To say that the first six months of Caroline’s life were completely overwhelming for us would not be an overstatement. There were many reasons for it, but chief among them were the incredible sleep deprivation (she woke up to feed two or three times during the night no matter what we did) and her strong, demanding personality. (See some of the Dr. Sears stories on my high-need baby page if you need more info on this.)
We were completely exhausted, running on fumes.
Looking back now I think I was probably depressed.
We felt very alone for a variety of reasons.
In the midst of all this, something came up at church (where we were fairly new). It had to do with the fact that we didn’t put Caroline in the nursery during the first several months. She was bottle fed and she was born at the end of September. Our pediatrician advised us to keep her out of the nursery during the cold and flu season since she was so young and was on formula. And so we did.
We kept her in the service with us because it was best for her (but, honestly, not us). She almost never slept during the service and wanted to be held which meant we got little to nothing out of the service. But we were convinced it was the right thing to do for her well-being and we’d make the same choice again.
Anyway, a respected older woman in the church took it upon herself to inform me that people were offended that we weren’t putting Caroline in the nursery and that we were making an idol of her.
(Insert numb disbelief here)
I’m not sure why I’m telling this story tonight. I’m sure I’ve told it before on my blog. I just feel compelled to share this so apparently someone out there needs to read it.
You know, when you have a differently-wired child you just have to make choices that other people aren’t going to understand. Someone might not come right out and call your child your idol, but there are plenty of ways they will communicate something similar.
I would think I would have gotten used to it by now, but I haven’t. Something similar happened recently when I was trying to explain some of the choices we’ve made for Caroline. It’s hard to explain the simple yet complex life we live in a few sentences. And then the deafening quiet from the other person with no words of support… I don’t know. It still cuts, but what can you do?
They don’t understand.
You really can’t explain it to them.
You pray, you make the best choice, and you leave the results to the Lord.
God gave me this particular child to raise, the answer to years and years of prayer. No one knows her as well as I do whether she eight weeks, eight months, or eight years.
She’s not my idol, but she is my responsibility.
I’m thankful I can tell the difference even if others from the outside looking in can’t.
Thank you for sharing this. My third child was (is) high-needs. My mom was the one giving me guff about it. “Oh, you need to take a break” “He needs space, too,” etc. She didn’t go so far as to say I was idolizing my son, but she implied that he was being spoiled by me holding him constantly (and rocked and bounced.) Luckily, I was a stubborn then as I am now 😉 I knew that God gave this child to me, not my mother. She was a good mom, but none of us were high needs so she really thought I was just spoiling him (in spite of the fact that his two older sisters weren’t that way.) None of my other four children were High needs like this little guy (one was colicky, but that was physical and she mostly outgrew it by five months.) He is now six years old and is, for lack of a better description, intense 😉
Okay, what I meant was “rocking and bouncing,” not “rocked and bounced.” I may be up, but I am not quite awake 😉
Every child and every situation is different, and it is just messed up when other people judge and nay-say when they aren’t even in that situation and can’t understand.
Leah – That’s interesting that your own mom couldn’t see that it was more about the differences with the child rather than your parenting since you have multiple children.
I think David and I usually didn’t get the benefit of the doubt because people automatically labeled us as the classic “older parents who have precious only child they waited a long time to have so they think the world revolves around her” type attitude. And I think we overcompensated in the other direction by perhaps not being quick enough to identify certain things about her (such as giftedness) because we are concerned about being viewed that way and we don’t want Caroline to grow up to think that the sun doesn’t shine til she gets up. It’s kind of ironic in our desire to not overdo it in one direction we probably overdid it in the other.
I don’t want to make my mom sound like a totally unsupportive person but it was odd that she thought I was spoiling my baby. I really think she was concerned about the bags under my eyes and was trying to be helpful but was totally stumped 😉 My son was born 8 days before I shipped my husband off to Army basic training and I was dealing with this very needy boy while trying to prep for an overseas move without my husband (eek!) She always treated me and my three siblings as individuals, but I don’t think any of us were high needs kids.
I just went over the Dr. Sears’s website and read “12 Features of a High Need Baby,” even though that “baby” is now six. The first of the twelve was “Intense.” Oh, boy!
Re baby as “idol”
I was reprimanded for not putting my baby in the nursery too, but the kindly older woman explained it was because “Satan uses babies to distract people from the Gospel”
I don’t know if you’ll see this since I missed replying to this comment, oh, four and a half year ago, but wow. I can’t believe someone actually said that to you. I mean I completely believe it, but good grief. Where do people get these ideas?