When I was pregnant with Margaret I was a tad obsessive. I'd wanted a baby for so very long, and just when it looked like it was never going to happen I was finally pregnant. I was aware of every little twinge, every symptom. Even in utero Margaret seemed like an insistent child. With Duncan it was different. I seemed to have fewer symptoms overall, but I also had an active toddler to keep up with, so I had less attention to spare for the pregnancy. I did notice Duncan moving earlier than Margaret, but otherwise there was less to note about the pregnancy, especially since it wasn't a new experience.
Duncan's birth was also different. With Margaret things were pretty controlled. It was on the short side for a first labor, but even so I was at the hospital for about seven hours before she was born. That was plenty of time to relax and get centered and prepared for the experience. I know that sounds a little crunchy granola, but it's a fairly accurate description of what went on. With Duncan I arrived at the hospital in considerable discomfort and more or less ready to push. I barely had time to catch my breath and I had to deal with the fact that my daughter had to stay in the waiting room with one of my support people and I had rather less confidence in the medical staff present for Duncan's birth. In short, I wasn't able to entirely focus on Duncan during his birth the way I was able to focus on Margaret during hers.
There's been a lot written about how birth experience affect maternal bonding. A lot of it is from folks who want to change the way hospitals manage births, and what they write can make it seem like a problematic birth scenario is a major problem when it comes to bonding. I will admit that when Duncan was born I didn't feel the same rush of something like recognition that I did with Margaret at her birth. I think that a large part of this is that I was still in coping mode. I was focused on making sure everyone was OK. This of course included Duncan first and foremost, but he was not the only one I felt I had to track the status of. As a result of the altered circumstances I don't feel like I bonded with Duncan quite as immediately as I did with Margaret. On the other hand, it was far from a tragedy. Duncan is a sweet, mellow and robust little boy, it would be impossible for me not to fall in love with him. I fell in love with him gradually, as we spent time alone together in calmer circumstances. I love my little boy every bit as much as I love my little girl, it was just a different experience and a different time-line.
I imagine that some day one of my kids will ask me who I love more. It's a common question kids ask. I remember as a kid myself I never felt that the standard 'I love you both the same' answer was very satisfying. It would also not be an accurate representation of the truth if I gave it. I love my kids differently, because they are different people that I grew to love under different circumstances, but it is a qualitative difference. As for the quantitative difference, I love them both so much that trying to measure who I loved more would be like trying to quantify a difference of a few nanometers in a measurement made in light-years. Now I just have to hope that they both grow up to be nerdy enough to understand that explanation.