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12 month old (and mommy!) huge separation anxiety - warninglongpost

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  • 12 month old (and mommy!) huge separation anxiety - warninglongpost

    Thank god I found this forum and this group. I mean it. I'm at my wits end re: "what am I doing wrong? maybe I am doing it right?" as I'm sure many of you can relate.

    Our baby has always been afraid of strangers -we attributed this to him getting sick & hospitalized very young and we were literally told by docs NOT to take our baby anywhere out of the house for 8 weeks (we were so scared we even asked the doc if it was ok to kiss our baby)! But as he grew older and we started taking him out, we noticed he gets startled easily, cries if someone gets too close to him to smile and look at him, and will scream if picked up by anybody else. He gets acclimated to people only if we wear him and after an hour he gets curious and wants out, and then he will be friendly and even play with a guest.

    For his one year birthday party we went to a restaurant with about 12 guests at the table and our son cried about 90% of the time even worn in the wrap!

    Now, the situation: I work from home - always have, and plan to always do this. However, I'm a high-strung, type A personality. I TOTALLY related to BrendaK's thread, because I felt like how she felt! We live in CA, have a big mortgage, and there's no way that we can afford NOT to both bring in income. My husband works in a very narrow industry, which translates to "we need to stay in this area so he will have a job". I on the other hand can do a lot virtually, and have adapted and built a business so that I can leverage a lot of web technology.

    I needed me-time too, because I was getting stressed more and more as our son becomes mobile and extremely active. He gets into everything. (omg while i was typing this, he had taken down a box of kleenex and proceeded to rip all the tissues out and destroy them) I was getting more and more tired - and I felt like I really needed help during the day - I wasn't able to do much business work even at the computer. I started arguing more with my husband, and he began dreading coming home depending on how stressful of a day I had.

    I thought the solution was: have my mom come help me for 6 or 7 months. She is now here and staying for 7 months.

    I also listened to my mom's advice and on the 3rd day she was here, we totally disrupted our baby's routine and she forcibly took him (i.e. while he was screaming bloody murder) out of the house in order to "get him used to separation from mommy". Before the end of the week we back-pedaled and began to acclimate him more gently, by keeping the routine mostly the same while my mom stays nearby. He slowly got used to her presence, even smiling and playing with her.

    But he still will scream bloody murder if he loses sight of me for too long, or if he thinks I'm about to leave. He ended up being more clingy than he's ever been, probably because he got terrified that he'd lose me. I want to be with my baby too - separation is hard for me too - but I also want at least 2-3 hours during the day of uninterrupted time to myself and to work because I need to!

    When I'm nearby, my baby can play independently on his own, and if he wants to get into mischief (like the box of kleenex he has successfully destroyed), he is fine having me out of sight because he knows I'll stop him! So I don't think it is a matter of him being 100% unable to do anything on his own. I believe it's a matter of helping him feel secure while at the same time, giving me the time I need to work and take care of myself.

    Where and how do I make this transition? It's really easy to start second guessing ourselves when everyone has advice and most contradict each other. I want to hear from people who practice attachment parenting and know how I feel and what I'm talking about, instead of advice like "just leave for an hour and let him get used to it". Since my mom is here, I want to work with her and the baby on the best way to transition this.

    Thank you soooooooooo much for reading this and for whatever help and wisdom you can offer!

    jane
    Last edited by momat36; 12-19-2008, 03:21 PM.

  • #2
    Hi! I don't have much advice or time to write right now but I want you to know that I remember my daughter responding to strangers/family the same way after spending 3 weeks in the hospital, one of those weeks in intensive care when she was 1 yr old too... with love and patience he will learn to trust the world around him.... I am not sure that forced separations will help you achieve this, I would follow his lead right now and separate from him gradually as he starts to feel comfortable again...

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Jane, I can totally empathise with you as I have a 14 mo old right now who as I type this knocked down two chairs, pulled out packaging material from the trash and is eating it!

