szirt handed me our baby, I certainly felt love once more! However, deep in my gut I am still filled with dread. Will I one day prefer one of my kids over the other?
It's a certainty according to Jeffery Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us. He claims that nearly all parents have a favourite and the research seems to back this up. A key Californian study which filmed 384 families over a three year period - a study that eventually revealed 70% of fathers and 65% of mothers exhibited a clear preference for one child.
From what I can gather it's got something to do with parents being drawn to the characteristics of their own gender that they see in their opposite-sex child (i.e mums prefer sons and dads prefer daughters, which is a common expression).
From a personal experience my family seemed hellbent on us all being equal, even to the extreme of my grandmother spending EXACTLY the same on each gift for all her grandchildren. On the other hand when I have brought this subject matter up with friends, most finally admit that they feel their parents probably preferred one child over another. It does seem a taboo subject and for good reason I think. When talking with the missus she reckons every parent has this thought! In that case why is it so hard to get information on it? Anyway after the birth of Nicholas Edward Ross it was once again apparent that the real hero in all of this was my wife.
Like all mums, she put her body on the line to bring this human to the world. Army blokes do the same and we all recognise how hard-arse they are and the sacrifice they make for our nation. But women don't always get the same credit despite each labour being potentially life-threatening. Rare for it to be so, but a truth we shouldn't forget.
I watched as they placed a needle into her spine that was big enough to frighten me. She didnt flinch.
She loved this baby as intensely as our first born before I could even accept it was happening. If anyone can have an equal amount of love for two children, then I reckon my wife can. I know my wife will go on to be an amazing mother because even though she never quite feels she is getting it "right", she is never -ever- getting it wrong.
Nice work honey, you're a true trooper.
Another hero in this whole process was the anaesthetist Dr Alec Harris. He was unbelievably committed to delivering the highest standard of care to my wife. He was clear, considerate and left nothing to the imagination. Highly recommended.
Do you want to read more about sibling favouritism? This story by Delvin Yasaww is a great read.