My Son has a Death Wish

First of all, welcome to the new blog layout. I hope you like it.

Second of all,

Holy Crap My Son is Making Me Crazy!!

Tommy is an extremely wiggly baby. And when I say wiggly I mean, he is constantly going. He can't quite crawl yet (though I predict he will by the end of the week- no joke!) but he just goes, and goes, and goes. 

They call it "Hyperactive" or "High Need." Anyone else have a hyperactive baby? This website has some good information about it- finally I feel like there must be other people out there dealing with this, and I'm not totally alone. 

Some parts that describe us fairly well: 
The cry of a high need baby is not a mere request, it's an urgent demand. These babies put more energy into everything they do. They cry loudly, feed voraciously, laugh with gusto, and protest more forcefully if their needs are not met to their satisfaction. Because they feel so deeply, they react more powerfully if their feelings are disturbed. "If I don't feed him as soon as he fusses, he falls apart" is a common statement from the mother of such a baby. 
Tommy doesn't cry the way you normally think of a baby crying. When he wants something, he literally yells at us. In this obnoxious-but-sometimes-adorable-and-hilarious little baby language until we meet the need. It often makes us laugh. But if we don't do it quickly enough and he does cry? Read on.
After a while, I found myself going into over-drive instantly whenever she cried, because I knew if it got out of control she'd quickly disintegrate and it would take her a long time to come back around. I became obsessive in trying to prevent her from getting upset in any way because there was hell to pay if she did.
This is us, 100%. When Tommy wakes up only 20 minutes into his nap, we try to get to him with a pacifier before he wakes up enough to cry. Otherwise that nap was completely worthless, because we'll spend the next hour trying to calm him/get him to sleep. And then the rest of the day is messed up, and I am not a happy mommy.

About 3 months. "Yelling."
Also, cry-it-out does not work for Tommy. I've tried it. No matter how long you let him "cry it out," he will not. settle. down. Period. My mom even flew out here a few weeks ago to grant me some sanity and sleep by dealing with Tommy during the night, and one day while Nate and I were out, she tried CIO. When we got home, even she agreed that it doesn't work with him. And she's the Baby Whisperer.
"Why do high need babies need more of everything but sleep?" groaned a tired mother. You would think that high need babies would need more sleep; certainly their tired parents do.
This might be our biggest problem. I don't know what the deal is, but hyperactive babies, as tired as you would expect them to be, SUCK at sleeping. Tommy literally CANNOT make himself relax. No matter how tired he gets. And once he does fall asleep, he wakes up. During the day its after very short periods- 30 or 40 minutes, sometimes resulting in a total daily naptime of about 2-3 hours. At this age he "should be" getting about 4. I wish. And during the night, he wakes up over and over because he moves all over the place. Hyperactive babies are restless. I have to go in multiple times a night to give him his pacifier so he'll go back to sleep. Therefore I may be in bed for 7 hours, but with all the interruptions its sometimes like being awake all night.

And this: HI Mom!! I only slept for 5 minutes but I feel SO Refreshed!
Swaddling doesn't help, because he can get out of all of them. Even the velcro ones, even the uber-velcro ones. We have to do a blanket swaddle to get him to sleep, because if his hands are out he rubs his face over and over, takes out his pacifier, and just keeps himself awake. Then he gets his arms out in his sleep and proceeds to roll around. And I've tried many times to get him to sleep unswaddled, and it probably only worked twice. When he was ridiculously exhausted. And I'm pretty sure I was too. AND he didn't stay asleep for long.

Isn't this thing supposed to keep me restrained?
(Still reading?)
When Tommy was younger, we could rock him almost to sleep, and put him in his crib while he was still slightly awake, and he would go to sleep the rest of the way on his own. It was great. Sometimes it took a long time to get to that point, but things were relatively good. Tommy was learning to go to bed without needing us to get him all the way out.

Then about 4 weeks ago, Tommy started flipping out if we tried to put him down while he was still slightly awake (another High Needs Baby tendency: separation sensitivity). He would burst into tears and we would have to start all over with a baby that was practically inconsolable. His crying felt like he was having his heart broken- Mommy is leaving me all alone in this bed and I'm never going to see her again ever! I felt like I was breaking his trust. I quickly gave up this ridiculous game because I couldn't take it anymore, and went ahead and rocked him all the way to sleep. In a rocking chair, in my lap, in a blanket-swaddle, with soothing music playing on my phone. And there I sit, replacing his pacifier over and over while he cries, until he finally falls asleep, and then after about ten minutes (for fear of him not being asleep enough and freaking out all over again) I go put him in his crib.