      First of all I would like everyone to rephrase this tendency from separation anxiety to preferring to stay with their attached person. I think separation anxiety implies there is something wrong with our children that needs to be fixed ; then well meaning people like your mother try to fix it. In most cases the results are like you mentioned "He ended up being more clingy than he's ever been, probably because he got terrified that he'd lose me." I have noticed it with my own children so you are certainly not the only one.

      I think having your mother there WITH you both is a wonderful idea to get work done and still keep your child close by and available. After your mother moves away you might try trading time with a freind during the day- she comes over and plays with your kid (and hers) while you get work done and then some other day you help her out. There are many options to try for keeping a child chose and respecting that attachment while still getting work done.

      Your baby seems very much the sensitive child, who particularly benefits from consistency of caregivers and attachment. I applaud you for being aware and proactive about his needs. Your needs are very important as our lives need balance, can your mother provide some time in the evenings occasionally?

      Sometimes my baby does well in restaurants but once we took him to the Macaroni Grill (where I usually like it) and he just screamed the whole time, when we went outside he stopped. There was just something about the place he HATED, the lighting, the sounds, the smells. I am sure your boy would of told you if he could. He was telling you the only way he knew how.

      I didn't see a specific question but If you have one I will be happy to try to answer it!
      Do you have a local group for support?

      Comment


      • #4
        Maybe what I need is a predictable "routine"?

        Thank you Lumena and Naomi!

        I suppose my 1st post's question was more about transitioning my boy to get used to my mom as a trusted caregiver as well: i.e. how long does it take for baby to trust grandma enough so she can hold him to comfort, not just to hand him over to me while he screams and cries because "not mommy" is holding him!

        But, I realize this is a question no one can answer. I am feeling alone and that's when I start ruminating, "did I do something wrong for being so close to him, and now he's not socialized?", then I start blaming myself for not knowing the "proper way" to be a mother.

        It's helpful just to read many of your experiences with your babies so I don't think I did something to "spoil" or "ruin" my boy. Can you tell I'm a first time mom? LOL.

        What I may need everyone's help with is setting up some type of a predictable routine. I realized that I haven't been consistent with what I do every day for this past year. Babies love routines and maybe my boy will feel more settled when he knows what to expect each day. What do you think?

        Here's what we have been generally doing (before my mom came - we've been

        ~7:30am Wake up, drink milk, change diaper, wash up etc.

        ~ 8am I am at the computer with coffee checking morning emails while baby plays with his toys and tries to pull down a shelf. This is the time of day when I'm most likely to get some business work done bc baby seems to be the most independent in the morning.

        ~ 9:30am Baby's 1st nap, ranges anywhere from 30-60 mins.

        ~10:30am wake up, snack break for both of us

        ~11am - 12:30pm baby plays while I watch TV, I try to eat some lunch or do some business work depending on baby's level of independence, then I play with baby. I also feed baby lunch around this time but it may be too close to snack time no that I'm looking at this.

        ~ 1pm Baby's 2nd nap, usu. 60 minutes

        ~ 2pm baby plays while I watch TV or try to do some business work, but this is the least productive time of day for me bc baby often wants me to play with him.

        ~ 330pm on Monday Wednesdays my husband's started to care of baby so I can get an hour at Starbucks to decompress. Tue/Thu he goes to the gym so I keep taking care of baby. Usually I try to have baby play by himself so I can do some business work on the computer.

        ~ 5pm onward there's really no routine! baby gets a bath sometime around 7pm, we may feed baby dinner and eat our dinner before or after this timeframe, then baby may play a bit in the office while my husband and I get on the computer and then we go to the bedroom and watch TV while baby plays with us and fall asleep.

        (in writing this, I realize how much I seem to try to get on the computer to do business work, even though I feel like I don't accomplish much each day. I think there are some behaviors I need to change and alter my work habits so that I'm not trying to do multiple things at once, because I'm not 100% attentive to my baby.)

        jane

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Jane,
          Yes your baby is normal! and very healthy to have that connection to you. A baby that is more eager to be with others may either have a different personality then yours or is less attached and desperately looking for connection elsewhere! You have not done anything wrong or spoiled him by being there for him.
          I will tell you how hard it is to "get things done" with a toddler, regardless of your parenting style! On general parenting boards you see it all the time so it is certainly not isolated to a certain parenting approach!

