Dealing with Separation Anxiety
This was the hardest topic for me to approach because we are dealing with some pretty intense separation anxiety issues at home. My delightful baby has never really liked people. As in – people in general. We’d be walking around the shops when she was a tiny baby, her head up my shoulder as she preferred to be upright and I’d feel her tense up suddenly and start screaming like a siren, turn around and sure enough there would be a very startled looking person trying to explain they were just saying hello to her. I spent a lot of time explaining to friends, family, shop assistants, people on the bus – everyone – its not you, it’s her, she just doesn’t like people. One time on the bus I was chatting to my son and I had turned away from my baby in the pram and I heard a sudden yelp from a lady sitting in the seat facing baby – baby was only 6 months old at the time – I knew exactly what had happened before I even turned around, and there she was, baby in the pram grasping this poor ladies finger tightly which she’d pulled into her mouth and bitten her. I explained to the very shocked lady that my baby doesn’t like being touched. (And I held together my laughter until I got off at the next stop because seriously what 6 month old bites people?!)
I’ve always had that same mixed feelings towards my daughters wilfulness. On the one hand it is utterly exhausting having a baby who will not, absolutely WILL NOT, go with or be held by, anyone by me. She barely tolerates her own daddy. My own mother was very diplomatic and said that if I’m really overwhelmed, if I really need her to, if I’m absolutely desperate, then she’d think about babysitting her for a few hours – BUT she’d prefer to baby sit our eldest son to at least help me out that way.
So in a fit of blind optimism muddled with desperation, we enrolled our baby into daycare, just one morning a week, just to give me a couple of hours with my 12kgs of koala bear baby off me. You might remember this post about baby starting child care – WELL – unfortunately there isn’t a happy ending to this story. After several weeks, with the most amazing carers I could ever have hoped for, they even baby wore her, they shared her around the centre, she was carted around, slept on their chests, barely put down (did I mention she is 12kgs!??!?! This is no small effort to carry my baby around) But she was refusing all food or fluid while in care, screaming almost the whole time, until her lovely carers would be so worried about her in this heat and all the exertion of crying, with not drinking any water, they’d call me after a couple of hours to come get her and then for the rest of the day my normally clingy baby would be a super Velcro baby, who would not be put down – at all – for the rest of the day. Seriously as in I’d be peeing with her on my lap for the rest of the day! So we’ve pulled her out. Daycare understood. In fact, they didn’t even make her stick out her two weeks notice, they let us just not take her back in. Oh dear. I think they were keen to not have her put through that drama either, the assistant director saying that she’d never seen any baby as intense as mine. At least that’s reassuring it’s not in my head – she is certifiably a difficult baby!
So, I found it very difficult to put together the overviews on separation anxiety, because every time I would go to start to write them my heart would seize up with the guilt of my sweet little baby screaming away at daycare while I sat at home writing about what she was going through.
It’s been much easier to write while she’s peacefully asleep on the mattress next to me and one day I do hope I can get just a little bit of space from my precious daughter. Just obviously not yet.
Also understand that with these two articles, they are just general information and some tips, not a fix or a cure. I might need to write another article about ways to stay sane with a clingy baby – but I’ll have to get on to that when I work that out for myself!