Having a high-needs baby affects pretty much every aspect of my life, but I don’t really think about it until I encounter a “normal” baby. Like today.
I took my older daughter to her gymnastics class this morning. One of the other moms there had a baby with her. For the majority of the time, this mom was watching the children hop/climb/roll around or reminding her older child to listen to instructions. All the while, her baby just sat there perfectly happy in her car sat. Just chewing on a toy, babbling and remaining otherwise content.
I stared at this sweet baby in bewilderment and with envious curiosity. Because there’s no way in hell my 9-month-old would be cool with sitting there for 45 minutes while I was focused on her sister — especially while strapped into a car seat and without my holding/touching/talking to her constantly.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my spirited baby, dearly. But it’s hard sometimes. If life with your infant seems like one giant struggle, then you might be right there with me. Here are 7 (unscientific) signs you might have a high-needs baby:
1) Naps? What naps?
You mean other actually babies nap? Like, everyday? Nonsense! My baby will fall asleep on the boob, sleep in her crib for a solid 5-minutes and then stand up and start wailing for me.
2) Separation anxiety is a beast.
I’m a SAHM, but even when I drop her off at the babysitting room at our fitness center for an hour, she’ll burst into tears if she sees me walk away. This is why I try to make sure she’s distracted first and then make a RUN for it. She does the same thing sometimes, if I hand her to daddy and walk into another room. C’mon, kid!
3) Car rides are … “fun.”
To be honest, Baby A has gotten a lot better about this one lately, except when she’s overly tired. But if the car ride is too long — say an hour trip to visit my mom, for example — it’s hell. She’ll be OK for a little while, but then she wants OUT, like, now. She has worked herself up so much, that she’s vomited in my van a few times. Which is awesome to clean up, for the record.
4) Independent sleeping is but a dream.
Any and all “napping” is done ON me. And at night time, we’ve gotten into this nasty habit of breast-sleeping. (Out of pure desperation, I’ve even tried this.) Not ideal. Not particularly restful. But it’s our reality.
5) Just setting down your baby can feel impossible.
My youngest is a little koala baby — she’s the happiest when she’s on my hip, grabbing onto my shirt for stability and along for the ride. Sometimes, she’ll happily play on the floor or crawl around
trying to maim herself exploring. But mostly, she whines and crawls back to me to resume her rightful place. Sigh.
6) Dad/other members of the family just don’t cut it.
Daddy is acceptable for 20 minutes or so. However, if she sees or hears me, it’s over. She’s instantly fussing and whining, “Mum-mum-maaaaa!” and desperately trying to get to me. Don’t even get me started on grandparents. All they want to do is hold their sweet grand baby for one minute without that pathetic, puckered bottom lip and tears. But alas, this girl wants no part of it.
7) Everything seems like a struggle.
With a little one who needs nearly constant physical contact — plus two older kids vying for my attention — I’m all touched out (and then some) by the time my husband gets home from work in the evenings. My poor baby is grumpy on the commute to and from school. She bursts into tears when I leave her for less than an hour each day to work out. She refuses to nap during the day, plus I get crappy sleep at night because she hates her crib. Is everything supposed to feel this hard?
The “advantage” I have in this situation is she’s my third child; so I know these impossible days won’t last forever. My now 5-year-old son — who was also extremely high-maintenance as a baby — eventually grew out of hating everyone but me. But those first 12 to 15 months were rough, for sure. Now, he loves hanging out with dad and has sleepovers with grandma and grandpa. Although he is past the napping stage at this point, Z sleeps in his own bed all by himself all night long. He’s totally fine with car rides. I don’t carry him everywhere.
My point here is that it does get better, mamas. Hang in there. It’s so hard. But you’re doing great. And although it may feel like it, you’re definitely not alone.
This post was originally published in January, 2017