Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Peaks and Valleys

I thought I would blog about the highs and lows of mothering a high need baby. 

It is no easy task, but at the same time there are great moments of pure joy!  I have every emotion every day. 

The Peaks:
Have you ever climbed to the top of a mountian?  (If you're saying, Yeah right sister! I guess I can really only say I've driven to a spot that allowed me to climb about 300 steps to the top of a mountian).  The view is amazing and you stand there for several minutes just to admire the view and all of God's grand creation.  You feel at peace and joyful. 

I have had so many of those joyful and peaceful moments with my son lately.  He has hit this wonderful stage of walking and at the same time he has really blossomed into a child that responds and understands language.  In the past two weeks my amazing son has learned and is incorporating about 6 signs in sign language.  A genius, right?!?!  haha.  Well it totally shocked me because I was convinced he was going to be too stubborn to learn sign language.  But we watch Baby Signing Time at least three times a week and he is just picking it up rapidly.  So my moments of joy are when he signs when he wants something or wants to communicate.  It is absolutely thrilling!  The joy also floods my heart when he lays his precious little head on my lap when he gets tired or nervous in a new setting.  It shows me that he really trusts me to protect him and comfort him.  It melts my heart!

The Valleys:
Now I am originally from the central valley of California, so I won't say anything bad about the valley, because I really love it there and plan to move back there.  But for the purposes of imagery I will explain one particularly undesirable features of living there.  It gets hot in the summer.  It gets over 100 degrees for at least a week each summer and is typically above 90 the whole summer.  Nights don't cool down until about midnight or later.  It can be so miserable and you feel trapped inside your house because it's too hot to go out. 

Speaking of trapped... do you ever feel trapped in your house because of you high needs baby?  There are times that he is having one of those days that he's beyond cranky.  He gets angry at everything and cries at the drop of a hat and I convince myself that I can't take him in public and have a meltdown.  So I decide it is better to stay at home and suffer silently.  There are also days, like I've had in the past week, when I take particular notice of other babies and their gentle temperment.  The way they sleep soundly in a crowded room, or sleep for long periods of time for naps.  The way they smile at EVERYTHING and never show signs of real anger.  And I begin to feel sorry for myself that I was "robbed" of that experience.  I have gotten pretty good at minimizing these thoughts because I am so proud of my son and how far we've come.  But those thoughts do come and sometimes I entertain them.  Because, when we are really honest with ourselves, it is really hard some days to parent a high needs baby. 
On a side note - the valley also has wonderfully fertile soil and it so great for growing produce for people to eat.  Just as the actions we take and the love we give our children are creating fertile soil for growing wonderfully well adjusted children.  We just need to practice our patience and give an overabundance of love even when we don't feel it.  So that our children will be able to grow into people that bring greatness to the world.  You can always find something positive - even in the valleys of life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Finally Met Another!

It has been the hope that some day I would meet another mother of a High Need baby.  We could sit and share our experiences and understand each other in a way that most other mothers can't.  It would be a blissful experience and we would laugh and joke together. 

Guess what?  Today it happened for me!

The school that my husband is going to has a really nice fitness facility that we get free membership to because he's a student.  (Well, it's not free really, they just included it in the enormous amount we are paying in tuition).  There is this great pool that has a lap area, a super fun slide and a beach entrance with a very slow progression of getting deeper so young ones can enjoy it too!  So, being that the last three days here in Southern California have been MISERABLE I thought it would be a great time to enjoy the pool.  So we sunscreened up and headed out.  (This is when I accidentally locked the door behind me and realized my keys were in the house.  Then my husband had to leave school to rescue us.  It's been a long day). 

So, when we got to the beach entrance, where we hang out, I was getting us all ready and I see this mom and little boy interacting together.  She was asking him to stop jumping in the pool and he was jumping in the pool over and over again.  He was very persistent and energetic. I actually thought to myself... I bet he's a high needs kid.  I laughed to myself and my son and I did our own thing.  Soon enough they were right next to us playing with a toy they had brought.  They saw that my little one was interested in it and so they brought it over.  This little boy, Alex, was not so thrilled about sharing his toy.  His way of showing that was to collect some pool water in his mouth and release it over my son's head.  My guy did NOT like this, he cried and his mom scolded him, to which he grabbed their cup and dumped it over my son's head.  He went directly to time-out. 

