High Needs Toddler support thread - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Please say I'm not the only one....I searched the forum and only found a thread from 2006.

 

I'm feeling so beaten down right now dealing with an extremely high needs toddler, trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that it will get better one day.

 

My dd is 20 months old, and the hard part is that she is the 3rd child, so I'm managing her extreme neediness, crying, nursing constantly while trying to get my older kids ready for school, make meals for the family, and attempt to spend quality time with the other kids.  Not to mention trying to do all this while exhausted physically and emotionally from her poor sleep (she also needs me to lay down with her and nurses throughout her 2 hr nap) and trying to enjoy where we are in life and my kids and be emotionally available for my husband and maintain some sort of emotional stability for myself (which is not happening and I feel like a wreck most of the time.)

 

She is also amazingly smart, the quickest of all my children, very verbal and physically gifted and surprises us every day with what she says and does and understands. 

 

We have started daycare a couple days a week just to give me some breathing room and the chance to spend time with my other kids, cook dinner, make phone calls, etc all of which is impossible with her around. 

 

I've found that with the struggles I've had with my older kids, what helps most is to know that I'm not alone, since it feels so isolating sometimes to feel like I'm the only one with a child like this.  I don't know that there are any solutions per se, except for doing what I need to do to strengthen myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically, to get through this time.  Although suggestions are still welcome, esp. if you have strategies for how to deal with a toddler like this if you have multiple kids.

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#2 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 09:53 AM
 
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I don't really have any advice, but I can definitely empathize.

 

I only have one older child, and he's been pretty good about not getting frustrated with his sister's neediness, but it has been challenging for the whole family.  On the bright side, now that she's 28 months, she's a lot more fun and engaging, though still gets very clingy.

 

I wish I had some words of wisdom, but I do have empathy!


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#3 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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I have a HM toddler too. She is almost 27 months. I really wish we could afford daycare just one or two days a week. I find myself day dreaming about the two hour two day a week pre-school I can sign her up for next fall. If I can get her two go that is since she is painfully shy, and barely spends time with my husband.


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#4 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 10:37 AM
 
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Where do I sign up?! LOL

 

I've only got one so far but OMG is she high needs! She was ridiculously HN baby....to the point where people stopped visiting b/c of all the crying! We have always been AP BTW

 

So now she's 22 m/o nursing EVERY 30 MINS and having tantrums like hourly. IT IS SO HARD!


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#5 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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sosurreal- I can really feel for you b/c my oldest son was like this, too (lucky me!!) and it is hard when it's your first and you wonder if it's something about your parenting causing it.  Hard to see other parents and babies having a blast at playgroups, mom and baby yoga, etc when my son would just cry.  And going on trips or having people over was just too hard b/c it set him off even worse.   He did eventually get better around 5 yrs old or so and now he is great, still high needs but it's not so physically taxing when they're older and can do more for themselves.

 

It is a big adjustment for me to nurse THIS much.  My oldest was super fussy but refused to nurse- he ended up being a paci addict, and my next one looooooved nursing but it was just an occasional fun thing for him, not an all-day every day desperate need like it is for DD.  It is quite physically demanding.  The good thing about it is that I still have a great metabolism and can eat like a horse, heading into my 40's!  LOL

 

midnightmommy- I really hope preschool happens and that it goes well and gives you a little break!

 

 

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#6 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 12:41 PM
 
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Have you considered putting her in a backpack and wearing her? It's not a fix but it might give you a bit of breathing room when you need to get things done.

 

I have a Deuter Kid Comfort for my son and it's great. Deuter's a very good backpacking company (they make the packs that people use when they're hiking through the mountains and the like) so the weight distribution on it is really spot on. I have back trouble thanks to a car wreck and my son's about 1/5 of my weight right now but I can pack him for hours at a time with no trouble whatsoever (well, except for occasional hair pulling). He gets to look over my shoulder and stay close to me and he seems to really enjoy it. Plus, as an added bonus, it lets me actually get stuff done! winky.gif

 

Kelty and Vaude (both also backpacking companies) make a few packs as well. Chicco also has one but since they do kid stuff rather than hiking stuff it's designed poorly and doesn't distribute the weight properly. I guess it's fine with a small child and a parent who doesn't have back, neck, or shoulder issues but I personally wouldn't use it.

