DEAR DR. SEARS! THANK YOU – WRITTEN BY THE MOTHER OF A HIGH NEED BABY
Date posted: January 7, 2012
Dear Dr. Sears,
I am writing this letter to you (and publishing it for the whole world to see) because you saved my relationship with my baby! When I was about 7 months pregnant with Adam – my first and only child – I bought The Baby Book: Everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age two. I read it all but I intentionally skipped all the parts about fussy babies, crying babies, unable to sleep babies, and similar topics. Reading your introduction about attachment parenting and then delving into the details of bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, and avoiding trainers made me realize that we were certainly on the same page! I was positive that with all the love I have to give Adam, he will certainly be the happiest and most content baby in the world!
Adam was born on April 18, 2011 and our birth experience was traumatic for both of us! My first sentiment towards him was resentment; I kept asking him why he did not work with me to have the birth we both wanted! Eventually we went home and the first few days passed quietly and happily then bam! Suddenly Adam would have high-pitch crying fits that would last from a couple of hours to a whole day only to be interrupted by exhaustion sleep. No matter what I did, he screamed! I held him, he arched his back! I hugged him, he pulled away! I tired to massage him – and do all the nice bonding things that I read about – he tensed his muscles and screamed louder. One thing worked though; I would carry him and go up and down the stairs until I was panting – literally panting. I interpreted his behavior as a clear sign that he did not like me! I would just sit there and cry next to him not knowing what I was doing wrong.
My mother and I would take turns carrying him but we both failed miserably. His fits usually started by 2 in the afternoon and ended by 7 or 8 at night. When he went to sleep, I heard a buzz in my ears from all the screaming. I dreaded the mornings and I wanted to fast forward the afternoons! Then I took out your book and I started reading it with a new pair of eyes. I put all my expectations aside and decided that I would not compare Adam – ever – to other kids or to the image I had of him before he was born – he is who he is and I love him just the way he is. You asked parents to look at things from the perspective of the baby; what did Adam see? I realized that he was having difficulty adapting! He took that trait after me! I could easily relate! One day he was cozy and comfortable in his own little bubble in my womb and suddenly he was forced outside of me (abdominal pushing) then pulled out (forceps). He was greeted earthside with pain, left in a glass box for 4 days, I got to breastfeed him after 4 days, and I held him skin to skin after 7 days! He was having difficulty adapting to the noises, scents, lights, and me!
I decided the send him back inside me – as much as I could! I dimmed the lights, turned off any source of noise including my cell phone, breastfed him as much as he wanted whenever he wanted, I was always next to him so he never had to cry for food or comfort, and I wore him in our wrap for hours and hours everyday. It took us about two more months to get rid of those frantic crying fits then we moved to another high need! He does not self soothe or play on his own. I learned how to take him with me to the bathroom, to the shower, to the kitchen, and anywhere I went – were were glued. The funny thing is that once I began listening to his needs and fulfilling them, I began having fun with him. I enjoyed how much he needed me and how my embrace meant the world to him. I got used to talking to him and explaining what I was doing. Then I turned into an animated woman .. I talk like the people in cartoon movies with facial expressions, tone, and movement.
Work, chores, and other pressing duties were tossed aside and rescheduled. I decided to take the slow lane for sometime and enjoy the journey. You wrote in your book that a high need baby with an attentive responsive mother was a combination that would bring out the best in both of them! This is exactly what happened! Adam is constantly teaching me how to mother him and I am loving the aspects of my new found personality! I am more fun and laid back! You were right again when you stressed that he is only a baby once and that eventually he would outgrow each phase. I wear him and take long walks everyday, we go shopping together, we sing along (babble along) in the car, and he laughs at my jokes and goofy faces! I bought a Blackberry phone and take advantage of his very brief naps to check my mail. When the weather is nice (which is almost daily in Egypt) we go outdoors. Thanks to the long walks, I am almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight. His sleeping got better at night now that he know that I am not going anywhere. He also appreciates my creativity and spares me the "bath fights", the "nail trimming fights", the "diaper changing fights", and the "it's time to eat fights". They are all games and fun times. I don't have to worry about pacifiers or bottles because he uses neither. He got over the fear of strangers and is now greeting everyone we pass by in our walks with smiles and laughter. His hyperactivity is helping me reinvent ways of entertaining him. I am still drained by happy. We are still working on his sense of urgency but getting there.
I want to thank you for warning me of baby trainers! I was tempted so many times to switch to formula milk or to introduce solids earlier than 6 months, or to let him cry it out, or to put him down when he wanted to be carried! Thank you for saving us both from this power struggle! Adam is manifesting the 12 signs of high need babies and I am loving the intensity of the upside of his personality. His love and passion is intense; he surprises me with little gestures that assure me that we are on the right track and that we are bonding well.