I sent Tim an email with that as the subject last week, after writing down our schedule of events for our visit to Atlanta.
Every day had a new adventure. Every new adventure came a twinge of anxiety over how Kellan would react.
I am not sure if I’ve actually said this on my blog before or not (the brain still ceases to fully function on all cylinders), but we are about 99.99% sure that Kellan is a high needs baby.
It sounds daunting…and it is, truthfully, if you end your ten months of pregnancy expecting your child will sleep and entertain themselves and handle sitting in a car seat for an extended period of time.
None of these traits describe Kellan.
He wants…needs to sleep right against me. He even reaches out his hand to touch me while he is asleep, just to make sure I’m still there. If I’m not?
He wakes up and cries until I come back and settle in with him.
There is no “crying it out” or self soothing or figuring out how to go back to sleep on his own. If you try to just sit there with him and pat him/coax him to sleep, it results in lots of crying that just escalates until he is either picked up and rocked or bounced or given a boob.
My mom kind of learned this when she tried to sit with him to put him down for a nap while he cried…and cried…and cried…until he finally fell asleep. She came out of the bedroom, wiped her hands and said, “that’s how it’s done.”
I looked at her all, “don’t count your chickens.”
Sure enough, two minutes later he woke up screaming.
She went back in again to try and get him to go to sleep with the sitting by him but not holding him technique, but after awhile my mommy-self couldn’t handle hearing him cry any longer (and this went on for at least 45 minutes, so I *did* try) and I went in saying just that, immediately laying down with him to give him what he needed – comfort and soothing.
She was all, “he needs to learn how to soothe himself.”
I agree. He does. But it’s going to take more time for him to figure that out. He isn’t one of those fuss for a few minutes and then nod off types.
He’s a “my cry will continue to escalate until you help me or I’ll eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion because I’ve given up on you comforting me.”
I’m absolutely not going to have him think that. I’m not going to just – in his brain – abandon him and leave him to try and cope with zero skills to that effect. I read somewhere that when you leave high needs babies/babies who are not the type who just need a few minutes to wind down before they fall asleep to figure it out on their own, the reason they eventually stop crying is because they give up and shut down, a natural defensive mechanism.
They lose trust in you and the expectation that you will come and help them.
That is not happening in this house. Ever.
I know he needs help and extra comfort and touch and closeness. My mommy instincts tell me that leaving him to cry isn’t right. Whenever I have he looks up at me like, “Why aren’t you helping me? Why are you leaving me here? I need you.”
Sleep isn’t worth depriving him of things he needs. His demands are higher than a mellow baby. His timeline to independence and sleeping alone is longer.
I’m one million percent ok with that.
I’ve accepted that he isn’t “the norm” and the typical advice doesn’t apply to him. He doesn’t follow a pattern and he always keeps me guessing.
It keeps me on my toes and definitely keeps life interesting.
But he is SO in tune to the world around him. He is sensitive to changes and interested in EVERYTHING. Well, everything that isn’t a baby toy. He’d rather have the real thing.
Just this morning we went on a walk and Kellan decided that he had no interest in being IN his stroller. He wanted to see everything we were seeing. So, we took him out and the second we did the crying stopped. He started kicking his legs and waving his arms and making noises of pure joy as if to say, “YES! This is exactly what I wanted!!”
We walked up to trees and he marveled at the leaves, grabbing them and staring at them and kicking his legs when the water on the leaves fell onto his legs.
He whipped his head around when an old VW Bug drove by and followed a bird as it flew in front of us. We bent down and watched and listened to water from the night’s rain flow into the storm water drain.
We got to share of these amazing experiences with Kellan on a simple walk…a mellow baby probably would have been content in the stroller the whole time.
That’s the difference between high needs and an “easy” baby.
Honestly, even though he requires a LOT of *extra* work and zero downtime for Tim and me, I’m so glad he’s the former.
Look how much he loves and lives every minute of life. His temperament makes us stop and pay attention to the world around us and come up with creative ideas to keep him entertained.
All of the things you take for granted become mainstays in your life with a high needs baby.
And when I say all of the things, I mean
ALL OF THE THINGS.
(more on the trip later…but for now, look! We finished! Peachtree Road Race run for the 7th consecutive year together in the books!)