Mr B3 has his first cold. Not bad for almost 10 months old. This is coinciding with the cutting of his first tooth. So it's difficult currently to determine how much of his whinging is illness related and how much is just B3 being him. He has taken to waking and screaming through the night. And we tend to respond in various ways, which I acknowledge is confusing for all concerned but nothing is straightforward with a high needs kid.
When B3 was smaller (up to 8 months) I was vehemently against Cry It Out methods, or Sleep Training. Mainly because I knew these techniques would not work for B3, and also because I was concerned about the potential trauma for both him, and the rest of the family. But by 8 months I was so fed up having to bounce him to sleep, all day and night, I decided to try it. Granted it was successful in teaching him to 'self settle' which means go to sleep without my help. But as predicted it hasn't had much impact on teaching him to sleep through. Apparently it is typical of children with 'difficult' temperaments to not sleep well. And so it is.
I bought some earplugs yesterday to drown out the sound of his cries when my temper got to it's end point and I just needed to sleep, but I could still hear his muffled screams even with the ear plugs and pillow over my head so gave in after an hour and rocked him to slumber.
B3 is one of those babies that get 'stuck' in cry mode and don't know how to stop without assistance. We worked this out very early in his short life which is why a sling was quickly enlisted. He spent his first 8 months more or less in that sling. It was a sanity saving device, and I highly recommend them to anyone who has a new fussy baby. Anyway his capacity to self soothe is non existant, despite sucking on a dummy. This is normal I suppose but with such a fussy bub, it is endlessly tiring, and has led to an internal anxiety response every time he starts to fuss and whine. Such is the case that I was diagnosed with Post Natal Anxiety (PNA) when he was about 6 months old. Any mum who jumps a mile at the sound of a spoon being dropped on the kitchen floor knows what I'm on about here. It's as if your fight or flight response gets switched on, and doesnt switch off again, you are in a constant state of hyper alertness and the old adrenals get burnt out sooner or later. This is not a pleasant state to be in when you are keen to be a soothing influence on your unhappy baby. Frazzled is condition that became common place, as my husband would readily testify. He bore the brunt, and still does, of my stress. (I'll get to relationships in a later blog).
Once the diagnosis of PNA was made I was referred to a psychologist. Apparently this is a common post birth disorder (like PND but not as well known) and consequently the government funds 12 sessions of therapy to help develop coping strategies. So to all mums out there who are struggling, get along to your GP and tell them whats going on. There is free help available.
Having said that I 'lied' each time I undertook those post natal questionnaires that the community midwives get you to take whenever you take your baby for their check ups. I couldn't bare the idea of admitting how I was really feeling. So how was I really feeling?? Hopeless, overwhelmed, depressed, trapped, angry, guilty, regretful. I have to say there were very few monents of joy and celebration at this precious new arrival. Just an awful shock at this impossibly difficult child.
There were several trips to the shops after hubby came home where I had to talk myself out of driving off into the sunset. I would have this internal dialogue that would be saying, "you know you could just keep driving, and not go back". But of course I went back. Then as I would pull into the driveway, with engine still on and music blaring, I could hear him crying. Even if he wasn't. Both hubby and I still think we hear him at night cry out, and then on checking realise it's just the echoes of cries gone by, and at least for now, he is quiet and asleep. Aaahhh sleep, what I would give for one night of quality, unbroken sleep.