My Challenging Baby

This post has been on my mind and in my heart for a while to write. Maybe someone out there is feeling as confused and lonely as I was when my seventh baby was born.

We waited the longest time between babies #6 and #7. I actually had three months where I was neither nursing and/or pregnant. That hadn’t happened since we were married. We were so happy to find out that we had another baby on the way. The pregnancy was a good one for me – no problems. However, the closer I got to the birth the more anxious I was. Baby #5 had been a fast, hard and extremely painful birth. I was not looking forward to going through that again. But of course all babies join us one way or another, and Ethan was no different. After a long drawn out labour I gave birth to him in a pool at home.

Having a baby never gets old. There is nothing like holding that little body, hearing their cry, checking out their toes, looking for hair. Ethan turned out to be my smallest – 8 ½ pounds. I know, I know – for some that’s big, but trust me, for me that’s small (my biggest was 10 pounds). He was also blond, but unlike most blonds who are bald he had lots of hair that was also long and very visible. We were so enchanted with his hair.

See what I mean about his hair? and his crying?

See what I mean about his hair? and his crying?

I didn’t think I’d have any problems mothering this baby. After all he was my seventh. I had lots of experience. Then the crying started. When he was just two or three days old I was pacing the floors with him for hours because he just couldn’t go to sleep and trying to nurse him to sleep just made him more upset. Even a little baby gets heavy especially when you’re still recovering from pregnancy and birth. I ended up crying with him, begging him to just enjoy the nursing and let it put him to sleep like it had with all of my other babies.

We did two things that saved my sanity. First, we took him to a chiropractor who specializes in children. She was fantastic and the relief was immediate. He slept better and was calmer so we started taking him regularly.

Secondly, we bought a wrap. Ethan wanted nothing to do with anything mechanical – no swings, baby rockers, nothing. Human arms only. I was so thankful that my two oldest were old enough to help me hold and rock him, but even they tired of it. The sling was a life saver. I could hold him close like he wanted and still get something done. It worked so well that when he got too heavy for the stretchy knit fabric I made a wrap out of woven fabric to hold him a little longer.

immediate relief for both of us

immediate relief for both of us

He was fourteen months before I could coax him into a stroller. Even then he had to be held every few minutes before he would tolerate a few more minutes in the stroller. It took many walks before he stayed in the stroller for an entire walk. Now he can walk to the library and back reminding us that he’s not a baby needing a stroller.

Everyone helped out at some point.

Everyone helped out at some point.

He couldn’t tolerate car rides. Just going to and from church was a nightmare as he cried and cried. He was 2 ½ before we were able to take a family vacation away from home. Now he does a great job even on road trips that are two or three hours. The change is unbelievable.

He did smile sometimes.

He did smile sometimes.

He was my first toddler to have serious meltdowns. My others had one or two he has days still where he has several. In those instances I’ve found the best thing to do is to pull him into my lap and hold him close. I talk to him quietly until he can tell me what’s wrong. I’m hoping someday that these will pass and lessen as he grows up more.

He was almost two before I could put him in bed and walk away from him without him crying. For a while my husband bounced him to sleep every night. It’s amazing how I marvel now – a year later – at how easy it is to put him to bed. It used to take an hour to get him to go to sleep. Now as long as we follow the formula of a hug and a kiss and a “sleeptightdon’tletthebudbugsbite…” routine we’re good.

He used to cry every service in church (I logged miles and miles walking with him during services so he wouldn’t cry when he was a baby) now he can sit mostly quietly and make it through a whole service switching between my lap and his oldest sister’s. I had despaired at times of this ever happening.

We used the wrap everywhere.

We used the wrap everywhere.

I’ve learned that he doesn’t readily accept change – even if that change is as normal as going from awake to asleep or asleep to awake. So we have developed routines and systems to help him when there is going to be a change.

I hope this encourages someone who’s going through a difficult time with their little one. Some are more challenging than others. Ethan certainly has been for us. He’s a great little guy though. Very affectionate and growing up so fast. He likes things tidy (bonus) and loves to help clean up. He and his oldest sister have a very special relationship. She was in the room with me when he was born and has logged many hours caring for him. Sometimes when I can’t settle him she can.

Healthy Simplicity - My Challenging Baby

Hang in there, Momma. Try to enjoy your little one no matter what stage there at and what you’re going through with them. Before you know it this stage will be a memory and you’ll be moving on to something else.

