Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dear Mom of a High Need Baby

The first 18 months of our second child's life are still a blur in my mind.

As I was warned, our second bundle of joy was much different than his older brother. Our first was a "by the book" baby and quite easy going. Our second is quite the opposite.

His struggles started with constipation and sensitive skin rashes and then ear infection after ear infection. While I adore all the cuddles from our sweet babies, my little W was very much attached to my hip for a looong time.


We have many special memories together in those early months but we also had quite the challenges as well. I know, I know. Enjoy every second because the years are short but some days feel extra long. Like suffocatingly long. And the nights were even longer.

Everything our sweet second-born did was high-intensity.

All babies are born needy but some are definitely more intense and less content than others. Dr. Sears' High Needs Baby articles cover the topic much better than I can put to words.

The 18 months were filled with frustration, confusion from all of the mixed messages and secrecy because I was embarrassed to share these struggles with others. Frequently wondering "am I doing the right thing?" 

Finding someone that could relate, that truly understood the mess of emotions was rare.
GUILT for not enjoying every second with our new baby. For not being able to give his older brother the attention he needed because the baby was so all-consuming. For feeling like I had done something wrong.

ANXIETY from baby's constant fussing and feeling like this season would never end. Like I had somehow "spoiled" the baby to make him so fussy.

FRUSTRATION with all of the advice and judgement from those who didn't understand the situation or know our baby.

DISCOURAGED feeling like I was a "bad mom" and that I had somehow ruined our baby. Maybe he was better off in someone else's care.

ALONE because sharing these struggles lead to more advice and judgement.
These extra trying months drew me closer to the Lord and He answered my many desperate prayers by teaching me to be patient and praise Him in ALL circumstances. I decided to love my family the best I could exactly where we were, to see the good in these days and to ride out this tough season acknowledging that the Lord had a purpose in it all.

In the course of our trial and error, I learned that the "cry-it-out" method doesn't work with high need babies. That is the truth. We tried and it was miserable.

Baby W had such resilience that he gained momentum as the crying time went on. The poor baby had major diarrhea because of the stress and then he was extra fussy for the next 24-hours to make up for lost time. Though many people insisted "it worked" for them, it wasn't worth sitting by the wayside while our baby was miserable.

That's when I decided it was enough. My mother's intuition told me clearly this was not the way to care for my child.

So what then?

Baby W breastfed for 18 months and during that time, I found the only way to get any sleep was to co-sleep. GASP. Yes, we did and you know what happened? We all got sleep.

At 20 months, I laid him down in the toddler bed, just to try it out, and I sat on the floor bed-side. He fell asleep on his own and slept there. The whole night. I was in shock and a little confused by this newfound freedom.

Since then, W and his big brother have been sharing a room and he sleeps the whole night through. It's an answer to many prayers. He occasionally wakes up extra early and when I tell him it's still sleep time, he calmly goes back to bed.

This was something that we couldn't make him do in our time but that he grew into in his own time.

Now our feisty toddler boy is growing more independent every day and he is still just as full of spunk as the day he was born. High need babies are not easy to parent but they certainly aren't lacking passion in life!

I am so thankful for the children the Lord has blessed us with and their unique personalities.

Dear Mom of a High Need Baby,
I hope you can get some rest and find encouraged in knowing that this season won't last forever. Cling to the Lord for your strength, comfort precious, extra passionate baby and know that you are not alone. It's hard to find someone who understands but they are out there somewhere. Know that God made you mother to this sweet baby on purpose and for His glory. Take it one minute at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time and most of all TRUST the direction the Lord leads you in.
Every baby is a unique and a gift from the Lord.

We tend to say that a baby that sleeps through the night is a "good baby" but it's wrong.
There is no such thing as a BAD baby. 

Sleeping through the night at one month or one year.
Big eater or picky eater.
Contented or extra fussy.
Teeny tiny or top of the percentile.

Every, every, every single baby is a gift from the Lord and God made you specifically to be that baby's mother.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Linking up with Mommy Moments.

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