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#7 of 84 Old 08-19-2011, 12:58 PM
 
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You are not alone, I have a very high needs 2.5yo and while some things have gotten better, others have gotten worse, and even Early Intervention really isn't helping him much. He is my first, and I knew he was 'tough' but I didn't realize HOW tough until I saw friends have more kids and realize he is truly, um, unique. lol

I have my DH home all day since he was laid off last year and even with TWO of us here we can barely handle the kid. I can't imagine dealing with him alone again, never mind with 2 older kids.

Oh, he was a very intense nurser like yours, and just recently I've severely limited his nursing (a couple hours in the morning and once before bed is all he's 'allowed' now) -- much better not nursing him constantly but he wasn't really physically (let alone emotionally!) ready for this until well after he turned 2. redface.gif

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#8 of 84 Old 08-20-2011, 12:29 AM
 
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I don't know if my ds still counts as high needs, but he has been absolutely out of control since right before our one week getaway and now that we're back. He simply will not sleep. And screeches so horribly that I've got a constant headache. No wait, I got that from the lack of sleep. I wish I lived in a house with a garden so I could just send him out to scream off his frustrations, but he don't. We live in a fourth floor appartment with no elevator so no spontaneous trips to the playground. And routines? We're just not managing anything except meals. Or rather my meals. He's back to nursing most of the time and just throws most of his food either at me or on the floor. I now need a vacation from my vacation. But nope, I'm solo-parenting again this weekend. I'm toast.


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#9 of 84 Old 08-20-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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If this helps anyone we have a very long and specific wind down before bed that has helped us tremendously! (It is very time  consuming though)

 

We have dinner at 5pm on the dot (or she's hysterical) then we do tubby time right after. We shut all the lights out and light an aromatherapy candle ("Sleep" from the natural section @ Bath & Body works)

 

Then we "play" by candle light a while, get a big stack of books and read them all by candle light, then we do some shadow puppets, followed by unlimited nursing. She is now asleep by 9pm every night (which used to be an hours long battle daily and usually a bedtime of 11pm) and up at 7am. She is only taking a cat nap at 12/12:30 now as well but it has been working for her.


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#10 of 84 Old 08-25-2011, 07:33 AM
 
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My DS (16mo) fits all but 1 or 2 of Sear's definition of "high needs", so, yeah, I hear ya. I'm pregnant (what was i thinking?!), trying to buy a house, and completely drained. It is so hard!! He's actually a lot less clingy and needy when we're out, so most people really don't "buy" it, which is frustrating. When we're out, though, he wants to run away, get into and climb on everything (so curious and active!). He nurses all the time, including all night, woke at 4:30 the last 2 mornings and is up, won't go back down. (his normal wake up time is 5, so not much different). His latest obsession is food, he wants to eat constantly!

It's nice to know we're not alone and have some support! I am so tired and keep praying that this baby won't be the same (how sad is that?! I feel guilty writing it:() 


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#11 of 84 Old 08-25-2011, 09:10 PM
 
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I also have a "high-need" toddler. If you haven't heard of it, there's a book called "Raising Your Spirited Child" that supposedly is helpful. I haven't gotten that far into it though -- with a spirited toddler and a baby, who has time to read? 

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#12 of 84 Old 08-26-2011, 04:20 PM
 
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I have RYSC, good advice, but I feel AP parents all.. already do it all...mostly

 

Just found out today I am pregnant! IDK how since DD has been nursing every 30 mins lately...but hey!


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#13 of 84 Old 08-26-2011, 05:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post

I have RYSC, good advice, but I feel AP parents all.. already do it all...mostly

 

Just found out today I am pregnant! IDK how since DD has been nursing every 30 mins lately...but hey!


Congratulations!!!!!!!!!! joy.gif

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#14 of 84 Old 08-26-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post

I have RYSC, good advice, but I feel AP parents all.. already do it all...mostly

 

Just found out today I am pregnant! IDK how since DD has been nursing every 30 mins lately...but hey!



Congratulations!


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#15 of 84 Old 08-26-2011, 06:38 PM
 
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winky.gif Thanks mamas!

 

I am excited but scared. A part of me feels DD is so young and I feel guilty, but I also know she will gain a sibling! It's hard b/c she is so HN with the nursing, I feel like once my milk starts depleting we are going to have a really hard time. Here's hoping she adjusts well and we have an amazing tandem nursing relationship!


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#16 of 84 Old 08-26-2011, 07:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post

winky.gif Thanks mamas!

 

I am excited but scared. A part of me feels DD is so young and I feel guilty, but I also know she will gain a sibling! It's hard b/c she is so HN with the nursing, I feel like once my milk starts depleting we are going to have a really hard time. Here's hoping she adjusts well and we have an amazing tandem nursing relationship!



