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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know where to begin. I posted over in BF, but I think it may belong here. I think I am failing at AP, or maybe AP is failing me. Maybe I should start with DS1 Kearnan. I didn't actually choose AP with him, I just fell into it. I breastfed because I was breastfed and I knew it was the right thing to do. I co-slept because he slept better next to me and it just felt nice. I used gentle discipline because I wanted him to respect me and the rules because it was right, not because he was afraid. I extended breastfed because it felt right. We delayed solids because I didn't want to mess with force feeding him baby foods. We made mistakes, we were young and uncertain, but we made it through. And he did well. He was happy and social and independant and a fairly good sleeper. I felt good about our parenting decisions for the most part. He was diagnosed with PDD NOS at 3, a result of a bad reaction to vax's at 18 months. But still through all of the struggles AP just seemed to be the right thing to do. I didn't really choose it, but it fit us. So when we finally brought ds2 Tharen into the world after losing our daughter and many months of TTC and a hard pregnancy I just knew we would AP again. I felt like this is what was right for us. Meeting our children's needs couldn't be wrong. I wanted to do what was best for my kids and my family. I wanted to raise happy healthy individuals.

I knew things might not be easy, adding a baby to a house with a special needs child was bound to be difficult. But Kearnan was on a therapy regimin, and along with the work we were doing at home he was doing well. I knew we should prepare for things to get difficult for a while. I knew Kearnan might have a hard time adjust and that some of his therapy might fall by the wayside for awhile. We wouldn't have as much time for in home therapy and potty training. But I figured after a few months we would find a new routine and get back to a new normal. Apparently this is where I was wrong.

Kearnan actually handled his brother's birth well. He was totally smitten with his new baby, and didn't mind if he wasn't the center of attention for awhile. But the weeks have turned to months, and Tharen will be 1 soon and we still haven't found a routine. Tharen is not the easiest child. He doesn't sleep well and demands non stop interaction. I can't even look at Kearnan without him screaming. Forget working on therapy or potty training, I am lucky if I can feed Kearnan and get his diapers changed. Kearnan spends most of his day watching tv or playing video games, not something I had been hoping for. And all of this time I spend trying to meet Tharen's needs doesn't seem to be helping him any either. He is clingy and unhappy most of the day.

I need help, I don't know where to turn. We have hit an especially rough patch and I will admit I am feeling very guilty. I chose AP because I wanted to do what was best for my family, to meet my children's needs, but I don't feel like anyones needs are being adequately met. Yes everyone is fed and relatively clean. Kearnan is making all of his appts and managing to make strides in his recovery. But he isn't doing as well as he could be if I had even a little bit of time to work with him. And his need for affection and interaction is just barely being met each day. I can't even count the number of times in the past two days I have had to look into my child's eyes, my child who has worked so hard to be able to express his needs, and tell him I'm sorry but I can't hold you right now, your brother is crying. I cna't get you food your brother is eating. I can't kiss your boo boo your brother is sleeping. I can't take you to the potty your brother needs me. No one's needs are being met but Tharen's, and I don't really feel like I am doing a very good job meeting his needs as he seems to constantly be unhappy. He cries so much. No one is happy in our home. The boys are misserable, dh is misserable and I am miserable. How can I AP two children when meeting one's needs means having to turn away from the other. How is it fair that Kearnan always has to wait because he is older. And I know when people look at our family they are thinking what a terrible job we are doing. My Autistic 5yr old isn't getting the care he needs, and my demanding 11.5month old is running our house. He fusses and I jump. I really never believed you could spoil a child by responding to their cues, but now I am not so sure. Instead of blossoming into a confident toddler, my baby is whiny and clingy and screams if I so much as stand up to get a tissue. He won't go to my mother, he won't go to my father (and we live with them so he sees them every day). He won't even go to his own father. He screams for me to hold him, and then whines while I hold him. I can't seem to make him happy. HE doesn't take naps at all and if I put him in a carrier to try and do laundry or cook or take Kearnan to the potty he throws a fit. He wakes up every two hours all night to nurse, and instead of just fussing a little or nudgeing me he screams bloody murder until I can get my nipple in his mouth. I have never failed to meet even one of his cues, never. I am always there when he needs me, but he seems to feel the need to scream to get my attention. I'm tired and I am feeling incredibly guilty about all of it. I feel like I am permanently ruining my children and I don't know where to go or what to do. I can't talk to my parents, they reccomend CIO, spanking, weaning ect. And I am having a hard time arguing against those things now. How can I tell them they are wrong when my kids are so unhappy and I am so unhappy. With Kearnan I could always say, but see how well he is doing. See how happy he is, see how confident. Even after the diagnosis I could say but see how he blossoms with the right attention. But Tharen has really thrown me for a loop. The more responsive I am the more he acts out. The more I cuddle him the more he demands. And poor little Kearnan just sits by waiting for his turn. Waiting for his mommy to have a tiny bit of time for him. IT is breaking my heart.

