I am a stay at home mom to Lauren (15), Jacob (2) and Lucas (7 months). My first 2 babies were a dream; I thought I knew how to take care of any issue that came along…until Luke arrived. He was great for the first 2-3 weeks. He was a dream baby. Nursed like a pro. It went so well, we didn’t have to supplement at all, I never got engorged…It was perfect. I thought ‘Wow, God has truly blessed us’.
Then week 2.5 came around and he started to arch his back and cry at times. After a week or so he was full out crying hysterically, and nursing for hours at a time. He would start in the evenings around 5pm and go until around 10 or 11. My husband and I would take turns holding, rocking, and singing to Luke, but nothing would help. We went and bought a new swing, got 2 bouncy seats that had different vibrating motions, and used the vibrating music attachment from the pack-n-play to rub on his bottom while rocking him.
By the time he was 5 weeks old he was just fussy all the time. He was diagnosed with reflux and put on Zantac. This helped a little, along with mylicon drops and gripe water, but he was still fussy most of the time. I did finally try getting into the tub with him at night. He would immediately stop fussing and we would be in there for an hour sometimes. He would nurse and I would talk to him and hold him close. He loved it and I got to have some great “happy baby bonding time.” Aside from bath time though, he continued to be a very unhappy baby.
When we would go to the store, and he would fuss as usual, people would stare, and make comments like, “Is he hurt?” or, “Time to feed him, huh?”. I would politely smile and say that he was fine, just a fussy baby and I had to get some things done.
As Luke got older, I did find things that helped him to be a little less fussy. Nursing on demand, holding him as opposed to putting him in his carrier in the stores, and planning things around his schedule helped. This wasn’t my first plan of action, but since nothing else worked, I had to adjust our schedule in order to keep some sanity.
When Luke was around 5 months old and started to notice things other than me, he did fuss less but was still not happy. At 6 months old he spent the night with grandma and grandpa. My husband and I needed a break after 6 months of sleepless, stressful nights, and the long days of trying to make him comfortable.
We went to a local book store and I found a book by Dr. Sears called The Fussy Baby Book. I read the first few paragraphs and was totally hooked. Every thing Dr. Sears described about his daughter was exactly what we were going through with Luke. I started to practice the attachment parenting methods he talks about in his book. I don’t think this way of parenting is for every baby. I do think that there are certain personalities that warrant it.
Luke is now almost 7.5 mos. I have noticed a great change in him. He also started to crawl about a month ago so that could be part of it; his being preoccupied with his new found freedom. Regardless, he has been so much happier. He loves being with me, and being held and loves to interact one on one. I am convinced that he needs this in order to help his hyper-sensitive nervous system to be more at ease. I carry him all the time. I wear him whenever possible and nurse him whenever he desires and he is turning into a happy, confident little person.
I don’t know whether or not it was these tactics alone that worked, or if it is that he is older, but I do wish I could have known about this when he was a tiny baby. I think that people are so worried about spoiling, that they may inadvertently spoil the bond that could have been shared if they had simply nurtured their high need baby.
Some babies are content to be fed and changed, and will just lay happily. Some babies are fine to sleep alone all night by themselves; I had 2 of these babies. But for the parents of the babies like Dr. Sears daughter, Hayden, and my Luke, it would be helpful for them to know that taking care of a fussy, high need personality may involve different strategies in order to make life easier.
This doesn’t make us failures. This doesn’t make our babies spoiled. This doesn’t make us lesser parents. I feel like mother of the year, that I have survived 7 months with Lucas! He has been very trying to say the least. I am exhausted! But I am also proud of what I have endured for the love of my child. Now when he smiles, or reaches a new milestone, I know that it was all worth it.
He is turning into a person right before my eyes, and I am so excited to get to know this little guy – The one who was so determined to get his needs across to me that he let the whole world know he meant business!
Luke is still very high need. I, however, have learned what the signs are and how to diffuse certain situations. And when I can’t diffuse, I just hold him, and kiss him, and tell him I love him…until he is ok again.