**I wrote this post a few days ago but wasn’t sure I wanted to make it public. I feel like some moms (or even non-moms) might think I don’t know what I’m talking about or that I’m doing something wrong (and blaming my parenting skills, or lack thereof, on my baby). But you know what? That’s okay. You may babysit Lyla (or another high needs baby) for one day (and one night) and THEN get back to me. Haha.
Oh Karma, how you love to bite me in the behind.
|36 weeks pregnant--that was the easy part!|
Morning sickness aside, I feel like I had one of the easiest, least traumatic pregnancies a gal could ask for. Shiny hair, perfect skin, AND bigger boobs? Yes, please! I left the hospital already back to my pre-pregnancy weight, having only gained about 9 lbs. total (yes, feel free to send me hate mail). I caved and had the epidural, so my labor was easy as pie. And then I was holding the tiniest, sweetest little being that ever existed. I thought to myself ‘I could do this again verrrry soon!’
|Lyla at about 2 months...so tiny but SO loud|
Fast forward three weeks later. After a few very intense crying fits, Andrew asks me (hypothethically) “How long before you know if your baby will be a colic baby?” I laugh, “Honey, babies cry. She doesn’t have colic!” And then the fits get worse. The screaming is daily. Peaceful moments are few and far between. We spend our evenings pacing the floors, taking turns shhh-ing and bouncing our tiny girl. We wake each morning to gut-wrenching crying. We make numerous visits to the doctor. We don’t want to say it out loud, for fear that it is true. Our baby has colic. So we can expect the screaming, crying misery to last for at least the next couple of months.
The three month mark came and the fits subsided. Lyla became more manageable. We could leave the house without fearing a meltdown. But despite all our small victories, our baby is still not like most. I’ve been beating myself up for so long; blaming all our setbacks on my lack of parenting knowledge. I can’t get her to sleep through the night. She doesn’t want to nap. She still constantly wants to be held. She despises swings, bouncy chairs and the likes. I recently came across this article and it describes Lyla to a tee. I now realize it’s not my fault. We have a high needs baby.
Here’s a little rundown of the characteristics of high needs babies (via askDrSears.com):
1. INTENSE- meaning, cries are more urgent (Andrew and I always say “zero to sixty…”) and there’s not stopping until she gets what she wants.
2. HYPERACTIVE- if she’s laying down (awake) she is in constant motion—slamming her feet into the ground, flailing her arms. If she’s being held she wants to be facing out, while you WALK (no sitting allowed!).
3. DRAINING- attention required every. second. of. the. day.
4. FEEDS FREQUENTLY- um, yes.
5. DEMANDING- a quote from the article: “He will let you know quickly and loudly that you've misread his cues.”
6. AWAKENS FREQUENTLY- that too. Try every hour and a half at night.
7. UNSATISFIED- some days nothing will settle her.
8. UNPREDICTABLE- what worked to soothe her yesterday inevitably will not work today.
9. SUPER-SENSITIVE- both emotionally and physically.
10. CAN'T PUT BABY DOWN- though she’s getting better, Lyla certainly prefers to be held as much as possible.
11. NOT A SELF-SOOTHER- she just can’t figure it out (or doesn’t want to). We try giving her a pacifier, her thumb, etc. but Lyla refuses to calm down without our help. (usually this ends up being: my boobàher mouth)
12. SEPARATION SENSITIVE- this is the ONE on the list that describes her the least. As long as her needs are being met (being fed on demand, held in a comfortable position and walked/bounced) she is usually okay. Though she is starting to show some preference toward momma and daddy.
I know not everyone will agree that “high needs babies” exist and I feel like a lot of people will say that we are “spoiling” Lyla by always responding so quickly to her cries. But until you have lived with one of these babies you really can’t grasp the urgency of their cries. Her tantrums escalate extremely quickly and her stamina is mind blowing. ‘Crying it out’ is just out of the question. So we do our best to meet her needs with what she wants, when she wants it (within reason! We still are parents and we obviously set boundaries).
|My sleep deprivation cure is seeing that smile!|
So, though I joke about my good pregnancy karma being answered with a difficult baby I don’t want it to be mistaken for un-thankfulness. I love Lyla more than I could ever imagine. For as much stress as she brings to my life she returns it with joy times ten. Her intense moments of crying are followed by equally intense moments of happiness. Those moments are filled with the biggest dimpled-cheek grins and belly laughs (and snorts!) that slay me. Part of me feels so blessed to have such a difficult baby. Like God handed her to us with a wink and said “This one’s special….not just anyone could handle her. But I know you can and I promise it will be worth it.” And it totally is.