We've all heard the nightmare parenting story's about a clingy baby that refuses to detach from one or both parents. The baby that cries the very second the parent leaves the room or is, God forbid, left to play with toys on his own.
We probably all declared that would never happen to our own children, that we would instil independence from a ripe young age so as not to bring them up to be entitled spoilt youth of today. But what happens when your baby is the clingy one?
Here's a story about the baby who refuses to be alone:
"Right from the moment he was born I knew he was different. In fact, I think I knew it when I was around 7 months pregnant"
The pregnancy was hard and I hated every painful second of it, one of those pregnancies you just want over, quickly. But it was around the 7 month (or week 32) mark that baby started being difficult. I hardly ever felt him move and when I did it was a strange and often painful sensation. All in my pelvis and odd jabs in my ribs. I'd previously grew three other babies in this belly, I knew full well how movements were supposed to feel and this wasn't it.
"Ah" the midwife said, confused but not shocked, "baby is breech. And back to back" (left sacrum posterior) "and his feet seem to be up by his head!" Basically, he was completely the wrong way around, in the worst possible way. "But don't worry" said the midwife, still as jolly as ever, "you've got plenty of time for him to turn".
He didn't turn. Not even an inch. And so I was told a c-section would be the only safe option to birth my fourth and final baby. Previously, my births were all drug free, not by choice but because I tend to go through labour and birth in two hours or less. I also haemorrhaged with my 3rd. That along with this baby's position meant the risk of something going wrong was far too high to let me deliver naturally.
The c-section was a success and surprisingly quick, but something was missing; I didn't get to have the immediate skin-to-skin I got with my vaginal delivery babies. Instead they took him off to get cleaned and weighed and only brought him over to my face for the briefest of moments. It wasn't until I was stitched up and taken back to the room that I got to hold him properly for the first time, at least 45 minutes after his birth.
He was the most perfect baby (as they all are) he was a healthy 8lb and was covered in chubby little fat rolls. He slept soundly in my arms for the next hour.
While on the ward it was incredibly odd to have to call a midwife every time he needed feeding and he was always put back in his crib once he was back to sleep. In all honesty, it broke my heart, I just wanted to hold him. So when we got home that's what I did, I held him all the time. I couldn't bare to let him go.
I don't know what it was about my little Edward, but I just felt the overwhelming need to be with him, like I'd let him down somehow by not being able to deliver naturally, by not being there for him the moment he was born.
His first year was quite difficult to say the least. Edward suffered terribly with thrush and was on serveral courses of antibiotics, then at around 5 months old, he developed a chest infection that required steroids, antibiotics and inhalers. When he was around 7-8 months old my dad became unwell and spent three long, tiring, months in hospital.
During this time, Edwards Routine was completely thrown out of whack. Not only was I hardly around due to looking after dad and travelling to and from the hospital almost every day but when I was home I was too tired to do anything, too tired to even put him to bed. We wouldn't get home until 9pm some nights and although Edward was being wonderfully well looked after by his Nan, it was very rare he would be asleep when we got back. So for the sake of getting some sleep, he'd often fall asleep with me or Tom on the couch. This lasted the entire three months. Every night, Edward slept with either me or tom, always being comforted.
And here is where the clingy problems began. We tried tirelessly to get him back into his cot but each night was the same; constant bawling crying! And even if he did fall asleep he'd soon wake, screaming for us. None of us were getting more than half hour kip at a time and so he started sleeping with us again. For our own sanity more than anything.
Edward then became unwell again shortly after his first birthday. One chest infection led to another and eventually he ended up with pneumonia. We were in and out of the Doctors's and A&E for 9 weeks before he was well again. This obviously led to him getting more attention than normal. Now he wasn't just attached to me during the night, but also during the day as well.
He's 21 months old now and fast approaching his 2nd birthday, only now, he is the most clingy of children. He cannot bare for me to leave his side even for a moment. If I leave the house and he's with his dad, he will run to the door and scream for me, when his Nan takes us to Charlie's speech class, he'll cry for me until I return back to the car. No matter where I am in the house he has to be next to me. If I'm washing up, he'll physically push me away from the sink so I'll pick him up. Even if we're just sat on the couch he has to be with me, but not just next to me, he has to be close enough that he can touch my face or play with my hair.
He hates when I give attention to anyone but him, often throwing a fit if I cuddle Charlie, with a look that says "she doesn't love me". He'll jump in between me and tom if we're lay together on the couch and he'll push his older siblings away if they come near me.
He's not the bratty kind of clingy kid, but the deeply, emotionally attached. Being without me is like being without a part of himself, and I don't know what to do to make it better.
We've tried everything to get him to play alone, eat alone and of course, sleep alone but he's not having any of it. He wants me and only me, nothing and no one else will do. Sometimes I feel flattered, as through he appreciated all those weeks I nursed him back to health, that he was thankful for my being there. I love those mornings when he wakes up happy, a cute smile on his face that shows nothing but love and adoration that I'm still there beside him. The way he reaches his arms up for a cuddle wherever I am, the way he runs to great me when I get home, all of those things are lovely and I'm incredibly lucky to have such an affectionate child.
But sometimes, I do wish he could be happy being alone for a while or a least without needing to be completely attached to me. It's more than just hard work, in fact, it's physically and emotionally draining. Being a mom to a baby that refuses to be alone is probably the hardest part of being a parent, for me it is anyway.
I've no idea how either of us will cope when he starts nursery but for now? I'm going to keep adoring those smiles and pray that one day, he will at least, learn to sleep alone.
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