When my daughter was born I was confident that I was going to the greatest mom ever. Well that confidence flew right out of the window within the first few hours of her birth. Sam was nothing like the babies they showed in the Johnson and Johnson advertisements. Sleeping all day, cooing at you from the crib, feeding away to glory in the arms of their mothers.
Instead her deal was crying all day, all night and then some more. She would be a fussy baby all the time, would wake up at the slightest sound and raise hell. Nothing would pacify her-me, milk, rocking, lullabies, burping, changing the diaper,the works. She would feed for an hour and then just as I would put her down to relax my back she would scream bloody murder and I had to take her again.
I was drained, exhausted and was completely sure of my failure as a mother. I read every baby book I could lay my hands upon. That is when I chanced upon an article by Dr Sears on 12 features of a High Need Baby. I had never heard of the term “High Need Baby” but as I read the article, realization dawned upon me. Samaira was unique and yet she was no different from many other babies, only her baby needs were higher than them. This was different from the fussy baby syndrome. The things I could not explain to anyone were so clearly elucidated; the needs of a baby and how to deal with them. I felt there still was hope for me to find my footing in the mommy world.
My high needs baby is a high needs toddler now but the 12 features that make her different from many other babies are what I can count as my blessings now. So here is my positive spin on why my high need baby is a treasure for me:
INTENSE – Yes she is a handful, fidgety and constantly on the move but this also means that she is extremely determined. She will get what she wants whether the path is laden with rocks or toys.
HYPERACTIVE-Till date Sam has never taken blankets even if it is the coldest January ever. She is the busiest toddler I know of, always inventing games to play, exploring things and bullying the dog but she is the energy source of our house. She gets everyone in motion whether you like it or not.
DRAINING- Although the initial months made me crossover to the zombieland with endless nights of no sleep, they also forced me to think, be creative and develop ways so that I could be intuitive of my baby’s meltdowns and how to avoid them. I also developed systems that helped me manage my time better to cope with housework and the baby.
FEEDS FREQUENTLY- Because she fed frequently and there was no way I could put her on a schedule, I fed her “on demand”. But those initial months of marathon feeding sessions created a sense of comfort and security for her that at five months I was able to put her on a four-hour schedule and eventually I was able to wean her off to bottle without the slightest fuss.
DEMANDING- There was no way around her persistent and loud demands (read crying) whether it was for milk, for changing her diaper or just because she was bored. From a demanding personality she has now channeled her energies to being a commanding one. She shows all traits of being a born leader
AWAKENS FREQUENTLY- As she slept for short stretches I had to develop a pattern of naps for her which would be relaxing for both of us. Slowly but steadily we reached a 1 nap a day system which gives me enough me time to do things that I want to do like writing this blog.
UNSATISFIED- There were some days when whatever I may do she just wasn’t happy, there still are. But this has taught me to let go of the “Mommy guilt”. I try to do my best and leave the rest to god and my baby.
UNPREDICTABLE- One moment she is there, the next she is gone. There is no telling what Sam would do in the next moment. You may think she is right besides you playing quietly but she would have climbed all the way up to the roof in a matter of seconds. Her unpredictability has sharpened my senses to the highest level. Anticipating her next move has become my second nature.
SENSITIVE- It is still difficult to take Samaira’s temperature or get medicine into her because she is extremely sensitive to any stimuli. Her teething was a difficult period for all of us. But Sam was and still is also exceptionally perceptive to her environment and the people in it. She could sense love, hostility, anger, despair even as a small baby and react to it. She is a curious child with empathy for everyone. Just tell her that you are not feeling well and she will ply you with endless healing kisses and hugs.
CAN’T PUT BABY DOWN-Although she was never an over cuddly baby, she loved being bounced on the lap, being rocked and put in a swing. This constant physical movement gave me reservoirs of energy I never thought I had.
NOT A SELF SOOTHER- As a baby Sam found it very difficult to play by herself, she still does. She constantly prefers having people around her to entertain her. She will not play kitchen unless you are ready to wash the utensils with her, she will not color until you would too. Thanks to her I am rediscovering my childhood, playing games with her, making play dough figures, taking care of dolls and singing rhymes on top of my voice.
SEPARATION SENSITIVE- This is probably the only criteria that Samaira outgrew of very quickly. She is comfortable with everybody and I was actually able to leave her overnight with my parents when she was about a year old.
So although I still may not be the greatest mom ever but I am trying to be the best mom I could be for my little princess. I am sure that counts for something.
If you think your baby or toddler is also a high need child do not despair as there are endless resources to aid parent and baby to find strategies that will work for you. I am giving a few links below to help you :