          You would like to create an environment structured more to encourage more work for you and more independent play for your son, correct?

          My first son at this age LOVED looking out our front window and watching the buses and trucks go by. We live on a busy street so that was a real exciting thing for him and really drew his attention for long periods. You might try getting some bird feeders near a window he can look out etc. Something fascinating and unpredictable! Ooh a ferret to watch! or whatever, sorry, brainstorming!
          My second son had his brother to distract him so its an entirely different thing! I still don't get 'much done' because now there is two to care for, but occasionally I can sew while they play in the neighboring room.

          The thing with transitioning a child to be more comfortable with another is simple exposure in a non-threatening environment. What makes YOU feel at ease with a new person?
          Being with your mom and you as much as possible (in many different situations) but never FORCED to be without you will help him see her as the 'norm'. If he wants you to read him a book or play blocks tell him you are working but Grandma (a few feet away) is willing to read to him, might help him see the benefit to Grandma.
          If he insists, read it to him, but if he wants another suggest Grandma. Don't make it stressful on him so he worries that mommy will never read him a book again, just present an easy comfortable choice he can take and after an hour or a day he might start taking the Grandma choice.

          Use that idea for meals, suggest Grandma give him the food.. keep trying, don't be offended or make a "thing" out of it. Try going to an extra fun place like a park and bring your laptop and work. Grandma will go an play with him while you work but are nearby. Eventually he will relax and realize doing something with Grandma does not mean Mommy is gone!

          I have never been one for schedules so can not advise on that subject. Their needs change so quick at this age I feel as soon as you would get it all perfect, his nap would change etc. What you wrote sounds great with some little tweaks here and there for lunch etc.

          Have you looked for a local group yet? You will need that support system after your mom leaves! Make that connection NOW!
          Last edited by naomifrederickmd; 12-18-2008, 07:04 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Naomi,

            You're 100% right - my husband yesterday said that we (meaning he and I) have to take time to warm up to strangers, and we're adults. How can we expect a baby to be less cautious? I also realized that babies have one thing they haven't yet learned - pretense. If they feel unsafe or scared, they don't hide it to look "tactful" in a social situation! My baby is probably doing what I would have done, except I'd hide the screaming a lot better LOL.

            One thing I haven't done that I wish I had is find local support. I don't even know where to look, or what kind of support am I looking at. Many people suggested mommy & me classes, which in my area runs around $25/class or $100/mo. Kind of costly for 1 hr a week, with our budget. Can you give me suggestions on the support group I can find most helpful? If it's mommy & me I'll sign up.

            jane

            Comment


            • #7
              where do you live? have you looked for an API Support group?

              Comment


              • #8
                If you're still nursing, going to a La Leche League meeting can be great support for this type of parenting. Bonus, if it's a toddler meeting.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You do not need to sign up for a class to find support! Its great if you are interesting in the thing of course but should not be your only motive. You said you live in California, Look here to see if any are nearby. If none are, please call the closet and they may be in touch with others in your area anyway who also want that API connection.
                  La Leche League is great also, even if you are not still nursing!
                  That is where I met a few people who shared parenting styles and eventually started our own API group here together. IT has been wonderful. Look here for N CA or S CA to find if any are in your area.

                  Also a general search on Yahoo groups can find an informal AP group near your area, of course I perfer API, surprise surprise

                  Your husband sounds supportive, that's great!
                  Please don't isolate yourself and try to steer towards like-minded parent groups so you feel truely supported. Being a new parent is challenging you just need more back-up and we are always here for you too.
                  Last edited by naomifrederickmd; 12-18-2008, 09:43 PM. Reason: fixed links

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I live in the California south bay - beach cities area, in north redondo beach. I didn't see one that is close to my area in the CA listing - depending on traffic, this is a significant drive for me.