One day at a time!  I don't have any BTDT advice, but I think you and DD will figure it out together.  :) 


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#17 of 84 Old 12-15-2011, 07:42 PM
 
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Wow.  Mine is almost 3 and I have been thinking all this time that it was going to get better...I can really relate to the part about him being better when we're out so even my husband's family doesn't get it.  When I was asking for help, my husband was told that we needed to just "grow up and deal with it."  In addition to his high-needs behaviours, I had an undiagnosed thyroid problem for the first 8 months.  I slept all the time, and he woke me up every hour during the night to breastfeed, from about 4 months to 16 months.  He only needs about as much sleep as I do, sometimes way less.  I'm always exhausted. 

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#18 of 84 Old 12-15-2011, 08:12 PM
 
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I find it helpful to split up my quiet time into sections rather than trying to get a whole hour at once.  So I read the Bible at breakfast, worship throughout the day - I can include HNT sometimes.  After he's asleep or when Hubby has him, then I get my "prayer closet" alone time.  Journalling and writing out my goals and yearnings helps too.

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#19 of 84 Old 12-27-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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My DD (3rd child) is high-needs also. My DP could not understand how I could not get anything done while he was at work, from her needing to be held and nursed so much. Sometimes she will watch Dora for a little bit or play with her brother, but most of the time she still wants to be held and nursed. Also she throws tantrums and refuses to use the potty and then pees in her pants. She is better about pooping in the potty, but yesterday she pooped in her pants, again. She is the most difficult of all my children. 


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#20 of 84 Old 12-28-2011, 03:34 AM
 
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Hello moms, my DD is also high needs and has been from birth. She has also had leaky gut from birth so both she and I have been on a restricted diet the whole time, and I have to cook everything we eat. I thought things would get better once she got older, but they have actually gotten harder. She still wakes up 3-6 times a night (in 9 or 10 hours). Has never slept more than 11-12 hours a night, not since she was 5 months old. The main problem now is that she refuses to be in a carrier. At least when she was smaller, I could put her in a carrier and walk her around and she'd be happy. Now she wants to be held, but not in a carrier. I can hardly get the cooking done. And, now I'm the bread winner. And no, she still doesn't want DH at night. So I'm really tired. I've been really depressed since her 2nd birthday because everyone told me that if we did the restricted diet, twice daily probiotic, and a whole bunch of other measures, she's be better, but she's not. I'm just really tired and sometimes can't help but regret my decision to have a child.

 

I love her but am at a loss of how not to feel like DH and I are slaves to an implacable child and that things are ever going to get better. So far we have lost our entire savings, our health, most of our friends, and my DH's job.


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#21 of 84 Old 12-30-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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Tattooed Hand - I'm sorry you're having a rough time. Going to PM you in a sec if I can manage to sneak away from DS. I had rheumatoid arthritis-type symptoms that I'm certain now were caused by leaky gut/lectins and a paleo/hunter-gatherer diet has done wonders. Hang in there. 




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#22 of 84 Old 12-30-2011, 08:22 AM
 
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I'm so happy this thread exists!!

 

DS (13 mo) was high-needs from day one, but I didn't catch on until he was about 6 or 7 months.  For one thing, I was already doing the AP thing - had I been trying to get him to sleep in a crib or put him on a schedule, I would have caught on sooner.  Also, I haven't spent much time around babies, so I didn't know what was "normal" and what wasn't.

 

The challenges have shifted throughout the different stages.  The worst was right before he started crawling because he was frustrated and in the middle of hardcore teething.  He was nursing non-stop day and night, I hadn't yet found out about high-needs babes, and I was deeply burned out - angry at the baby, resentful of my husband and his freedom, generally depressed.  Not good.

 

Our constant struggles: DS gets incredibly frustrated when faced with his own limitations.  We had very rough patches right before crawling and walking.  He needs human interaction.  Lots of humans.  If it's just me around (which is the case most of the time), he gets bored, fussy, clingy, wants to nurse every five minutes, needs me in his face playing with him directly.  He can't handle having me pay attention to anything else - I can't set him up to play and then go about tidying the room, or give him some pots and pans and go about cooking like I see other moms do.  He doesn't tolerate a carrier anymore, for any length of time.  If I'm not very proactive about getting breaks, I WILL burnout.  Right now he's being fairly tolerant of the car seat, but he has full-on purple-faced meltdowns, and when we're going through those phases I'm effectively housebound.  He wakes about every 1.5-2 hours at night, which is not a problem as it relates to sleep, but it does affect my perception of "me-time."  His sleep is so unpredictable that I can't get involved in any kind of activity without being worried he's going to wake up and need me at any moment (this goes for sex, reading a book, knitting, watching a movie, folding laundry, sewing, all the hobbies and interests that used to form my identity before "MOM" took over entirely...).  I can get bitterly jealous of moms who can put their baby down, then go out for a late movie or a party without worrying about being needed in the middle of the night.

