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#1 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Help!

Ever since dd was born, now almost one year ago, I've had this expectation that things would get easier -- but in my case, they're just getting more and more difficult. dd is an incredibly smart, active baby, but is also very high needs. It would be fine if it were just a matter of holding her all the time -- I always had this nice picture of my baby strapped to me in her sling as I went about my business. But she's not content to just be held -- she wants stimulation, stimulation and more stimulation -- always doing something different every five minutes.

I quit my successful 15-year major gifts fundraising career to be a SAHM, and I was fully committed to that idea. But I must admit that after my old university recruited me back to do part-time at-home consulting (15 hours/week), the time away from dd has saved my life. On days like today when I don't have a babysitter because I'm not working, it's hard for me to get through the day -- she's up at 5 and is not a napper, so I'm pretty much "on" for 15 hours straight. And I can't do anything else but sit there in the easy chair in the livingroom, feeling like I'm in jail, desperately trying to entertain dd while the hours creep by so slowly. Even though she's eating a ton of solid foods by now, she's constantly nursing when she's with me (even though I doubt she's getting much milk) -- and if I dare try to read a magazine or -- god forbid -- get dinner on the table -- she'll start screaming and fussing.

And the worst thing is that we're stuck at home. She has consistently hated the car since she was born, so the minute I put her in her car seat she starts screaming. Doing errands is a nightmare -- she won't be content in her sling or in the stroller.

In addition, she refuses to go to dh if I'm anywhere in the house. When I actually am able to leave the house on my own for an hour or so, I come back to her screaming and his complaining that she was a terror.

I really do believe that now that she's reaching the 1-year mark, it's time to stop being a slave to her needs, to start teaching her delayed gratification, etc., but I have no idea how to do it. I can't stand the screaming and fussing that ensues when I try to step away from her for a five-minute period. I've read Dr. Sears' discipline book, but I think most of the advice is geared toward older children.

Sorry I've rambled for so long, but I'm really at the end of my rope. I feel like every time I've posted here for the past twelve months I've been saying the same thing -- "I'm at the end of my rope" -- hoping, always, that things will improve. But again, as I said at the beginning of this post, things just seem to be getting worse! I love my dd desperately, and I sense that a lot of this high-needs stuff is really the result, in her case, of an extraordinary personality, but I am just so exhausted -- I'm even contemplating going back to work full-time just so I can get a break! When I left my career, I gave up a promotion to a directorship that would have brought LOTS of financial rewards, as well as a lot of authority. I look at myself now, dazed, tired, watching the clock slowly move, and I wonder -- did I make the right decision? Am I just no good at this motherhood thing?

Does anyone have any advice for me?
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#2 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 01:06 AM
 
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Oh, I FEEL your pain....seriously.

I left a management job to stay home with beautiful, wonderful dd and it is a rough transition..... constant, constant need....

I was really stuck at home for the first year also (dd was a preemie and we chose to keep her isolated for quite a while)

I don't have any great immediate answers, but I can tell you that around 15 months or so, dd *totally* turned a corner. She became more content "out of arms". Could play by herself for a few moments. Liked to dance to music, etc. Her increased mobility meant I didn't have to be completely responsible for stimulating her, KWIM?

I was lucky in that my dh stayed home quite a bit with us and dd became very bonded to him (at around 12 or 13 months) So, he is totally able to give me a break. Does your dh know how to keep dd entertained? I'm wondering if he could build up his "baby entertainment" skills to build up their relationship. Dh is the primary "rough housing" parent. Swinging her around, tossin her on the bed, tickling a bit, etc.... She LOVES that! Is there something that she really loves that he could "specialize"
in?

I really do believe that they hit a point where they choose to be more independent....and for high needs babies I think that the more consistently you meet their neediness, the sooner that may happen. That is just my own personal opinion.

DD also adores our kitty and dogs. She would rather toddle around the house after them than anything. Sometimes, when she is really acting clingy and I just *can't* handle it, I distract her by asking, "where is the kitty?" She invariably takes off to look for her and it gives me a moment to breathe....

Sorry I can't be more help, but it really will get better!

Hugs....
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#3 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 01:36 AM
 
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I've been where you are many times. I agree with Riley's mom. It WILL get easier. I found that my kids, around 18 months, start to find interest in other things. They still stick pretty close to me but can be self entertained for about a half hour or so at a time. It takes about three years for them to really seperate and still they aren't really what I would call independant until well after 5 years old.

Hang in there. One day you'll miss it, I promise!

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#4 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 01:38 AM
 
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I rembember when my first child was born. When I went back to work part time when she was 3 months old it was such a relief! I felt guilty about it, but I NEEDED that break. Now I am working at a private pre-school and two days a week I help with the babies. Most of the kids there are now toddlers and it makes SUCH a difference when they start walking. Is your dd walking yet? I bet you will see a real difference in her when she is able to get around by herself (and entertain herself).