I am sorry this is so long, I just didn't know where else to go. Thank you for reading along, more than anything I just think I needed to vent and needed to know that some one understood. Please some one tell me this is a phase and we will get through it, or that there is something I can do to fix this. Please tell me I am not scarring my kids for life here.
 

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Well, I don't know much about looking after two little ones but just wanted to express sympathy... Is it possible Tharen might have health issues that make him cry a lot? Like a food allergy or something? (that's just my first thought because they run in my family and DH's - his mom says he cried all the time his first year)

I'm sorry I'm not much help, but I'm sure you will find a solution - it sounds like you are a very dedicated mama.
 

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Oh mama.
Everyone I know says it is so hard with a baby and a toddler or pre-schooler, and your situation sounds especially challenging with a high needs infant and special needs older child. I have only one child, but she has been very intense and needy, perhaps like your infant son. I was wondering if perhaps you have looked into any physical sources for his crying? My little one has reflux, and once we got it more under control, things have gotten better. I have also found that she benefits and calms from my wearing her as much as I am able (I have a bad back, so that can limit it somewhat). Babywearing might also free up your hands more for your 5 yo.

You are following your instincts by not allowing him to CIO, and you are right. You are a good mama for looking out for both of your children so much. Is there any way you can perhaps get more support in your home, from a family member or hire a mother's helper to come once in a while? A local AP support group (if you can find one) would also probably help you.

I wish I could help more, but I do feel for you, and hope some ladies here have some good ideas.
 

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I'm sorry things are so tough for you!!

I wonder if Tharen is sensing that while you're meeting all his concrete needs, you're emotionally aching for Kearnan and wishing you could spend more time with him. At the same time as Tharen is "in the way" of your having time to do things with Kearnan, your worries about Kearnan are in the way of fully being with Tharen. That's a painful place for you to be and hard for both of them to understand.
Could you divide the day into times when you focus on Kearnan and times when you focus on Tharen? I'm not suggesting that you totally neglect one boy, just that you create a time when you consciously resist worrying about one of them in order to give the other your whole-hearted attention.

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He won't go to my mother, he won't go to my father (and we live with them so he sees them every day). He won't even go to his own father. He screams for me to hold him, and then whines while I hold him. I can't seem to make him happy.
This is a really tough situation! I am in awe of you just for surviving it!
I wonder, since he isn't happy when you're with him anyway, if it would work to be firm about leaving him with one of these other loving adults while you make time for Kearnan. You could start with 15 minutes and later work up to a longer time. I know that sounds a lot like a CIO regimen, but remember that putting him into the care of his father or grandparents is not the same as leaving him alone! He won't like it at first, but maybe he'll warm to it...especially if you return feeling refreshed and less worried about Kearnan.

I'm not a mother of multiple children, so I'm not speaking from direct personal experience. I am a developmental psychologist, if that means anything.
And I saw that you were suffering and couldn't bear not trying to help.
 

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first of all


ap does not guarantee children who are perfectly behaved and happy all the time

Your youngest ds is IMO at one of the more difficult ages. He's still a baby, it's not his fault. It should get easier. Eventually.

Is there any way the grandparents could help with your older ds? Or could he go to preschool? I know in our area there are preschools designed for kids with his issues.
 

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Oh Mama!! You are having such a struggle! I'm SURE you prly don't have much time for extra reading, but some of what you wrote reminded me of case-studies in a book called "Raising a Secure Child" which discusses Attachment Parenting on varying degrees of security. So, one of the things the book delves into is the idea that you can have a firm attachment with your child, but it may be an INSECURE one. This is evidenced by baby's reaction to brief separation (moments) and reunion. What you described sounded like something staight out of the book. The book is about Emotional Availability (which is what it sounds like you're feeling like you're not fully able to provide, lately, right?)

Maybe, like a pp said, T is aware of that sense that you're not able to fully engage him without worrying, etc, and your tesion is ambient. He's picking up on it. Also, at almost a year, he's learning that a good ear-piercing scream gets fast results. I know that right now, in this sleep-deprived time of anxiety, days must feel like weeks... but maybe by changing a couple of things, and sticking with it for a solid 3-4 weeks, u will begin to see over-all improvement.

Recommend:
1) check T's diet, and yours... if he's still nursing a lot, AND eating solids, a dietary allergy may be messing with his moods.