                    I am not nursing but will definitely check out La Leche League per your and Jessica's suggestion!

                    jane
                    Last edited by momat36; 12-19-2008, 03:21 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Support Group in Redondo Beach

                      Hello,

                      I wanted to introduce you to a support community in Redondo Beach - www.RivieraPlaySchool.com

                      and also the blog we maintain on our site as well.

                      Lots of Love,
                      Linda



                      Originally posted by momat36 View Post
                      Thank god I found this forum and this group. I mean it. I'm at my wits end re: "what am I doing wrong? maybe I am doing it right?" as I'm sure many of you can relate.

                      Our baby has always been afraid of strangers -we attributed this to him getting sick & hospitalized very young and we were literally told by docs NOT to take our baby anywhere out of the house for 8 weeks (we were so scared we even asked the doc if it was ok to kiss our baby)! But as he grew older and we started taking him out, we noticed he gets startled easily, cries if someone gets too close to him to smile and look at him, and will scream if picked up by anybody else. He gets acclimated to people only if we wear him and after an hour he gets curious and wants out, and then he will be friendly and even play with a guest.

                      For his one year birthday party we went to a restaurant with about 12 guests at the table and our son cried about 90% of the time even worn in the wrap!

                      Now, the situation: I work from home - always have, and plan to always do this. However, I'm a high-strung, type A personality. I TOTALLY related to BrendaK's thread, because I felt like how she felt! We live in CA, have a big mortgage, and there's no way that we can afford NOT to both bring in income. My husband works in a very narrow industry, which translates to "we need to stay in this area so he will have a job". I on the other hand can do a lot virtually, and have adapted and built a business so that I can leverage a lot of web technology.

                      I needed me-time too, because I was getting stressed more and more as our son becomes mobile and extremely active. He gets into everything. (omg while i was typing this, he had taken down a box of kleenex and proceeded to rip all the tissues out and destroy them) I was getting more and more tired - and I felt like I really needed help during the day - I wasn't able to do much business work even at the computer. I started arguing more with my husband, and he began dreading coming home depending on how stressful of a day I had.

                      I thought the solution was: have my mom come help me for 6 or 7 months. She is now here and staying for 7 months.

                      I also listened to my mom's advice and on the 3rd day she was here, we totally disrupted our baby's routine and she forcibly took him (i.e. while he was screaming bloody murder) out of the house in order to "get him used to separation from mommy". Before the end of the week we back-pedaled and began to acclimate him more gently, by keeping the routine mostly the same while my mom stays nearby. He slowly got used to her presence, even smiling and playing with her.

                      But he still will scream bloody murder if he loses sight of me for too long, or if he thinks I'm about to leave. He ended up being more clingy than he's ever been, probably because he got terrified that he'd lose me. I want to be with my baby too - separation is hard for me too - but I also want at least 2-3 hours during the day of uninterrupted time to myself and to work because I need to!

                      When I'm nearby, my baby can play independently on his own, and if he wants to get into mischief (like the box of kleenex he has successfully destroyed), he is fine having me out of sight because he knows I'll stop him! So I don't think it is a matter of him being 100% unable to do anything on his own. I believe it's a matter of helping him feel secure while at the same time, giving me the time I need to work and take care of myself.

                      Where and how do I make this transition? It's really easy to start second guessing ourselves when everyone has advice and most contradict each other. I want to hear from people who practice attachment parenting and know how I feel and what I'm talking about, instead of advice like "just leave for an hour and let him get used to it". Since my mom is here, I want to work with her and the baby on the best way to transition this.

                      Thank you soooooooooo much for reading this and for whatever help and wisdom you can offer!

                      jane

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just a quick thought - my son is the same age and very similar. I see yours is taking two naps. I too work at home on the computer and never seem to have enough work time. I see from your schedule that yours takes two naps. I found that if I nurse my lo earlier and distract him from a morning nap with a walk or just some playtime, then I can settle him in for a wonderful 2 or 3 hour nap right after lunch. Some days it's just not possible, like if he was up a lot in the night or he's just too tired in the morning, but most days it works and that 2 or 3 solid hours of naptime is a godsend to both of us. Just something that works for me and my buy you some more time. Good luck!

                        Comment

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