"Exhausting babies go by various names: the fussy baby, the difficult baby, the colicky baby, and the demanding baby. As these babies grow older they acquire labels such as the "terrible twos," the hyperactive child, the strong-willed child... [The high need child is] a kinder term and it more appropriately expresses what these children are really like and the type of parenting they need....Wow. Somebody GETS my baby. And what our life is like. And why I have so little reserve.
You can spot these high need babies very early in infancy. These are the babies whose mothers just can't put them down. These are the babies who are inconsistently appeased; what works one day does not work the next. This is the child who continually challenges the ingenuity of the parents....
The high-need baby is intense, super-sensitive, often fussy and has prolonged periods of seemingly purposeless crying which interfere with sleep, feeding, and settling. He demands constant physical contact. He is often discontented and response inconsistently to the usual modes of comforting. He is a time-consuming, energy-draining baby who sometimes elicits negative feelings in his mother, puts a strain on his parents' marriage, and produces anxiety and fatigue in the whole family, including himself.
Studies have confirmed a correlation between infant temperament and sleep patterns. In these studies easy babies were defined as regular, adaptable, approachable, and positive in mood; difficult babies were irregular, low in adaptability and acceptance of an initial approach, intense, and negative. The researchers found that difficult babies slept about two hours less each night and one hour less during the day than the easy babies did.
- William Sears, M.D., Nighttime Parenting
Pete and I read this section the other night and choke-laughed all the way through. We don't have a child who will "just cry it out." We don't have a child who lets us take time and space for ourselves. We have the SMART child with the low sensitivity threshold.
Somehow, seeing it here helped to make it better. It gives me something to work with. A sense that SOMEONE has been here before, and that it is normal for us to be exhausted by Piper's high-need personality, and forgivable, even, that I am even more exhausted because of my health issues.
This last weekend, I took some time to reevaluate things a little bit, trying to figure out where I can make some changes to make things a bit easier. I'm still formulating, but it's coming a little more clear. Piper feels more insecure as we're going through the weaning right now, so she's been quite a bit more demanding than usual. Poor Pete has been up with her almost every night for the last few weeks.
We don't want her to sleep in our bed with us (it's the ONLY space we get away from her!), so we're looking for some options to get her to feel more secure as she is adjusting to the whole no-nursing thing.
I'm trying to make adjustments during the day, and if we get to her quickly at night, she settles within a few minutes. Simply understanding that she is *like* this helps me.
Pete bought me that little piece of inscribed pottery this weekend. I'm going to keep it handy. I need the reminder that I have to stop and breathe, that I can't get everything done all the time.
Piper is so affectionate, so sweet sometimes - she has such a depth of passion already, and I know when she grows up, she's going to be so smart and strong. Right now, it seems a hopeless thing, but we're learning, and every moment is a new moment to try again.
Sometimes, I think God is speaking to me about myself through watching Piper react to life, trying to show me that what I think is what I want isn't always best for me. It's an uncomfortable lesson, yet the patience He shows for me lengthens my patience with her, because I see her little heart breaking, even though it doesn't have to break. It will be hard for her to trust, I think.
So often, His goodness doesn't look good... Maybe that's why it's so important that we remember that He IS good. It's part of His identity. When we trust a person, it's important that we know who the person is. We're not prone to trust people so much anymore. It's hard to know what is true with all the lies and fake that surround us.
Realizing that Pip is a "high-need" child is also helpful purely for the phrasing of it. I am essentially a high-need child. I have so many needs that can't be met, not by my parents, not by my siblings, not by my friends, not by my husband. When I first met Pete, God told me He was bringing Pete into my life to help meet some of my needs, not to replace Him, but to be a good and perfect gift.
I am going to mess this up, but God gave Piper to me as a good and perfect gift too, and me to her as her mom. Somehow, I need to trust Him to meet the needs she has that I can't meet because of my own limitations. Who knows - perhaps because of my limitations, she will come to know and trust and find Him meeting at a younger age than her mother...