Later, they came over to us and he apologized.  Alex went off playing and his mom and I sat and talked.  It's funny because she is the one who used the words high needs first.  I told her that my little guy has been a challenge and she said "Oh, did your pediatrician tell you he's high needs?"  I told her I haven't discussed that specifically with the ped. but that I did my own research and discovered that he is.  We found so much comfort in knowing that we understood each other and patted each other on the back (not literally) for being a good mom.  The thing that stuck in my mind is the fact that her son is "3 years and 9 months" and he's her only child.  She said, "It makes you not want to have another doesn't it?"  I told her we felt the same way, but that I can't imagine letting him be an only child. 

We really enjoyed our time talking and relating.  The time flew by all too soon and eventually we had to go.

What a blessing to finally meet another high needs mommy!  Have you met another?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Didn't We Say He Doesn't Like Change?

So our lives have been turned upside down these last two weeks.  My husband and I made the prayerful decision to move down to southern California for him to go back to school.  We were thinking about it the other day and realized that at the end of this schooling term we will have been married for 8 years and he will have been in school for 6 of those 8 years.  I guess he just likes learning.  But this is serious schooling. Like, he just left the house at 8:50pm to work on a project at school and won't be home until 11, kind of serious.  We hear that the first three months are the worst.  So we just need to take it one day at a time until we see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

It might have been pure insanity to think that we could move away from family and friends and start a new life with our high needs baby.  The first week for him was torture.  His sleep was all off, he barely napped, and he was CRANKY!!!!  I cried two times in the two days we had before my husband started school because I feared being alone with my son all day with no place to go for relief.  Sounds sissy, right?  But for the past year I had a way out.  My mom and mother-in-law were usually around.  And if not, I had many friends to choose from to just call up and see if we could hang out.  Because, you see, when Aaron is having a bad day, sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery and a friend his age.  Add on top of all of this the fact that I became a single mom all of a sudden because my husband spends most of the day at school, and when he's home his brain is at school.  *sigh*  (do you feel bummed out yet?)  Sorry to be so depressing, but this is my reality right now.  Some days I smile and giggle with my little boy all day.  Some days I breathe deeply and count the minutes until he goes to bed so I can have a  real break. 

I must point out though, that I have found a wonderful book, Raising Your Spirited Child.  I must admit that it depressed me in the beginning because I really had to face the fact that this is his temperment, and it's up to me to learn to help him cope with his intensity and persistence so he uses them for good rather than chaos.  The main points that I have taken away from it so far (and I'm only 1/4th of the way done) is that I need to help him label his feelings and help him find solutions to what is frustrating him.  I also need to change my mindset.  I used to long for the perfect baby that I didn't get.  I had to lay that baby to rest, because I got this spirited child and he needs his mommy to support him and help him through his rough patches.  Once I changed my mindset to helping him rather than regretting him (*ouch* those words are harsh but painfully true) I have been able to enjoy each day much more.  I heard that it is geared more towards the toddler years and up, which is very true.  It doesn't really apply to the baby stage.  But if you have a baby, keep this book in mind when they reach the toddler stage.

*I have gained a few new readers and to you...WELCOME!!!! I love being real and sharing what's really going on for me as a mommy of a high needs baby-- well, toddler now.  Please send me a message or leave a comment and I will try my best to get back to you as soon as I can!  Tell me how you cope, or how hard it is for you to cope.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A New Kind of Normal

Finally I can say that I have a normal in my life. 

Since Aaron was born there has been no schedule to my life at all!  And I am a schedule kind of person.  I like to expect things.  I like predictability.  And this baby has been anything but predictable. 

But life is evolving, like it has a tendency to do.  And we are developing a new kind of normal.

I have read that routines are one of the most important things you can give your child.  But there was just no way I could develop a routine in the past.  Aaron would wake up at different times in the morning, which would put his eating and naps at different times during the day.  And his sleepiness would even vary from day to day.  It was hard to plan anything ahead of time.  So I mostly only went out when I could get someone to my house to watch Aaron while I took a couple of hours to run errands. 

