I try very hard not to write something that I wouldn’t want my children to read as they get older so, Biscuit, if you ever read this, it wasn’t you. It was me. I thought it was you and I blamed you for how I was feeling for a long time. But it was me all along. You had needs that I couldn’t understand. I had needs that you didnt understand. It was a messy situation and I’m so glad we loved each other through it because, seriously, you rock!
My third boy is the sweetest and most content baby I could ever imagine. He sleeps on a fantastic schedule (that he put himself on) and I can even lay him down when he sleeps. He is perfectly content to stay with my husband so I can get groceries or the mail or have a bath. My closest friend says he is just a normal baby but, after two higher need babies, he’s a dream. When he cries, which is rarely, I still sometimes feel my heart rate and stress level and have even called him his older brother’s name. And I then I pray that I’m not wrong about him and that the crying won’t escalate and that I can handle his crying. He’s 11 months old and I still need to give myself pep talks with him “He’s not his brother, he’s a happy baby, this is temporary. He will not cry forever.”
I sometimes feel robbed. I didn’t get to enjoy my second baby. He was (and still is) a high need child and, in the midst of a back injury and post partum depression, I mostly just remember a lot of tears from our first year together. His tears and mine. There was a lot of stress passed back and forth between us and it was a hard year. Or maybe two. I can’t really remember when the fog started to lift.
There are not a lot of things in my life that I would like a do-over with but that time is one of them. What would I have done differently?
1. I wouldn’t have moved couches at 4 months post partum. That alone would have saved me tremendous physical pain. Relaxin can do some strange things and it wasn’t worth pushing myself (or those couches). My tip for you: Rest a lot and focus on simply meeting your baby’s needs. You really don’t have to do anything but mother.
2. I would have started treating for PPD sooner. I didn’t realize that I had postpartum depression until he was about 5 months old. I got my placenta encapsulated at that point (I had frozen it after the birth) and, between that, vitamin D, St John’s Wort, and a few other things, I finally started taking care of my health. My tip for you: If you aren’t enjoying your baby, talk to someone. Get some help. It isn’t normal for every day to be a bad day. Get emotional support and make some changes to improve your physical health.
3. I would have explained more clearly to my husband what I was going through. He didn’t know. All he know was that he wouldn’t know what kind of state he would find me in when he came home from work. That wasn’t fair to him. It also caused him to pull away from the family when we needed him most. I blamed him. But it wasn’t him; it was me. My tip for you: Tell your spouse that you aren’t okay and that it isn’t his fault but that you need his strength.
4. I would not have started a business. I had the opportunity to start a great business that started taking off more than I anticipated but it was not a good time in my life. On the one hand, it kept my mind off the negative things but, on the other hand, it was another thing on my already full plate and added a lot of extra stress. My tip for you: Say “no” more often. The time to say “yes” will come again but it isn’t right now. You have bigger fish to fry.
5. I would have let someone else hold him. Yes, he would have cried the entire time I was gone but he would have been in loving arms. A dear friend offered to put him in her sling so I could do groceries alone. I should have taken her up on it. My tip for you: Tell a loved one that you need help and that your baby may cry the entire time but trust that loving arms can overcome all.
High need babies are a whole different experience than non-high need babies. It’s hard on the whole family but you can, and will, survive. If you have a high need baby, my heart goes out to you and I want to let you know that it does get easier. Some high need children grow out of it while others are blessed with a strong will and unbelievable intensity for their whole lives. Remind yourself often of how valuable those qualities are in an adult. Your child is going places, all because you are willing to love him through the worst of it.
If you have a tip to share, we would love to hear it!