God started preparing me for my son ten years ago when I landed in a job working at the WIC (women, infant, and child) program as a nutritionist and they sent me for training to become certified as lactation consulted.
I spent five years learning about people’s families and seeing first hand what did and didn’t work in terms of child nutrition, breastfeeding and basic child rearing stuff. I had learned about all the little secrets like chiropractic for colic and cutting out dairy for breastfeeding so I knew everything about having the perfect child…or so I thought.
I tried to have a natural and organic pregnancy so I thought I would have the perfect baby.
At six weeks I was camping out on the bathroom floor and throwing up every 40 minutes on the dot day and night and that intense nausea lasted until 22 weeks. At 30 weeks I developed the pupps rash and I was covered in hives that itched so badly they burned and I wanted to rip my skin off. I couldn’t lie down and the only thing I could do about it was cry. That rash lasted until delivery.
The first night we had Joseph he was quiet as a mouse and everyone kept telling us how he looked so alert. I had no idea what that meant, but boy, was I going to find out.
The next day reality set in and he started to scream! He would not be set down at all. He wanted to nurse or suck constantly. He refused the bassinet and would only stop crying if he was nursing. I later learned his quiet alertness is how he is when he is stressed. He holds it in until he can’t take anymore and than explodes!
Once at home we learned co-sleeping was the only way this baby would sleep. He refused to be alone. He would wake up as soon as you set him down and the only way I could get him to fall asleep was by walking and bouncing him down the hall for about twenty minutes. I would have to walk and bounce him about ten times a day because he never stayed a sleep. I developed carpal tunnel. How to you hold a baby with you hands don’t unfold? He refused to cuddle. I learned to baby wear.
He was fussy with tummy issues and I quickly determined the issues to be dairy (green frothy poops) and gluten (black spots (blood) in poop). I eliminated those two things from my diet and it helped, some. I also used over 15 bottles of gripe water in the first 6 months to just give us both a break. His butt always looked like a burn victim no matter how I altered my diet or tried every natural organic diaper and diaper cream on the market.
I was exhausted and I would ask family members or friends to come over for just an hour and hold him so I could shower. He refused anyone who tried to help…so much so that on the weekend we had my inlaws tried to visit, he screamed for 6 hours straight and was a fussy mess for the next four days.
I quickly learned that incorporating help was only going to make it harder for me in the long run. Getting a sitter so dad and I can spend time together for an hour was out of the question because I couldn’t handle the week long revenge.[He is still so alert. He has never fallen asleep in public as he has to pay attention. I still rock and nurse him to sleep at 21 months.]
At 10 months old he was getting up an average of 12 times a night. Now at 22 months old he averages 6 times a night. My immune system is shot. I have anxiety and I have no tolerance for stress. My house is a mess, my marriage is well past survival mode.
He can’t handle transitions; he is over-sensitive about everything. He refused to eat a thing until 16 month (more on that later) and the one time I forced him after I got chewed out by a pediatrician for starving him, he puked bananas five times and passed out and wouldn’t wake up (the one time in his life he has slept for 6 hours). I exclusively breastfeed (he never had 1 bottle) him until 16 months! That means when he was up 12 times a night, it was always me.
I was reading Dr. Sears and he was telling me to trust my gut so I did. I practiced attachment parenting and gentle parenting and did everything I could to avoid people and situations that would stress him out. I refused company even for short visits. I was and still am in survival mode. My in-laws hate me because of it. My hubby and I fight constantly because I “spoiled” him.
When he was 1 year of age we went to a naturopathic doctor who practiced applied kinesiology. He wasn’t eating and the ND told me he was sensitive to everything. I thought she was crazy. She treated him for his first treatment and he reacted with a 103 fever for 8 days. He cried the whole time.
When he came out of it, he started eating baby foods, just like that.
I didn’t believe it. We went back for another treatment and she did dairy, and overnight his cradle cap cleared and he started tolerating and reaching for dairy foods. Then we did vitamin C and he started eating citrus over night. I couldn’t believe it. We went through all the foods and he now eats amazing and his bowels are great. Praise the lord something worked!
She wanted to work on sleep and we tried the homeopathic stuff and melatonin and I realized he is wired backwards. When he has things that are supposed to calm him down, it makes him hyper. Like how we had to bounce him to sleep: Most people would be woken up by that but he is calmed down. He is just backwards. I gave him melatonin and he slept 3 hours and was up at 2 AM ready to roll. For my kid, calming agents are stimulants. I can’t have a TV in my house because if he watches 2 minutes of it, he is up all night.
Another piece of the puzzle: Joseph got thrush when he was 19 months. I treated him naturally with the help of our ND; we used a homeopathic aqua floral and probiotics. Something weird happened after we started to treat the thrush: he slept 5 hours. Then I read on the box of the meds that yeast can cause sleeplessness. We went back to our ND and she did her test and she said the reason he had thrush was because his body was not tolerating metals and we needed to cleanse that too. We did. Wow. What a difference. I think he had a low grade yeast infection this whole time.
He is still the most intense kid I have ever seen. He is so tuned into his surroundings and is so passionate about what he wants and what he doesn’t want. My ND asked me how I had so many patience with him, and I said honestly my pregnancy was a blessing. I lost all my selfishness because I couldn’t care about my wants as I was so sick.
When the baby came I was used to living my life for that kid. I never would have guessed in a million years that awful pregnancy would be a God-send. I have also come to look back at the last almost two years as a blessing. Our bond is so close. I have been the one there for him constantly as I was the only one he wanted, and now we are so connected. I look at other moms and kids and they exist in the same room and hardly interact with each other and I feel sorry for those moms who had “good” babies. They are missing one the most amazing connections.
I want more kids. My heart aches for a large family but I just can’t do it. It is hard. It is so hard.
I have no idea when it will get easier or if it ever will but if you are reading this, just know you are not the only one. I love this kid more than life itself and I am grateful for the person he has made me (less selfish and more compassionate) but it is still hard.
Heidi is a stay at home mom who is deep in the trenches of spirited toddlerville. In her past life she worked as a nutritionist and lactation consultant and taught at the university level. She doesn’t miss the corporate world (except the for 15 minutes bathroom breaks!) because she has the best gig on the planet.
Image courtesy of Pedro Klien under CC 2.0
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