The only way he will fall asleep. After much fussing.
And this, friends, is where I am still stuck. Thank goodness my parents got me an iPhone, so I can at least entertain myself for the crazy amount of time I spend in that chair (and thank goodness its a cushy couch rocker thing and not hard wood!).

But this too, is starting to fall apart. It's starting not to work. Naptime and bedtime are getting harder again, and I'm running out of ideas. The last two nights in a row, we haven't been able to get him to sleep till about 10:30! He used to be asleep by 8 or 8:30, which was so nice, but now he pretty much just fights us that whole time. (Even leaving him alone doesn't work- like I said, he can't self-soothe). The worst part is that its obvious that he's super tired, but for whatever reason he can't/wont sleep.

And SOME days (I'm almost done, I promise), I feel nothing but compassion for him. Oh, poor baby, what's wrong? Why wont you sleep?

Other days I have to leave the room and close the door so I wont hurt him! Sounds awful, doesn't it? You're probably not a mom.

And those days (yesterday) are the ones that I have a complete meltdown. I've yelled at him before- told him to shut up and go to sleep already! (He's only 5 months old!) And then I just completely fall apart and sob, because I know he's an innocent little baby and he can't help it. And I feel like an awful mother, and wonder how God could have entrusted me with such a sweet little baby when I have so many, many flaws.

I love my son. He is the biggest blessing in my life. But some days he is also the biggest frustration, and  sometimes I don't know how to handle it.

On a lighter note! We took Tommy swimming for the first time today, and although he wasn't too thrilled at first, he quickly cheered up and giggled whenever I popped out from underwater and surprised him. I'll post pics of that tomorrow.

I love this little stinker. With all of my heart. Even though some days I'm not sure he's going to see his first birthday, I would never go back to life without him. All of the frustration is worth it, even though sometimes that's hard to remember.


Cait said...

Oh Bethie! I'm sorry Tommy is a high-energy crazy baby. HOpefully he'll grow out of this stage and you can find a way to get some balance back into your lives. The first year I feel is always hard when they just demand so much. sheesh. Good thing he's cute!

Cait said...

PS -I think Carmen was a hyper-active baby. She wiggled so much in her sleep she woke up constantly and I was always tired. I was in zombie mode for the first nine months of her life until she FINALLy started sleeping through the night.

Stephen, April, Stephen, and Joe said...

You aren't horrible. Or if you are, I am too!! I yelled at my poor little newborn too, and sobbed uncontrollably when they woke up or just would not sleep. It will get better, I promise! You are not alone!

Symantha said...

Well I'm not even a mother yet and all of it made perfect sense to me! I appreciated the honesty. I hope for both your sakes he moves on to his next stage fast!

Alison said...

I don't know if it would help or not, but there is a product called the Woombie that swaddles babies using a zipper. (The top is covered with a velcroed-over tab so it doesn't scratch them.) If you're having trouble keeping him swaddled and think being swaddled would help him, I'd suggest giving it a shot. It'd at least be a swaddle that he couldn't pull off. I'm sorry it's been tough!

Beth said...

Thanks everyone! Alison, that thing is so smart! Last night was fairly successful un-swaddled, so hopefully he keeps getting more used to it. (Also, now that he can roll over he has to be able to use his arms anyway to reduce the risk of SIDS). But I'm definitely trying those with our next baby!

MeganandClaudy said...

Two thoughts: Carter had to learn how to be unswaddled little by little. So, at first we did just one arm, then one leg, then two arms...etc. Kinda like weaning, perhaps that would help him transition? Also, Carter will sit and scratch himself when he's tired, which in turn wakes him up and upsets himself. We've had to put gloves on him. Then when he learned to take those off, but socks on him and then when he took those off, extra long shirts with hair ties on them. Maybe that would help? Either way--I hope you can find something that works. That sounds really tough. Don't be hard on yourself. Hang in there. Before you know it, he will be a teenager that you can't get to wake up :) When you do find a solution, will you blog about it? I can see myself having a child like this, and it would be good to know tips for the future.