I agree with you that there does come a time when it is really OK to encourage some independence. That idea might get you slammed at this forum, but YOU know your baby and yourself best.

I am reading a book now "Children: the Challenge". I don't like all of it, but it says that when you do everything for your kids then you actually DIScourage their independence. They begin to think that you don't believe in their abilities and so they stop trying.

Oh, and tell you dh to suck it up and take care of his child for a while without making you feel bad for it later. He needs to do it for him as much as you need it for you.

good luck
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#5 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 01:48 AM
 
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Oh sweetie, I know right where you're at!

I have a very active, very needy 15 month old who sounds almost exactly like what you describe. And my dh is working full time and going to school full time, so there are a few days a week where I am alone with her all day and I feel like I'm going to go nuts! The only thing that saves me is that we go out somewhere everyday. Even if we just walk to the library that's around the corner, it gives me a break and makes that time, at least, pass faster. I always start to feel better and regain perspective after i've been out of the house for awhile. Are there places close to home that you can go with her? One of our facorite things is to go to one of those fast food places that are close by (we don't eat anything) and just let her play on the equpiment. It's also been very warm around here lately, and yesterday, we went outside and let her run around after the dog in the yard. It did wonders for my mood.

Is she walking yet? I've found a world of difference in her personality since she's been able to walk. I seriously think that a majority of the frustration in my little high-needs baby came because she knew what she wanted to do and just couldn't do it. Now that she's more mobile, she has periods of time where she can play by herself or go off and entertain herself for a little while, as long as I'm nearby to check in with. Does she like to interact with other kids? We have a few kids in our neighborhood that are almost her age, and watching them run around is pure entertainment for her. Or, are there any older kids that she likes? We had my eight year old second cousin here today for the superbowl, and Abby had so much fun with her- the one on one attention for her was priceless. I couldn't leave them alone of course, but it gave me a few minutes to turn myself off high-alert mode, do you know what I mean?

Hang in there. I know that everyone says that it will get better, and sometimes, that's the only thing I have to hang on to!

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#6 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 01:49 AM
 
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I feel your pain. My baby (13½mo) is very attached to me. I can't hand her off to anyone (even DH) with her crying/screaming. She hasn't been "slung" in the past month or two, just because my back has been killing me. It's hard, but you know, my other two girls have been very independant, and having Olivia be this attached is actually pretty nice.

Good Luck! I hope you can find a balance!
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#7 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 02:16 AM
 
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yes, i too remember coming back to a screaming child and a scowling dad who complains that 'all he wants is you'. now that ds #1 is 2, he can actually take him places w/out me and do fun stuff together, w/out him always crying for me (of course, now w/ a 5 m old baby into the mix: )

what really sucks is sitting up all night with one after the other (and god forbid, both at once) waking each other up, then getting dirty looks because on my dh's 'day off' i wanna *sleep* a little (and he had *gasp* both babies- wah!)

yes, burn out is a frequent companion here too. it doesn't help now, but try to remember, it is such a short time. oh my aching, slingy back! suse
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#8 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Many, many thanks for all your kind words of encouragement and support. You folks are a lifeline, and I am grateful.

Today was a much better day. Despite the extreme cold that still seems to be hanging on over here in the northeast, I bundled dd up and took her outside for a short walk, and then we even were successful in the car for a 15 minute drive. I took her to Starbucks, where she was a little angel (she likes to be where there are other people she can look at), looking at some children's books they have there, sitting in my lap as I was even able to drink my venti soy latte. Such a little thing makes such a huge difference! Then I really enjoyed watching her play with dh when he got home -- she actually went over to him and wanted to be picked up, even when I was in the room. Small miracles!

Onward and upward --

Many thanks once again --
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#9 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 10:17 PM
 
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My 8 year old was very high need child. How did we get through it? Reading you post made me want to weep and laugh at the same time. I am so so sorry you get to the end of your rope. Hang on sister! I does get better, and my dd now 8 is extraordinary. Your guess about your baby is proabably right on. Look at her sleeping now and agian, I remember that helping me recall that she was more than just a bundle of needs, and fusses and tears. Bless you, Janice, your baby got a good mamma!!!
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#10 of 14 Old 01-27-2003, 11:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by carmen veranda
Bless you, Janice, your baby got a good mamma!!!

This is so true! I'm sorry you are having a rough time, Janice. I've known you since Isolde was just a newborn, and I know what a handful you've had with her. But there are good moments, too, aren't there? And you WILL get through this.

Big, big hugs to you, my former LLL mama!!!!




