"Problem Child" or the Perfect Child?

I have wanted to write this post for a long time. This has been bottled up for 4 months so here we go....

"You're feeding him too often."
"His cloth diaper is bothering him."

"He sleeps too much/little."
"Why can't he just follow YOUR schedule."

"Just let him cry."
"Just come over and you can put him to sleep in the other room."

"Let's go eat dinner. The noise usually puts babies to sleep."
"Just let him cry."

"His teething necklace is bothering him."

I haven't written much about it because I did not want to seem ungrateful, but the first 3 months of our son's life were VERY difficult. VERY. DIFFICULT. I have taken care of babies my entire life, so I never thought I would have a problem. I thought "colic" was just a fussy baby and there was usually a reason why babies cried and that it could be fixed. I. Was. Wrong. For 3 months I did not leave the house, our living room was a perpetual womb environment, Asher screamed every night for hours straight, we went to countless different doctors to "figure out what was wrong", we tried every kind of colic ease/calm/relief tincture and gadget out there, and I literally had an emotional breakdown every day. I couldn't stand to watch my baby scream red-faced until exhaustion took over. We were so thankful to have great support both from family and friends, as well as chiropractic adjustments that really made a difference and helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through and I only did by the grace of God.

One of the most difficult parts was that some people just did not understand. If you have never had a "high-needs" baby, you will NEVER know how unbelievably stressful it is. We would constantly get comments like the ones above; if you would just do THIS, why don't you just try THIS. It was as if they thought I was trying to make things difficult, as if I didn't want things to be easy. If you are a mom you can relate to this: When someone makes comments about your baby and/or their behavior/habits, it is as if they are directly criticizing your parenting and motherly instincts. So to be frank, I have never felt so criticized and inadequate.

One bright morning (Easter morning actually), Asher woke up a new baby. No more nightly freak outs due to over-stimulation, life as we knew it changed dramatically! He has blossomed into the happiest and sweetest baby boy in the world. According to some, we still have "problems"....but do we?

One regret I have in parenting is that I read too much. I do think it is SO important to be educated, but there is also a point where you just need to trust in God that He will provide you with the proper instincts for your specific child. I also think that in my crazy hormonal postpartum haze, the devil took that knowledge and ran with it. For instance, I read that when your baby cries, the cortisol levels in his brain spike and cause developmental issues and the inability to handle stress later in life. While this is likely true if he is left alone crying for hours, I took it to the extreme and had deep fear every time he made a peep. Not good and not from God. I had to quickly realize that books do not hold the answers; my child is a unique gift that no one has mothered before.

SO here we are, Asher is almost 4 months old. It has without a doubt been the most trying, INCREDIBLE 4 months of my life. I can say that I never knew it would be this hard, and I never knew it would be this blissful. I never knew how much fun I could have with a baby or how much my heart could overflow from a little smile or just when I watch him sleep. He still doesn't sleep great- naps for 40 minutes at a time and then I can sometimes nurse him back to sleep (and then have to lay with him throughout his whole nap to keep him asleep), but recently I have discovered that.....I'm okay with it. I was beating myself up about it because "everyone" says that you shouldn't nurse to sleep and that he should be on a better schedule and sleeping in his crib yaddayaddayadda. So in THEIR minds, we have problems....he is a problem child. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to not make something into a problem that isn't a problem for you, just because other people say it is. Because we are HAPPY! I am happy to lay down with him, snooze a little myself, and watch my sweet angel sleep. He is happy to have mommy close. Sometimes he will open his eyes in the middle of his nap, see me there, smile the biggest smile, and drift back to sleep- it is the most precious moment. This is a sweet stage where he WANTS me near. All too soon he will be a teenager and never want to cuddle! I also got great advice that God is the perfect parent and to ask Him for advice! Sounds simple, but it's true. I vowed to not open another book and to first seek God for answers.....and I have FINALLY found sweet peace in my decisions.

So, all that to say, Asher is not a "problem child"- He is a perfect child. The perfect child for me and I am the perfect mom for him. Not A perfect mom (by ANY means), but THE perfect mom for him. How good is God to never leave us to figure things out on our own? Even silly little things like baby's sleep schedules and whether or not to give a pacifier- He cares and He is near.

Praise the Lord that we're not on this crazy ride alone!


Mae Burke said...

oh girl, my heart goes out to you! You have no idea how much I relate.

I'm gonna be real honest for a sec, at one point I started to think "well, you're a weak mom aren't you?" SERIOUSLY. They would say over and over again how "Oh, just do XYZ because you cannot last like this, I CAN'T" Well great, you go ahead and do that "for" your baby, but i'll make it through this.

I know what's wrong with that statement, but after being beat down for 3, 4, 7, TEN months, you just get discouraged.

I applaud your honesty and strength Kate ;]

Debi said...

He looks 'perfect' to me! :)

Kate ... what an honest reflection of this time, written from such perspective.

What is it about people giving new moms unsolicited advice? I wasn't prepared for that one when I became a mom. That warning wasn't in the books I read. And, like you, I probably read too many ...

Thanks for sharing this.

Shannon said...

I can COMPLETELY relate! Anyone who knew Abigail as in infant pretty much only remembers her screaming. (Oh, and I also remember her fourth month being when things started getting easier. )

The best piece of advice I was ever given was from a friend who told me to "ignore all the other advice you're given."

I'm so glad for you that you've made it over the hump and that you're able to enjoy your sweet (and large!) baby! And you are right! You are the perfect parents for him and he is the perfect boy for y'all!


Hannah said...

So glad you wrote this Kate! I have so much respect for you and what you have endured and how amazing your attitude seemed everytime I talked to you. Asher is blessed to have you as his Mommy!

Brenna said...

Fantastic post Kate. That's the one aspect of Motherhood I wasn't ready for; the barrage of unsolicited advice and judgemental questioning people feel they have the right to inflict upon you. Glad you stayed true to you and did what was best for your family!

Jim Bob said...

Kate and Scott,

We've been praying for you guys and Asher since before he was here with us and have laughed with you and cried with you through the last few months. Parenting is the most unbelievable, ridiculously hard, most rewarding thing ever. We're so proud of you guys and are so happy and thanking God with you that Asher has turned the corner and is so happy, but more than that...you guys are so happy with him. Can't wait to see what's on the horizon for you guys!! Love you guys!

Esther said...

You are such an amazing and wise mother! I think it's wonderful you're sharing your honest feelings, frustrations, and victories. Motherhood, true motherhood is such an exhausting and fulfilling calling. What an honor to love and nurture our babies even on the hardest of days. Thank goodness the difficult seasons don't last forever. It's worth it all!

Mommypotamus said...

Wonderful post, Kate. I remember thinking when you were pregnant that you were more emotionally prepared to be a mother than most first-time moms I've met. I had no idea what challenges you would face but I have truly admired how you walked this season out. Move closer so we can see more of you and that sweet boy!

wej said...

cute photos!!! =)

visit My Blog.
~how to embed a link on comments