Friday, March 11, 2011

A Bit of Empathy

Isn't it funny that within days of starting this blog, I lost my voice.  That is, I have horrible laryngitis. It's a bit difficult to teach, let alone manage, forty twelve year-olds when you can't speak, so today I arranged for a substitute teacher.  Although I'm grateful for the opportunity, I hate taking the day off! I hate carefully planning what the class will do in my absence and coming back to a mountain of ungraded papers. And a messy room. And a note that says, "thanks for the lesson plan --we ended doing such and such instead".

Most of all though, I am frustrated that I can't fully communicate with my son right now.  He keeps giving me this, "why won't you talk to me?" look and I miss our bonding.  Beyond that, in our house there is a lot of singing going on. We have a diaper change song, a bath song, a stroller walk song, a car trip song, a specific bedtime lullaby, and even a song that seems to work to help Tig calm down when he is upset. Don't get me wrong, the Von Trapps we are not. I can barely carry a tune. Its just that Bri and I find that Tig is happier with transitions when he has a cue to let him know what's about to go down. So no talking, reading aloud, or singing for me right now.  Communication with the boy has centered around funny faces, tickles, and smiles.

This whole experience has got me thinking about how frustrating being a baby could be. Tig has always been able to make noise, of course. At birth he shrieked for 90 minutes straight before we could calm him down.  But I think about how hard it must be to have very definite opinions as spirited babies do, and not have the vocabulary to articulate said opinions.  What would he really like to tell me right now? What would my spirited newborn have wanted me to know? I don't know these answers but I've gained perspective.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Surviving the Newborn Months #1: Is it Colic?

Every Wednesday I'll be posting tips for surviving the first few months raising a spirited child.

Colic is a condition that occurs in babies between the first few days of life until about four months and is often diagnosed in spirited newborns.  If your newborn is crying for three hours a day, three or more days a week, it is likely that your doctor will tell you that your child has colic.  Colicky babies cry even when they are not hungry, tired, or needing a diaper change.  You can imagine the toll this takes on parents!!! Some colicky infants show symptoms in the evening only while others cry off and on all day.

Colic, by definition, is just an abundance of crying. It is hard to know if your fussy baby has tummy ache or is just having trouble adjusting to life "on the outside".  This is partly because although colic is thought to be an intestinal or digestive issue, there still is no hard evidence to prove exactly what is creates the crying.  Thankfully, colic does eventually disappear on  it own by four months of age.  But even one hour with a colicky baby is too long!  It is heartbreaking to see a baby suffer so -- and unbelievably frustrating to not be able to fix it!

The first thing to try to cure your baby's condition is a diet change, although nearly all of the time the symptoms are NOT caused by mother's milk.  If you breast feed, try an elimination diet for peace of mind but don't switch to formula.  Common foods to give up are: dairy, caffeine, soy, onions, and bell peppers. Avoid the foods for at least a week to see if your baby's symptoms go away.  If you have been formula feeding, experiment with different brands and and formulations. Hopefully, one of them will agree with your newborn!

My Tig suffered with some mysterious ailment during his newborn months. I felt terrible watching him cry all day long and exhausted from trying to soothe him all day too.  The elimination diet didn't work for me so I focused on soothing my baby anyway I could. I'll be sharing all of my successes keeping Tig happy in later posts.

I still wonder whether Tig really had a digestive issue or if  his spirited little self was just not happy to leave his first humble abode. Maybe he just wanted back in?  Maybe he just wanted to go back to never feeling cold or hungry? I'll never know for sure. What I can say is if you are dealing with constant newborn fussies take life one minute at a time. A day can sometimes even feel too long to get through!  Know that other mothers have survived this difficult time and that it will go away. Get as much help as possible and don't be afraid to reach out and ask family, friends, and neighbors for help or hire help if you can afford it. Focus only at the task at hand. Know that as you are kept very busy, day turns to night, night back to day and time goes on.  Glimpses of your happy little baby appear. And one day, the magic colic fussies that you thought you'd never get rid of, go away for good...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I Love Having a Spirited Child #1: The Big Slide

Every Monday I will be writing about the joys of having a spirited child.

Today my little Tig went down the big slide at our favorite park. Being that he is only eleven months old he has no business sliding down slides.  Being that he is only eleven months old he can barely take a step, regularly plopping down on the ground until his determined little body wills himself back up.  But spirited children make things their business at eleven months old.  Tig and his mom, you see, enjoy getting out to the park, a place where it is practically required that you scream, climb stuff, and run from object to object with no particular rhyme or reason. We watched the five year-olds, big boys and girls the brave ones that is, make their way to the top of the slide. They peered out through the slide's opening at the headwaters of the imaginary waterfall, courageously took gulp of air, and dropped and dropped until they splashed into a sea of sand. 

Tig and I watched the big boys and girls get cheered on or coaxed down by parents. And then decided to give it a go ourselves. Up we went to the top of the slide. Down we looked at the roaring rapids. I looked at Tig and he looked positively thrilled. So we slid down the big slide. Again and again. 

And that's why this week I love having a spirited child.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Welcome to wee tot spirit! I got a spirited one -- how 'bout you?

This blog is designed to be a network for parents of spirited aka challenging children. I am the proud parent of an eleven month-old little boy who I'll call Tig.  Tig is a healthy and beautiful boy but he's not your garden variety kiddo.  He stands out in a crowd of babies. He's louder, more active, more persistent, and seems to need much more attention than the rest of his peers. He was the newborn that barely slept, cried even while feeding, and was called colicky.  He was the infant who hated baths, car rides, the stroller, being held horizontally and not being held. He's an outgoing and social little guy, who now spends a lot of his life in the extremes of either laughing or screaming --  but not much time in between.

This blog is for me to learn from other parents of kids like mine. Please hit me up if you can relate. This blog is also a chance for me to share what I can to support other parents of Tigs too.  I'll be sharing tips, product recommendations, ideas, research, the occasional rant and more.  Welcome to wee tot spirit!