 

How I've coped:  Since human interaction and constant input seem to be the things that make DS happy, we go to malls a lot.  It's even better than a park for him.  He is so happy to walk up and down the aisles, babbling and smiling at anyone who will give him a second glance.  Lowering expectations of myself - I had a talk with DH, and he now does the cleaning (I tidy as much as I can, but he does 100% of stuff like bathrooms, dusting, floor cleaning, etc).  He was actually thrilled to be able to help.  Like I said, I'm proactive about getting breaks - relaxation doesn't happens spontaneously, you have to plan it.  It's as simple as going to the grocery store while the baby stays home with DH.  30 minutes once a week is enough.  I have to remind myself that anything I'm trying to do can wait - but he can't.  I sometimes need to go down the list of remarkable qualities he has to remind myself why I am so lucky to be his mom.  I've found myself chanting "he's a baby, he's a baby, he's a baby" - he isn't punishing me, he's only expressing his needs, it isn't fair to be angry at him, I'm only frustrated with the situation, etc.  

 

Does anyone know if there are any high-needs toddler books out there?  I have the Fussy Baby Book, but I'm looking more for tips on appropriate discipline, since we're about to be truly in the realm of toddlerhood.  Right now I'm reading The Emotional Life of a Toddler and Parenting with Purpose.




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#23 of 84 Old 12-30-2011, 08:31 AM
 
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Quote:
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My DS (16mo) fits all but 1 or 2 of Sear's definition of "high needs", so, yeah, I hear ya. I'm pregnant (what was i thinking?!), trying to buy a house, and completely drained. It is so hard!! He's actually a lot less clingy and needy when we're out, so most people really don't "buy" it, which is frustrating. When we're out, though, he wants to run away, get into and climb on everything (so curious and active!). He nurses all the time, including all night, woke at 4:30 the last 2 mornings and is up, won't go back down. (his normal wake up time is 5, so not much different). 



Oh gosh, this is SO true for us!  DS is such a smily, happy, content kid when other people are around.  He's a big ham, loves interacting with people.  The comment I hear most often is, "Is he always so happy?"  Ha...no.  When it's just us, he needs to be playing with me (WITH me, not next to me or watching...WITH me), or he's on my hip.  No joke - if I have to walk away from him, even a couple of feet, I back away because he can't handle being walked away from.  If I back away and talk to him the whole time, he's cool, but if I turn my back it's immediate, heart-breaking, wounded crying.  

 

He also wants to be down and running around wherever we are...which makes grocery shopping nearly impossible.  He doesn't tolerate a carrier, and if I put him in the cart I have about ten minutes before he's crying to be held, and then he immediately twists to get down.  Not even the coolest toy will distract him from wanting to get down.




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#24 of 84 Old 01-23-2012, 08:04 PM
 
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Hey again.  I have to cook all my own food since travels to Asia 10 years ago.  I am still sensitive to pre-made stuff but most of the pain, bloating, etc. is gone since I got healed of gluten intolerance.  (Thankyou, Jesus.)  It takes a lot of time and effort.  Our son never slept more than 10-11 hours in 24 since he was 8 months old, even when he napped.  When he was 8 months old he decided he didn't like sleep, and did everything possible to avoid it from then until about 2 and a half.  Now that he's almost three he still fights, but not as hard.  At 8 months he had 2 top and bottom front teeth.  My nipples were cracked and he was biting me when he woke up every hour to nurse.  It hurt so bad, and I tried to quit but he would cry for hours if I gave him the bottle (even with pumped milk).  The guy upstairs moved out.  I realize now that it wasn't because he needed to nurse every hour but because he was in the habit, and eventually I trained him to go back to sleep by just rolling over so he couldn't smell the milk as much.  Then he only nursed every 2 hours.  Over another 8 months I weaned him.  After 6 months he was only nursing in the morning and at night, and maybe when I got home from work.  I tried to work but I wasn't getting enough sleep.  It was like he could just sense when I needed him to sleep and those were the nights he would be awake for hours in the middle of the night.  