These days I can expect Aaron awake around 6:30, which means a nap around 8:30 until around 10, and another nap around 12 or 1 until around 2.  And he eats only solids at regular meal times.  So our lives have some predictability back to them.  It feels like a whole new life and I'm loving it.

As for an update on Aaron: he is still teething (I think we're cutting four teeth at once right now, so some days like today, are especially hard).  And he is a crawling machine, which makes him tired enough to take longer naps!  Good news for mommy and baby!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Life Lately

Things have evened out a little lately.  There was a time (right around when I stopped blogging here for a while) that I thought I was going to go insane.  My son was throwing tantrums and I felt like I had a two year old, but worse because he was only 9 months old.  But I decided that I want to be a calm mother.  I want my son (and any future children for that matter) to remember me as calm in the face of pressure and high stress situations.  To be honest I can't manage that on my own.  I don't have the ability to be calm in these moments, but I have decided to let my hope in God pave the way for me.  And it has worked.  Since those moments 2 weeks ago I have been able to stay so calm my husband has been perplexed with me.  And, in turn, I think my son is enjoying life a little more too.  We find ways to enjoy each other, even in the midst of teething. 

Our new challenge lately has been a vacation that brought change and fighting sleep again.  Recently our family took a little vacation to Monterey.  It was so much fun, and he loved the beach.  However, it threw off his sleep BIG time.  Before we went he was doing great with naps.  I was leaving him in his crib for at least an hour and he was able to stay asleep for at least an hour.  But that all changed when we were away.  He hated going down for naps and even going to bed.  We were sharing the house with our family and I didn't want to disturb them so I gave him a pacifier at night to help him sleep.  This has transferred to an hour of screaming each night in protest because he wants his binky back now that we are home.  But I don't want to have to fight him about this in a year or so when we take the binky away completely.  So I keep telling myself it will be worth it in the long run. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Jinxed It!

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted that we were having napping success?  Remember how I hoped that I wouldn't jinx that success by celebrating with a blot post? 

Well.... I jinxed it!

We have gone back to square one, and I'm wondering if any form of nap training is ever going to work with my son.  He IS a very strong willed child you know?  

I asked his pediatrician about this today and he said to follow his schedule.  If he is acting tired before he has had a waketime I thought appropriate then put him down when the baby says so.  It is his body after all, he knows when he's tired better than me.  So today I did just that.  I put him down an hour and a half after he woke in the morning, and he slept for over and hour.  I put him down 2 and a half hours after he woke from the first nap, and he is reaching the hour mark in his crib currently.  I may drive myself crazy thinking about naps, but we will be successful eventually.....RIGHT?!?!?!

Now let's make sure this blog doesn't jinx this success. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

At My Limit

This morning (yes, it's only been 2 hours since my baby woke up) I am at my limit!!!!

I am frustrated to the max with him.  He has almost done nothing but cry, moan, and whine all morning!  Some days I can handle it.  I just scoop him up and do whatever it takes to get him to stop.  But this morning I had things to do.  I sat him in his highchair for his bottle and cereal and when he was done I got up to put dishes in the dishwasher, load up his diaper bag, and hoping to do a host of other things.  The WHOLE time he was in his highchair he moaned, whined and cried.  I lost it!  What does that mean?  Well my blood pressure went through the roof, I thought my head was going to explode from so much frustration and I yelled "STOP"!!!  He did stop and looked at me like "are you yelling at me?  are you mad at me?"  and then proceeded to cry and moan and whine. 

I picked him up and decided to put him to bed.  I gave him a pacifier and held him for a while until he was ready to sleep.  I put him down in his crib and he was out.  Poor thing was just so tired he couldn't handle it anymore. 

It was then that I cried.  Uncontrollable crying.  How could I yell at my baby?  Why couldn't I just stop and figure out what he needed?  And why can't he just let me get a few things done during the day without being SO DEMANDING?!?!? 

Granted it will be "that time of the month" in a day or so.  Maybe I can blame it on the hormones?  But this part of being his mommy becomes too hard sometimes.