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#11 of 14 Old 01-28-2003, 06:17 PM
 
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I've worked 2 to 3 half days per week since Dd was 6 weeks. I've had a love hate relationship with my work. I hate leaving Dd crying for me even though she loves my mother and has a great time with her. I've had days where I've been mentally absent from work. But all in all I enjoy my work and being there has probably been good for my mental health. Still, I don't expect to increase my work time in the near future, and I'd even like to keep it town to 2 half days, not 3.

I really enjoy the days home with her, maybe because it is not every day. But one thing that has reallly kept us happy has been doing a lot of things based on the book, Continuum Concept.

The idea is that your time focusus on what needs to be done, not amusing your baby. Not that you let your baby cry while you do the laundry - more that you do the laundry but involve your baby. Dd feels very focused on but the activities do not revolve around her.

Before I started doing this I was feeling like I was at the bad end of a taskmistresse's whip. I read the book and made the changes immediately, when she was about 8 months old. She really got into the new routines.

I don't get lots of specific things done, and I hate that drive "to get things done," but I feel like our time is spent in a mutually enjoyable way, not like I'm at her beck and call (which I am, but sometimes it's better not to feel that way).

It sounds like that's what you did on that Starbuck's day - you led and Dd happily followed. I wonder if sometimes the distress is actually that "need for structure" you sometimes hear "experts" talk about. As my father used to say, no one's perfect, idiots can't be wrong all the time.
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#12 of 14 Old 01-28-2003, 06:45 PM
 
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Your dd sounds just like my dd (who is now 20mo.) My dd totally wears me (and dh) out at home, but if we can get her to the park or coffee shop or restaurant or just out she has a great time seeing her people. We're having a harder time now in the "cold" weather, but not too bad. I also used to take her to the petstore just to look at the fish and birds and stuff. She loved it and it was an hour that all I had to do was follow her around. Our best strategy these days is to have a friend come over. Second best is to watch Sesame street. I hate that she watches TV, but it's the only way we get a break.

Just in case you haven't read these books, they helped me out:

The Emotional Life of the toddler
The Fussy Baby Book (Sears)
Raising your Spirited Child
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#13 of 14 Old 01-28-2003, 08:17 PM
 
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Janice, I have been thinking about you. I didn't feel like my post was very helpful. So on further thought, here are some things I think may have helped me with my Spirted dd. BTW that Spirited Child book, I found very nice.
Routine- Madeline seemed to thrive with keeping times fairly consistent. Especially in the evening, bath, bed and story with careful consistency helped her. She needs more sleep than either of my other dd's. So firm bedtimes are a must, for her. I know if we stay up late, the next day will be harder for her, so it better be good reason! On weekends, she frequently still naps.
Food- Protein in the morning. This has continued to be a need for her. Without it, her mood and cooperation suffers. She has to have VERY limited sugar or she really suffers. Ditto food dye. Plenty of fresh vegies, she craves them!!
Activity-Early bedtimes, I've mentioned. She also seems to really benefit from getting outside everyday, and running, or jumping rope, or on the trampoline. Big physical movement once a day. And sunshine. On days when the sun doesn't shine for a couple of days in a row, she suffers too. She has always loved to be out and about. Prior to 9/11, when we could just go to the airport, we used to go out there to "run her". It is a small regional airport and inbetween flights, it is nearly abdandoned. So we would go out in the winter and she would just dig it. Better than the mall with the icky music and too many people. We live near a park and try to get there as often as possible, even when it is cold. We love to bundle up and go outside and shovel. She is my big shoveling helper!!
I am sorry if I sounded dismissive when I wrote that reading your post made we want to laugh. I want you to know, that I admire you greatly for trying to find ways to keep your family happy and healthy and fun in the midst of uncertainty and burn out. Hang in there. You all will figure out ways to make your family work that honors all of you and all of your personalities. Motherhood is such a journey!!! You sound like such a loving mom!

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#14 of 14 Old 01-30-2003, 03:09 AM
 
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Janice,

My dd is only 7 months, so I can't offer much advice. But I hope it hleps for you to hear that reading your post and seeing how similar your dd is to mine, and that I'm not the only one with such a baby, is very comforting for me.

The same as you: dd tolerates the sling in small doses, likes to be out but *hates* being in the car to get there, wants me more than daddy even when he's there to give me a break, wants almost constant stimulation, etc., etc., etc. High needs indeed.

I kept wondering, too, why I wasn't feeling more confident as a mother as time went on, especially on those trying days.

I keep saying to myself how one day I'll look back on this time with nostalgia. I already look at when dd was 1 month, 2 months, etc. and wonder where the time went.

I think each stage has the things we look forward to and the things we can't wait for to pass. But such is life, isnt' it?

HUGS,
Loon

Loon , dh , dd , and twins ds1 dd2 **Thoughts become things. - Mike Dooley**
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