 

He's also super sensitive to any sort of disruption in his sleep schedule.  Jamie's on shift work, which is really tough.  If we go on vacation I have learned how to get him back to his schedule, but I am also ready for it to take up to 3 weeks.  

 

 

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#25 of 84 Old 01-25-2012, 04:43 PM
 
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Mama, just wanted to offer support... my DD1 was (and still is - age 9) a very high needs child, and until I had the second, I didn't realize she was just that way. I thought it was me for a long time, couldn't understand why everyone else was having an easier time of it. I wish you luck and rest and I'm glad you've found some mamas who can relate and hopefully help!

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#26 of 84 Old 01-26-2012, 01:53 AM
 
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Just wanted to check back in. I'm totally sick and tired of being sick and tired. There's nothing I can do to make this child happy. There's nothing I can do to make him stop hurting us. There's nothing I can do to make him safe in our home. I'm a single mom again and no, I can't get daycare to give me a bit of a rest from him. I'm so totally screwed and wish I never had this child. gloomy.gif


hide.gif Me 41, single mom to modifiedartist.gifdd 4/2001 and demon.gif ds 7/17/2010

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#27 of 84 Old 01-26-2012, 03:42 AM
 
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@terrilein

Talk to a fostering agency, someone out there would love him and not regret adopting him.


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#28 of 84 Old 01-26-2012, 05:14 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Terrilein View Post

Just wanted to check back in. I'm totally sick and tired of being sick and tired. There's nothing I can do to make this child happy. There's nothing I can do to make him stop hurting us. There's nothing I can do to make him safe in our home. I'm a single mom again and no, I can't get daycare to give me a bit of a rest from him. I'm so totally screwed and wish I never had this child. gloomy.gif

Terrilein, I'm really really concerned about you & your son. Something needs to change, and FAST. What do you think would help you feel OK with things? Are there respite services or foster care available in your area? How about counseling? I see you are in Germany, do you have something like Early Intervention there? How about friends/family/neighbor who can take him so you can get a break? A school kid who can play with him for a bit while you take a nap in another room? Is adoption a route you want to explore?

You sound so miserable but I don't think it is normal to feel the way you do about your child. I have a very very high-needs 3-year-old myself (though he's greatly improved over the past year!) and I can't say I have ever felt that I wished I never had him. Even at his worst, I wanted him in my life. Even when I wanted to run away or crawl into bed and never get out, some part of me was glad DS was a part of my life. I'm really worried that you are depressed or something, or just stressed way beyond your breaking point. Have you checked in Finding Your Tribe to see if anyone can help with local resources? Do you have real life support locally?

I apologize if you are just venting and I'm overreacting to what you've said, it just concerns me greatly. We all need to vent sometimes but if you truly feel the way you've said you do, you owe it to your son to find a way into a better situation for both of you, whatever that means for you.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#29 of 84 Old 01-27-2012, 03:46 AM
 
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Terrilien, I can totally relate to wishing that you had never had a child. My DD goes through excruciatingly difficult phases, and while I love and adore her, sometimes at the end of the day, I wish I had never had a child. I collapse on the couch (in the 45 minutes before she wakes up again) and cry. She has many problems and challenges and I don't think other moms understand that while it may not be normal for them, loving your child and wishing you had never had them because you are beleaguered on all sides with no help and no respite can coexist. IT is human. And I think people's suggestions are it is not are rather dogmatic about the way a mom is suppose to feel.

 

Maybe they are worried it might lead to hurting your child or neglect. Do you think this is the case? I had to get my husband to take time off from work because I was worried about this when my DD was younger and I hadn't had a REM cycle in 5 weeks. But we had the luxury of a savings. Being alone is so much harder. Where in Germany are you?

 

Is there some way you can have a little relief in the short term so that you can get some rest so that you can think and work out a longer term solution? Do you think there is something medical going on with your LO given the suddeness of this?

 

I am so sorry you are having such a hard time. Hugs to you and I hope things get better.

 

 


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#30 of 84 Old 01-31-2012, 03:03 PM
 
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I can relate too.  I do love Josiah but some weeks I am so tired and my husband seems to do so little I feel like finding someone to adopt him.  But once I get some sanity time this feeling usually subsides, at least for a while.  There seems to be a desperate need for change in your situation, and the hardest thing to do is reach up and do something.  But you need to remember you are powerful and there is hope, even if it means adopting out your child so you can have a life worth living.   

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