Linked to: The Art of Home-Making, Titus 2 Tuesday, SHINE


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Jennifer Schonhaar

Jennifer Schonhaar

Jennifer is the happily married wife of a pastor and the somewhat-tired-but-oh-so happy mum to eight beautiful children. She loves to try new healthy recipes, sew, read to her children, garden and play the piano.
Jennifer Schonhaar

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12 Comments

  1. Julie Geoffrion

    Ahhh he was so gorgeous (still is). You certainly got a workout, eh! He is a special kid and of course more special cause he adapted to his aunt so well when she crashed his house for a visit haha ;).
    I think the wrap was a perfect idea and of course the bouncing from Dad is great ;).
    Each kid is unique.
    I thought I had the nursing down pat by the time our 5th, Stephanie, arrived and she decided IN the hospital to be obstinate about it. Glad the nurse that was there was the breastfeeding expert as she saved me big time. Of course, you know she finally caught on well to nursing since she nursed ’til she was 3. I would have SOOOO regretted stopping 🙁 Glad I didn’t!!! She and I are super close today!
    Love you, Ethan!

    • JenSchon

      I think one reason he is so affectionate is because we answered his need for lots of physical contact. It’s amazing how much one baby is different from another and how much you can learn from each.

  2. Oh, my gosh! I feel like we are lost sisters of something 🙂 Just found your blog through the Homestead Barn Hop. I am starting to read some of your older posts. I am the mother of 8 as well, with my children being the ages 16,15,12,10,8,6,3 and 6 months. I was going to leave a comment on your link up post about slings ( I may still do so if I have time). But I HAD to respond to this post! Oh my, how I have been in your shoes! But for me, it was my third born. Same thing, started crying on day 2 or 3. As a matter of fact, when I called to tell my parents the news of the baby’s arrival, I had been waiting until she calmed down (a few hours after the birth), but she just kept crying. So I called and had to leave a message, since it was the middle of the night. My dad said the following day, “That is the LOUDEST crying baby I have ever heard!” Yup, I knew I was in trouble. That poor babe cried for two years! Now that she is 12 and I’ve learned a *whole* lot more about nutrition and health I know why. I sooooo wish I knew that before she was born 🙂 But for her it was gut health (silent reflux, they have stuff only coming up half way, so they never vomit), and sensory issues. Sounds like your little guy was dealing with sensory issues as well. I have two with that problem.

    So glad that he is better now. And so, so, so happy to know that you were all willing to do what it took to help him through those years. It can be so overwhelming, as if it will never ever end. But it does. And we are all the better for it in the long run.

    Blessings,
    Kerri

    • JenSchon

      It’s so nice to know I’m not alone even though I would never wish a challenging baby on anyone. He still challenges me, but I would say that since his vocabulary started to grow and he can verbalize what’s bothering him life has gotten easier. He’s still very different from his siblings, and what works/worked for them doesn’t necessarily work for him. So I’m still learning how to best meet his needs. He’s a wonderful little guy though and we wouldn’t trade him for the world.
      I can’t believe how similar in age our children are. I rarely meet anyone with eight children and never the same ages. 🙂

  3. I love this post because it brings back memories of my first baby — such a hard little guy to comfort and figure out! Now he’s 21 and has married and started his own little family, and, yes! Their first baby cried a lot too!
    Blessings on you and your lovely family!
    Michele Morin recently posted…Your Story MattersMy Profile

    • Thank you for stopping by. I comfort myself with the fact that if Ethan has any babies like himself I’ll be able to sympathize with my daughter-in-law and help her figure out what will work for her baby.

  4. How adorable…and that hair at birth! 🙂 As I read through your post, I was reminded of some of the things I used to think wouldn’t end with Baby Boy – always having/needing/wanting to be on me (nursing or held or otherwise), not sleeping without me right beside him, etc. Those were definitely stressful times, but yes they have ended (or aren’t such a big deal anymore) and we’ll soon be transitioning him onto his own mattress in our room.

    I wonder how this next babe will be and I sometimes wonder if I can do it…yet, I know I can, especially when I’m reminded that I got through it last time, too! 🙂
    Life Breath Present recently posted…Would You Like a FREE Resource to Improve Your Health?My Profile

    • Hopefully your next one will be easy. My first baby was a little high maintenance, but my second was a peaceful, smiley baby.
      They were stressful times, but sometimes now I almost wish I could have that baby again. He’s getting so big and starting K-4 this fall…just growing up so fast.

  5. Your story reminds me of my youngest – I don’t think he was set down for the first 6 months of his life – at least it seemed that way! I wish I had know then what I know now about baby wearing, it might have made my experience entirely different. He’s grown out of needing to be constantly attached to me somewhat, but he still is all about mama! Thanks for sharing your support and encouragement!
    Steph recently posted…7 Ways to Prepare for a Tremendous MassageMy Profile

    • My little guy still likes to sit next to me or even better in my lap. He likes to give me hugs and kisses and is just a really touchy-feely little boy. It’s a nice payment for all the hours I spent holding him when I was beyond tired.

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