We have made it to six months, though some days it feels like sixty years. Things have gotten better in some ways and worse in others. On the side of better Gwen can ride in a car seat without screaming the entire time. Now she only screams when we stop. Needless to say I’ve driven through my share of yellow lights and sorry to any law enforcement, but also my fair share of reds.
She can also ride in the stroller, but only if we are running or walking very fast. Some would call it “trotting.” Once she can sit up and crawl on her own the crying subsides even more, but she replaces the crying with climbing. She can climb onto the kitchen table at nine months old. She also climbs onto the couch and throws herself off in dramatic belly smackers reminiscent of nest-tea plunges. She starts walk/running at nine months too. So now instead of holding her and running we just run along behind her. Some people might think this is helicopter parenting…and alright it is, but if we don’t follow her she is going to get into something dangerous because she refuses to play with actual toys and only wants things like forks, hairdryers, razors, etc. Even though we have baby proofed our house to the extreme she still finds things that she shouldn’t .
Horrible to admit but I’ve called poison control four times already. “For what!?!” you ask incredulously, as most of you have probably NEVER called them (just sod off already). Well, the running list is as follows: deodorant, a tube of titanium sunscreen, calcium tablets, and a whole mess of whitening toothpaste. They record your name and phone number (you would know this if you were a horrible parent like me) so by the fourth time I call the guy answers and says, “Hello Mrs. Swartfager, what has Gwen ingested today?”
Aside from eating everything in sight that would normally be inedible Gwen is somewhat saved by her binky as it limits her from ingesting more items that would likely require me to call poison control yet again. It also helps that she learns to talk at ten months old, and she can do so while holding her binky out the side of her mouth like a small plastic stogy and still speak with amazing clarity. By a year old she signs and says nearly 70 words (yes I made a list). Most people assume this is because she is a speech-therapist’s child…no…she is just a child who knows what she wants.
Improved communication helps in certain ways, but also makes her more frustrated because she knows we understand her and now when we refuse or try to redirect her she is not having it. When she is almost a year old I redirect her from trying to play with a wall outlet (with safety covers of course) and she keeps going back to it…67 times (yes I counted). Each time she screams and runs back to the darned thing, no matter what I do, including taking her out of the room and onto another floor of the house.
Sleeping is slightly better, and she naps for a bit of time in her crib. We have transitioned her to be soothed in the rocking chair by weaning her off the previously used yoga-ball- bouncing-to-sleep nightmare (see previous sensory blog) in a manner of starting out on the ball and then when she is starting to nod off flinging our bodies into the chair and rocking like a hobby horse on crack.
In order to get her to sleep through the night we have to sleep train her. I feel like a Nazi extremist putting her down in her crib and walking out the door as she wails like a banshee. She cries for an hour straight as I sit outside the door weeping. It takes a couple nights of this and then she is finally sleeping all night in her own room but we must re-experience the night-waking horrors every time her schedule is even slightly disrupted. Keeping her on a schedule helps since she knows what to predict.
Her biggest issue now is emotional regulation, which seems odd to say because all one-year-olds struggle with this, but unlike most other one-year-olds if you see Gwen in a meltdown you might assume she is fully possessed by the devil. She pounds, kicks, growls, and occasionally foams at the mouth. She throws the best fits of any child I have ever seen, but unfortunately this isn’t a skill you want your child to develop. At one point she dislocates my knee while I try to contain her in one of her classic fits of rage. Another time she lands a mean cross that dislocates my jaw. Yes. A one-year-old child dislocates my jaw and I walk around with a jaw that won’t close on one side, afraid to go back to the ER because they will probably assume my husband is beating me.
We have reached a point in time where we still don’t know she has sensory integration problems. Instead we have resigned ourselves to the fact that our child is simply put, a pain in the ass. I start to resent her. I start to think I made her this way. Logically I know this isn’t true but there is no logic left in my head since all of my energy and efforts go to dealing with her crap and dealing with my job.
I attend a parent support meeting where all of the other babies sit on their parents’ laps or play with toys in the middle of the room while I dance around the outskirts with mine. A group leader comes over to me and says, “It’s not your fault. She is a spirited child.” Then she gives me the name of the book The Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
I am appalled, but also grateful because reading it truly helps. I stop resenting her and learn some strategies to deal with Gwen’s personality type. Unfortunately I am still missing the bigger picture. Not every spirited child has SPD. But mine does, and it is doubly unfortunate that it will take another year and half for me to acknowledge what I should already know.
If you have or know of a child who is struggling with similar issues, please consider that Sensory Processing Disorder maybe the underlying reason. Consulting with a pediatric occupational therapist who is well versed in diagnosing and treating SPD will not only give you peace of mind, but tools to help your child and your family. Feel free to message me on the contact page at onlynowiknow.com for more information.