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Monday, August 17, 2009

Raising Harri

Moving back in time to the days when B3 was only weeks in age I wondered when it was we started to get an inkling that this kid was going to be hard work. I acknowledge that almost all newborn babies are hard work, needing frequent feeds so waking through the night, creating lots of washing and so on. But some kids take difficult to a new level. So what does that look like?

I have gone back over my diary entries from the first few months and note that by 9 days of age he was restless up to 2.30am. It was as if the day got him so wound up that he couldn't wind down again. He rarely slept longer than about 20m minutes at a time during the day. Perhaps due to overstimulation or the reflux, or wind? We tried many different strategies to help him sleep, and settle better in the evenings but nothing was very effective. The sling was the most successful tool.

BY 3 weeks he could go hours without sleep during the day. This was exhausting for all concerned, and when he did sleep it was when he was being rocked. Putting him down led to waking. BY 4 weeks he continued to struggle to sleep well, and added crying to his repetoire. Afternoons were miserable for all of us, as Harri whinged and cried inconsolably until finally falling alseep in sling while hubby walked around the block with him. By this stage I was admitting to myself that we had a 'difficult' baby. I hadn't washed my hair in 2 weeks, going to the toilet was luxury time, and my back and neck ached from having to carry him all day. BY 5 weeks we offered him a dummy in the hope it would provide some comfort, it did seem to do this, though had very little impact on his behaviours. Tried Bauer Colic Relief, which he despised and increased his crying when offered. Tried all sorts of wind and colic remedies, none had any impact. Took him to a Pediatric chiropractor, he was perfectly alligned. Took him to Drs, they found nothing of concern.

By 5 weeks I resigned myself to the fact he was a cry baby and there were going to be times he would just have to cry, such as when the washing needed to be hung out. Giving myself permission to leave him despite his protests was liberating.

At 6 weeks I discovered Dr Sears and his book about 'fussy babies'. This was a relief, although it didn't really describe B3 specifically, there were a lot of traits discussed that I could relate to and I found enormous comfort in knowing that his behaviours, though unpleasant, were not entirely unknown, and that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I really needed to know about the light, as I was beginning to descend into a dark space by now. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. B3 was so difficult to manage that we couldn't leave him with anyone else and get out. It was a relentless and often agonizing process to manage him and his unsettled behaviour.

I should add here that B3 hated both the car and pram, so getting out of the house, which I needed to do for sanitys sake, was never easy. How I longed to be able to put him in the pram and stroll to the shops scream free. But my arms were where he wanted to be and no substitute would do. I have to admit by this stage I was wondering why having another baby had seemed like a good idea, because no one was having much fun. Days merged into each other, and I lived in a constant haze of stress and frustration and exhaustion. This wasn't your normal baby who was a bit restless in the evenings. This was a kid who had been born with a premature nervous system and was freaking out at the big world he had recently been thrust into. And now mummy was freaking out too because the level of comfort he required was enormous and seemingly never ending.

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