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Multiples afraid of Closeness

Poll Results: Multiples afraid of Closeness?

  • 7% (1)
    Yes, my multiples seem to avoid eye contact when held close and sometimes fearfully struggle to get away
  • 0% (0)
    Yes, my multiples seem to avoid eye contact when held close
  • 0% (0)
    Yes, my multiples sometimes fearfully struggle to get away
  • 92% (13)
    No, my multiples do not fearfully struggle to get away or seem to avoid eye contact when held close
14 Total Votes  
post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Good Parents,

Do your multiples show any symptoms of being scared of close contact? My 13 month old MZ daughters both (one a bit more than the other) avoid eye contact at close distance, like in my arms, and have terror-like episodes a couple of times a week with their backs arched, tearless screaming with eyes squeezed shut, and pushing against me with all their might to get away.

I have found support through Parent Leadership (http://www.parentleaders.org/) to help the girls work through their fears by listening supportively to their crying while reassuring them that whatever scared them is over and will not happen again. Every time one has the crying episode described above, I hold her and encourage her to feel all those fearful feelings while firmly held safe in my arms. I have seen some success, such as more eye contact and fewer episodes. After each episode, the girl will finally stop fighting to push away and hug me furiously with big hot tears streaming down her face. Afterward, she will usually fall asleep and wake up completely cheerful and extra warm toward me.

The question is, could they have this reaction because they were so crowded in the womb? And being MZ, one had a better connection to the placenta and was larger but she is the one who seems most terrified of closeness.

Let me explain that both girls are cheerful, energetic, bright, loving and warm. The episodes come on like a bad dream. I am looking for any common ground with other multiples' moms. Anything like this happening with your kids?

Curly Top
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 


I went to my mother's group at Parent Leadership yesterday and asked about this. Patty (the group leader) told me it is common for twins to feel this, and even singletons who had hard births - for example I told her my daughter I see this most with was stuck in the birth canal for over 2 hours. Patty said this is a very common reaction.

Further, she told me that children who had hard births can take 100 - 200 hours of listening/crying time to realize they are safe. When my Monica has her sessions of back arching, tearless screaming when I hold her, I should gently but firmly hold onto her and tell her how safe she is, how wonderful it is to be with her, and how although she is afraid, she will never be stuck like that again. All this with a calm and pleasant face, not fearful looking. It's hard since I AM afraid when my baby looks so terrified.

I have been doing this with Monica several times a day (whenever she cries in that way) since coming home from my vacation with the family. Oh, yeah, Patty said that spending three full days focused on my daughters - 100% 24 hours for 3 days - primed Monica to feel safe enough to show me her fear. She knew she would be supported to work on her terror.

Since I've been trying to support her this way several times a day, she has already started looking me straight in the eyes while playing and cuddling She is definitely trusting me more and letting me in. She has such beautiful eyes!

Patty reminded me that I did not DO anything to cause my daughters to be so afraid. I am a good mom, an attached mom, and factors outside my control have given my kids some fear to work on. I am seeing results, but I always need the encouragement of the other moms and Patty to remind me it's ok for them to be terrified while I support them - it is how they heal. To soothe them to stop their crying just tells them it is not ok to feel their feelings.

Thanks for listening.
post #3 of 14
Wow, how very interesting! I'm so glad you are able to work on this in a gentle and loving way, and to see results! I didn't get a chance to check out that website, but it seems to be helping you alot. Thanks for posting this!
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Piglet

Bless you, Piglet, for replying! I keep checking and feeling more and more alone in this. Luckily I have support.

And seeing results is reassuring, too, of course! A couple of times this week, I woke up with one of my daughters gazing at my face and when I opened my eyes she was right there, like 2 inches away, just gazing at me and my heart melted. Mmmmm.. what a feeling !

post #5 of 14
That is so interesting. It totally describes my 14 mo old neice. she is "afraid of closeness" and doesn't make eye contact with anyone holding her.

she is a singleton. MOm had failure to progress after 14 hours of labor and was sectioned.

thank you for putting this up here even if people don't post it helps some of us.
post #6 of 14
Curly Top,

I don't have any experience with this, but it sounds like you're definately doing the right thing, well done with taking so much time to really understand your daughters, you should be really proud of yourself at how well they're progressing.

How are they getting along now? You mention one is called Monica, what is the other little girls name?

You sound like a great momma.


Edited for terrible spelling!
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 


It's so nice to hear from you!

My girls are so different from when I wrote the OP. Their names are Meredith and Monica (not intentionally two M's but M&M is kinda cute anyway).