2) I know some mos on this board don't dig it, but the No-Cry Sleep Method did wonders for my SIL, and for us... you don't have to quit co-sleeping. However, for my other SIL, quitting co-sleeping is exactly what got her EXTREMELY fussy one to sleep better at night, and start taking naps. The no-naps-crying-jags-unconsoleably-frustrated-baby sound a lot like over-tiredness... do you think he could be over-tired? A lot of babes his age still need two naps a day, plus long night-rest.

3)Make the most of floor-time and togetherness with BOTH boys, and with Dad, too, whenever possible. Do u have a tent or tunnel, or other indoor play structure for gross motor? Make a fort out of chairs and sheets and encourage both boys to follow-the-leader. A new product out is the Aqua Doodle floor mat. Great for both ages and development levels... Brainstorm, make a list of other activities both of them can do together with you, and with you at a peripheral level, too.

Make a list of these things and/or others that may be affecting your family. Start by picking 1 thing you know you can focus on, be it diet, sleep, or bonding-play. Work at it. But just work at that ONE thing, for the time-being... After you feel you've made a change that works for all of you, and have incorporated the change into your routine, cross it off the list and move to the next thing.

These are just ideas from a VERY sympathetic mom. Situations like yours and the deep desire to help are my inspiration; trying to complete my Family Counseling Degree...

Good luck.. PM me if you wanna talk more...
 

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Wow, that does sound like a rough situation. And I agree, having two makes splitting attention a little trickier.

One thing that even Dr. Sears talks about is helping a baby become a little more independent as they get older - i.e. not every "fuss" is a cry. Not everything must be dropped. Is your son fussing or really screaming and crying? If he is really screaming (as in, sounds the same as when he's in pain), I agree about looking into other diagnoses or issues. That sounds somewhat unusual?

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Imagine your seven-month-old baby playing at your feet and you're on the phone. Baby starts to fuss and give pick-me-up gestures. Instead of dropping the phone and anxiously scooping up fussing baby, put on your happy face, caringly acknowledge baby and make voice contact, "It's okay, Molly…" In this way, your body language is reflecting, "No problem, baby; no need to fuss." Another favorite phrase in the Caribbean is "don't worry, be happy." By your body language, convey to your baby - be happy, not fussy.
At one year old, his needs don't necessarily have to come before his big brother's, unless they're super-important (i.e. starving, hurt, or crazy-tired baby). My almost one-year-old understands the phrase "just a minute" as meaning that his need will be met shortly, but not right away. Because sometimes, one child's needs are more pressing than the other's.

I agree with PP who suggest encouraging time with other parent or grandparents. Are you also sending signals of confidence in those other trusted adults? Having a trusting, good relationship with the other parent is very important, I feel. That parent will develop care strategies which may differ from yours, but no less important.

I would bite the bullet, as it were, and take your older son out for a hot chocolate and be gone for about an hour. It sounds like your eldest needs his "love cup" refilled from his mama, and the baby certainly won't fall to pieces being alone with dad for an hour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all so much, you have given me alot to think about. But it is also nice to hear that I am not alone or just being horrible. I really love my boys and I want so badly to do the right thing for them. I am really worried about Tharen though, his behavior just doesn't seem normal to me. I am trying not to compare him to Kearnan, but it just doesn't seem like any child should be so unhappy. Some things I have thought of that might be causing it are -Lack of sleep -Developmental stuff -Teething -Undiagnosed Medical issues I really don't think he is getting enough sleep, he isn't getting much at night (at least I know I'm not) and he adamantly refuses to sleep more than 30 minutes during the day. Things have really come to a head in the past month or so. We went through a period where he was calmer, right after he learned to crawl things seemed to settle some. He was still very demanding, but he could play a bit on the floor and enjoyed riding on my back while I did chores, and he was happy to be with daddy for a bit in the evening. So we started a Mommy and Kearnan night where we went and did things together. We caught a couple of kiddy movies and went bowling ect. It was really great but then Tharen started having these screaming jags when I left him with his daddy so we haven't been able to do them anymore. He is just now learning to really walk and I wonder if that may play into it some. He has never had a really bad time teething, he has all 8 of his front teeth now, so I don't know if teething could have anythign to do with it or not. That leaves medical issues. He always seems to be a robust and healthy child. He is growing well and meeting his milestones developmentally. He had silent reflux as a tiny baby but it never seemed to bother him. We only knew about it because he also had torticollis. But it went away by about 4 months. It never caused weight loss or anything like that, but he was pretty coliky as a young infant. Dh also has cow milk intolerance so we have stayed away from milk products for Tharen. I still consume some, but he never seemed to react to them in my diet before this. I plan on talking to his Pedi about it at his 1yr appt in a couple of weeks. I just wonder if there is something I am not thinking of that could be causing this fussiness and sleeplessness.

