About two weeks before giving birth to my son, I read an article inBaby Talk magazine called "Handling the High Need Baby." It chronicled one family with four kids, the last of which was "high needs," and quite unlike the three children proceeding her. I remember the author speaking about how his little girl needed a lot of holding and touching, and without these things, she was very fussy. At the time I thought "gee, that sounds really difficult." Little did I know that in a few short weeks I would be welcoming my own special little high needs baby! It is actually quite remarkable how the universe works. Had I not read that article, maybe my ability to mother my child would have been different. I've always been a children person, and in fact thought of myself as quite good with kids, but I wasn't entirely prepared for a baby who literally needed to be held ALL the time. Thankfully, the most important advice I was able to remember from the Baby Talk article was that as parents, we shouldn't think of our children as difficult, demanding, or unusually cranky. Instead, we should accept them for who they are, and enjoy them as such. The bottom line: a little positive thinking goes a long way!
From the day he was born, my son Miles demanded constant contact. However, instead of fighting it and feeling frustrated, I embraced it. Miles spent a large portion of his first three months strapped to me in his baby carrier. The upside to this? I was able to enjoy my beautiful city of San Francisco by taking long walks along the Embarcadero, walking to parks, or shopping around Union Square, all with my precious new son along for the ride. As long as Miles was in his carrier, he was happy. Some days I even did house work with Miles strapped to me! Another benefit of all the holding and walking was that I dropped most of my baby weight quickly. Also, having a high needs baby means that I get lots of cuddle time. I am convinced that my son is best cuddler in the world! The way he burrows his little face into my neck never fails to melt my heart. One final bonus that makes it all worthwhile: according to Baby Talk, high needs babies often grow up to be very social, sensitive, and creative people!
I'm not trying to sugar coat this scenario as all sugar and spice. Obviously it is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. However, going with the flow is a lot more enjoyable for both you and your baby.
These are a few of my coping mechanisms:
1. Walk! There's nothing worse than sitting in your house, feeling isolated, and holding a crying baby all day. Throw on the carrier, get a cup of tea to go, and get out of the house!! 2. Ergo Baby Carrier. This carrier saved my back and my sanity. Although I love my Baby Bjorn, it not the ideal carrier if you have to literally wear your baby all day. The Ergo carrier provides much more support to your shoulders and lower back. 3. Keep Hope Alive. Just because your baby doesn't like something at one week old, doesn't mean he won't like it at one month old. Initially, Miles hated the bouncer, stroller, and his play mat. However I exposed him to these every day for just a few minutes and now he can play in them anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. 4. Let Him Cry. If your baby is otherwise healthy, a few minutes of crying won't hurt him. Sometimes you just have to put the baby down to get things done (shower, dinner, laundry, a little relief for your aching arms and back). 5. Be a Bad Mommy. There're are moments as a mom where you may need to go into survival mode and do something you swore you wouldn't do for fear of spoiling your child's perfect mind. Sometimes I let Miles watch tv, if only just for a few minutes. It at least gives me a little mental and physically break. I figure educational shows like Little Einsteins couldn't be THAT bad. Tired of all that mind stimulating classical music? Throw on some Jayz and dance around the house with your little one. Miles always gets a kick out of our hip hop dance sessions. Whatever it is you need to do for a little reprieve, do it! Being a bitter and frazzled mommy certainly isn't better than a few minutes of Disney cartoons is it?