They have just grown into themselves so much. We still can count on a crying bout if I insist on eye contact close up. However, when they initiate it (which they often do, to press my nose for example!) it can last forever. Oh how I love their eyes!

The latest thing is for Meredith to wake in the middle of the night and want to play for hours. I brought this up with PLI leader Patty. She recommends that as soon as I get home from work (DH is a SAHD), I take one girl alone for 20 minutes while DH plays with the other. Then alternate the next day. I hope that helps. Patty thinks Mer misses 1:1 attention and gets it if she wakes in the middle of the night.


p.s. sincerely, thanks for writing. I appreciate your kind words and support!
post #8 of 14
Sounds like you're really enjoying your girls, I do love their names btw!

I see what your PLI leader is saying about Meridith missing attention, stuff like that is so obvious when someone points it out but can take forever to reach that conclusion yourself! Oh well, that's what great boards like this are for, and of course your PLI group.

You must be so shattered babe, I had a couple of hours last night when I just couldn't sleep, and I feel soooo tired this morning! Don't know how I would cope if that was every night!

When she wakes in the night does she cry until someone wakes up and plays with her?

Anyhow, got to get back to work. (Procrastination is where I'm at today, all on my own at work and there is just SOOO much to do and I don't feel like doing any of it!! )

Have a great week,

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Lilabet, you're a breath of fresh air

I'd been feeling kind of alone in all this. Thanks for your warm attention!

When Meredith (or Monica for that matter) wakes and can't fall back asleep, she will cry and fuss and attempt to walk off the bed, or anything at all that will get her some attention. Playing dead was suggested to me, but you know, I can't let her fall out of the bed!

I actually feel empathy for her. I also tend to cast out my childhood demons by (perhaps over-) compensating in areas I felt uncared for. I always give my girls lots of loving attention any time they ask me, midnight or whenever!

Do you do that? Do you realize how you have decided YOUR kids will never feel fill-in-the-blank, based on your childhood? Just curious.

Yeah, I love love love my kids. I'm blessed and I know it!

Here's to you, thanks for making my day brighter!
post #10 of 14
Hi sweetie, sorry not to reply yesterday.

Playing dead would be great if your little one wasn't going to harm herself by falling on the floor or something! Plus if she needs attention then she needs attention.

I don't have kids yet, which is kind of a heartache for me. I'm still young (22) but looking forward SO much to starting ttc. It's like I imagine our (mine and my dh's) children are just waiting up in heaven, like little angels until we can have them. Have you seen the film the bluebird? Like that.

I have thought a lot about how I will bring up our little ones, and the most important thing to me would be to not have me and dh scream at each other ever, and when we do argue to do so in a grown up manner, and not only let the children see that if they were around (like if they were in the car or something) but let them see the making up and apologising bit so they know how to end an argument, sometimes you have to back down and swallow your pride. Because that's what I never had with my parents. I can see that it would be easy to over compensate for stuff, but your wonderful twins aren't going to be harmed by too much attention and love are they?

I'm actually having a pretty rough time right now, it's nice to think about other stuff once in a while.

Have a happy day (or night! not sure what the time difference is!) and give your girls a hug from me.

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Your posts are so encouraging, thank you! Your children *are* waiting for you, and they will come to you when it's time. You're going to be a wonderful mama. I applaud you for discussing all of this with DH ahead of time.

I know you said you like having something other than your troubles to think about. However, if you want to talk, PM me. Maybe I've been where you are, or maybe you'd like someone to listen and think well of you without offering advice. Sometimes that's just what I need. I go every other week to PLI to listen with other moms - the only rules are that you must listen wholly and supportively, never offer advice, and never refer outside of the group to what the others have said. This makes it safe to rummage through your jumbled thoughts and feelings. I always leave there with a fresh idea of how to deal with life - from inside of me!

Hope your day is going well (or is it night?)

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

What a difference

Hi All,

Just an update on this strange issue. Both of my girls are totally over their fear of eye contact these days. They play with us, looking away then spinning around and looking right in our eyes with huge smiles - "Boo!" they say. How funny

Related, I met my new niece for the first time. She's adopted from Taiwan by my husband's cousin & her dh. This little girl, 10 months and with her new family for 4 months, is terrified of eye contact and cries if anyone looks at her. Her parents are concerned that she hasn't "gotten over it yet." I explained that she is 100% normal to be afraid and that lots of patience is called for. I hope they can be patient. I think they are worried they appear to be frightening parents or something...

Anyway, all's well here.

post #13 of 14
I'm so glad this is over for you, and things are great! I hope your relatives can have the same outcome with their dc.
post #14 of 14
Yes, let's hope your DH's cousin and husband can learn from your success!
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