It was a heartbreaking time when all I wanted was to get pregnant and I just couldn’t. Finally, though, we conceived. My husband and I were thrilled. At last, we would be having a baby!
I borrowed my sister’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting, reading ahead because I was too excited to wait until I reached that stage in the pregnancy.
Each appointment with my obstetrician, no matter how brief, made me giddy. I pressed my hands on my abdomen, searching for that firm little mound that was my baby. I waited anxiously for the first kick.
As the months passed the backaches were difficult, the near-constant need to pee annoying, and the lack of sleep tiring, but I couldn’t wait to meet my little girl. And then one day, it happened. She was born. She had lots of black hair! She had her father’s nose! She was here!
She was here.
I remember thinking to myself, ‘No one told me it was going to be like this!’ This wasn’t in all the books.
The worst part was, for the longest time I thought what we were going through was typical and that any difficulties we were having were more a sign of my inexperience than because it wasn’t typical. But I soon came to realize, after swapping stories with other moms, that our daughter was not a typical baby.
She rarely slept.
She nursed all the time.
And she cried. And cried. All. The. Time.
Even my mother, who I consider to be a baby guru, was taken aback that she could not calm this baby.
When our daughter was 5 months old my husband and I escaped to a friend’s wedding for the evening. It was our first night out. Everyone kept asking if I missed her, and I didn’t understand why they kept asking this. When we came back to pick her up, my mom said she cried for 4 hours straight until she finally fell asleep. I felt bad that my mom dealt with a screaming baby for so long, but also privately relieved I had enjoyed a quiet night out and that my mom hadn’t called us to come home.
As she got older, things got a little bit better. With each step of independence, she was a little easier to deal with. A little. She was still the fussiest baby I knew.
Play group was often stressful and embarrassing. One occasion had the facilitator asking if she had hurt herself since she was crying so hard. Play dates would inevitably wind up with her whining and crying—non-stop – and we would have to leave.
And I swear she is the reason my sister decided 2 kids was more than enough, thank you very much. Babysitting was asking a lot.
Our daughter is now 22 months old. When hubby comes home and asks how the day went, mostly I say, “The usual” — which means some perfectly good moments and some perfectly horrendous moments.
She is sensitive. Easily overwhelmed. Prone to temper tantrums and frustration.
She is also wildly affectionate and cautious. But now we know. She is not like most other kids her age. She requires slightly different parenting, different expectations. We don’t put her in situations we know will bring out the worst in her unless we absolutely have to.
The most important thing I’ve learned is to accept her for her. In the beginning my husband and I would ask each other how we, the two most laid back people on the planet, ended up with such a high maintenance, spirited kid. Now I realize the futility of such a question and that the days go by much more pleasantly when we embrace her for the person she is.
And I think as parents of a high need kid, we appreciate the sweeter moments all the more.
By Melissa Wiebe
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