Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birth order and personalities

Mommy, Esq. left an interesting question in the comments section of one of my posts a few months ago. After reading that Allie had said that she was looking for her little sister, Mommy, Esq. wanted to know if the girls were aware of their birth order. I have to start out by saying that the girls really don't understand big sister versus little sister. For example, Emily, who is the youngest of the trio, has referred to Anna has her little sister.

I was not aware until quite recently that there are parents of multiples who do not disclose birth order until their children are older. Like 18 years old! I had actually never heard of such a thing and never would have thought to do so. The thought is to allow the children to develop their own personality/identity without the label of "oldest" or "youngest."

Concealing birth order would have had to have started right after the girls were born. In order to easily identify them in the hospital, the nurses placed a piece of tape with "A" "B" or "C" on their tiny newborn hats. The girls' social security numbers are very close together and numbered in order.

When the girls were quite young, we felt that Allie, as the oldest of the trio, was the leader. She was the first to make advancements in terms of development, such as rolling over and back and crawling. She also weighed the most at birth. But then after the girls turned a year old, we noticed that Allie wasn't always the first to do everything. We thought that she would be the first to walk but Emily decided that she could run and run she did. Allie watched her sister receive praise and took more and more steps as a result until she was matching Emily.

Emily was also the first to take to potty training and Anna has proved fearless on more than one occasion. Last summer, Anna and Emily loved swimming and offered no hesitation with respect to going into a pool or the ocean. Allie had to be coaxed.

What I find to be a bit odd is that the girls originate from the same egg. They have the same DNA. We treat them as individuals but sometimes it is frightening to see how alike they really are. I remember when they were younger watching Em start to bounce in her carseat followed by Anna who could not see Em at all.

Allie can be our little drama queen. She loves sleep. She can be a bit bossy and usually wants whatever toys/books her sisters happen to be playing with.

Anna is very sensitive. Quite often when she says something that I find to be adorably funny and, as a result, laugh at, Anna will immediately start to pout as if I was laughing at her instead of with her.

Em is extremely playful. I am going to predict that she will be involved in some type of acting or singing when she is older. She loves singing and really gets into moving her head and body around. She is also Mommy's baby chick!


Ami said...

Interesting post! My triplets turned one year old yesterday, and already they follow "typical birth order" roles. Our oldest who was also the heaviest (if 4 lbs. can be considered heavy) is the leader and the first to reach every developmental milestone so far. My little girl who is the "middle" child loves to do what her big brother is doing, but is also already very aware when she is being laughed at, and will start to shy away and then cry. My youngest is the most sensitive, quietest, and hits all milestones last. He is just a sweet little guy. I'll be curious to see how these roles change over time! Great post!

Cat said...

That's really interesting how their personalities are so different when, like you said, they came from the same egg. The car seat bouncing in concert would be a little freaky.

We didn't think to keep their birth order private, but now that my in-laws constantly say "big sister, little sister, or little/big brother" I wish we had. Seriously, their birth order was only determined by where they attached in my uterus when they were only a few cells big, so please don't try to impart artificial roles on them because of it. It sounds so nitpicky, but I just don't want them to feel like they *have to* act like a typical eldest child, (the leader, the more responsible one, etc.) and can just be themselves.

As for size, our youngest and smallest at birth is now the biggest by over a half pound at 7.5 months. She was the most dramatic in the NICU but is now the happiest and most laid back. The oldest and middle weight at birth is now the littlest and she's the last to do the physical milestones but is the most vocal. Our biggest at birth has been the first to roll over and is best at hand-eye coordination. He's also proving to be the most sensitive.

But they're only 7 months old. Who knows who they'll eventually become.

Mommy, Esq. said...

Thanks for the shoutout (and answering my question). See based on those descriptions I would guess the order is Allie, Anna and Emily as youngest. As I mentioned before my mom always referred to us in birth order so those roles solidified early on. Just the other night I was asking my mom how she did it with 3 (Ned has been kicking my butt lately) and she said that the 3 of us were more like Penny - cooperative, playful and sometimes bossy. In fact she would often leave us alone in the playroom for long periods and we didn't need her. I wish that were the same for my twins - not sure if it is the 3 vs 2 or boy/girl but my kids just cannot seem to play for more than 10 minutes by themselves.