I guess what it ultimately comes down to (barring any medical issues) is my need to figure out a way to meet both of their needs. I always feel like the baby's needs come first cause he is a baby, and because he screams if I don't respond instantaneously to him. But I know now that he is approaching 1 his needs are not necessarily more imediate than Kearnan's. But Kearnan is sooo patient and Tharen definately isn't. I dont' want to short change Kearnan though. He shouldn't be punished for being patient. And you are all right, it won't kill Tharen to stay with his daddy for a while so Kearnan and I can have some time together. Maybe we will try to get a nice day planned for an outing for the two of us. I have always wanted to take him ice skating
. I am also going to look into the No Cry Sleep Solution. I desperately need at the very least for him to start napping during the day. First of all because I think he will be happier if he is well rested. And also because if I can get him to take even a 45min nap I can spend some time doing therapy and crafts with Kearnan, which will make us both feel better. I am also looking at a Family music together class that I think might be nice for us all to do together. I spend so much time dragging Kearnan to therapy but Tharen doesn't get to participate. I think it will be neat to do somethign that will not only be therapuetic for Kearnan, but also hopefully fun for us all and show the boys that they really can have fun together. I guess the disadvantage to the boys being so far apart in age is that they don't necessarily enjoy the same things. But music is something we all love.

Thank you all so much for the advice, and the sympathy. It is nice to know I am not alone. Things just kind of got way worse the past few weeks and I was starting to feel really down and like maybe I wasn't making the right decisions. IT is nice to have some feedback that I am doing the right thing by sticking to AP, having a high needs baby doesnt' change that. Keep the good ideas coming, it is great to get some outside perspective.
 

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Well, you are totally not alone. We have the same issues here. I dont have one with special needs, but Anna just turned three on Saturday and Catherine is 18 months. I feel like in many ways I have done things more "by the AP book" with Catherine, and she is my more demanding child. My husband has commented on how I am so much more lenient with Catherine; I havent ever done cry it out with her (although with Anna, she didn't cosleep well and she never really cried, just fussed a bit sometimes, not usually) so she still sleeps with us/ goes to bed when we do or she literally falls down in exhaustion bc I cant get her to sleep otherwise. She screams these ear piercing screams and gets picked up, even sometimes having to move Anna from my lap. (Im sorry, Anna, Catherine wants milk.) Sheesh, I am in many ways a terrible mom; Anna watches too much television too. It is just hard to meet the needs of two sometimes, although they do play well together too. I want to know how the moms of many do it! I am definitely going to check out the Raising a Secure Child book.

Id definitely do the family music class. We love, love, love Music Together. It is so much fun! Maybe Dad or Grandma could take Thareen OUT somewhere? I have noticed that while Catherine has a fit if I leave her at the house, if she is the one leaving with someone (park/ walk/ etc), she will just wave and say "bye bye." Wonder if that would make him feel more in control, if he were the one leaving?

It does sound like maybe he is physically uncomfortable or something, or even that he WAS physically uncomfortable and formed a habit then. I would definitely talk to the doc about it. Sleep deprivation is awful, for you and him. I would love to know how to get mine to sleep more too! I think you probably do need to not always make his needs come first though. It sounds like sometimes he may have to wait while big brother gets cuddled or taken potty or read to, etc - either with Dad or Grandma/ Grandpa, or even on his own. Catherine does sometimes have to wait, which sucks and probably isnt AP, but its not right for big sister (who isn't as patient as yours is) to always get the shaft either. I like the taking turns focusing on each child approach, as well as the leaving baby with caregiver and going out approach ideas. I hate to mention it, but is it possible with your older child having autism that your baby could be on the spectrum too? Or have sensory issues that make him unhappy? Has he been evaluated by an EI OT person?

And this is an absolutely evil suggestion and I expect to be flamed, but have you tried putting on a Baby Signing Time or Baby Babble dvd for Thareen to spend time with your older son?

Sigh. Im trying to figure out how to balance the needs of people and not let my baby walk all over the rest of us too. She is so good at that scream, and I give in to her because she is a baby (well, 18 months), but I'm starting to think that everyone would be happier with some more (gentle) limits and that they might be appropriate now. But Catherine is verbal too, which helps. Have you done baby sign language?
 

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I am so sorry mama! Parenting is so hard. I feel like I fail a lot. My son is very high energy, and I am due with my second in June. I am getting very anxious about how I am going to parent two kiddos at the same time. And I don't even have as much on my plate as you do. Just wanted to wish you well, you are doing your best, and that is all we can do.

Sending a hug your way.
 
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