Apparently genetic ones.

My youngest daughter is a full 10 months old.  She is wearing 6 month clothes.  Not “6-9 month” which would be slightly more understandable… but “6 month”. 

Her growth chart does this ____———“”””””” — ____.

She has gained only 3 pounds in 3 months.  Her head is not growing quickly, but is growing proportionately.  She is officially a shrimp.  Even accounting for that recent week and a half illness that might have affected her doctor visit weight, she’s pretty petite.

This child has had digestive issues (read: colicky behavior, excess gas) since hospital days before bringing her home.  She’s extra sensitive to EVERYTHING.  Breaks out in hives which in turn cause diarrhea when they are at their worst and does all of this capriciously… or at least without any obvious cause.

She spent much of her infancy sleeping in a swing because it was the only way to get her to sleep and we STILL use a swaddler on her because…well… that’s how we can get her to sleep.  She is not a cuddler, so rocking is out.  For a time I tried to time laying her down at exactly the right moment so she would drift off to sleep.  This became stressful and was only haphazardly successful, hinging on a 10 second window. 

She can sleep through the night now.  More than 8 hours sometimes.  12 at times.  And then there are nights when she cries on the hour every hour.  There are days when she lays her head on my shoulder at the doctor’s office after having it nod for an hour because she’s just so tired (but doesn’t go to sleep because…well… we’re not home, in her swaddler or her swing).

I know there are those of you out there who would recommend the whole, lay her in bed and let her cry routine…. I’ll explain why I did not do this often in a moment…

She’s also brilliant.  She was intelligent enough at 6 months (or before?) that she was challenging her parents in areas of ‘no’ and crying hysterically at the word if she felt strongly about what she wanted to do.  She is strong.  She pulls herself up, stands, grabs, tugs, pulls.  Crawls to her brother shrieking with joy when he gets his diaper changed only to harass him all the while. 

She doesn’t have a pincher grasp and she sprouted two teeth very early only to make us wonder if the rest of those little visible teeth buds would ever erupt.  They haven’t. 

She’s happy, happy, happy if I’m in eyeshot and she’s not tired.  If she gets her knickers in a knot, they stay that way for a VERY LONG time.  As an infant, we were slaves to her schedule because the consequences for upsetting her lasted an entire day and a half of screaming, not sleeping and random eating habits before we could get her back on track.  It was AWFUL.   I didn’t go anywhere for fear of upsetting her equilibrium.  I disliked my children when they woke her up (okay, still do, to be honest =) ), disliked having visitors because sometimes that was all it took to get her off track.  It was BAD.

These habits of hers might concern me more if she were the FIRST to do these things.   Not her brothers.  Her brothers slept.  They sprouted a mess of teeth long before they ever needed them, had pincher grasps early, were adaptable and cheery.  (In fairness, Asa was particular about how quiet things should be when he was in the drifting off stage of sleeping and was a horrible car trip kid until he was at least 9 months.  Oh, and he‘s still wearing 18-24 month jeans at 2 and ½, but his growth curve is normal unlike this baby.  Otherwise, no similarities to speak of.) 

Fortunately (unfortunately?) she has an older sister who did the exact same things.  Except when the older was a baby I had not found swaddling blankets and thus she kicked her way out with her strong little body and laid in bed and SCREAMED.  For hours.  Then got her knickers in a knot (which here means she then awoke screaming every hour after finally getting to sleep) and took forever to settle down.  Because I had bought into the “kids always need to sleep in their own beds”, I put her in her crib even though it would have been much easier to put her in a swing or in my bed and keep her asleep.  I did start putting her to bed in her carrier car seat and set that in the crib because she seemed to do better in it.  She COULD NOT sleep and thus got overtired, over stimulated and SCREAMED during the day.  She wanted held but couldn’t handle it, wanted down but was too tired to play.  She spent the majority of her first year of life and nearly ALL of her first 6 weeks… screaming and crying.  She is probably the only baby that I requested that the nurses remove from my room.  She was a HORRIBLE nurser, the only one I gave up on and switched to pumping exclusively and supplemented with formula, which her stomach couldn’t handle (sounds like my baby girl who’s body seemed to treat every new food like a foreign invader and still reacts to things we know not of… good sisters all the way.)   

So when I got to this baby and noticed similar trends I knew all the things that didn’t work and we built our lives around hers which is normally a parenting "NO NO" and still is for us in most cases.  Does she feel more like a ball and chain than any of my other kids? Not really because Lithany’s crying was at least as bad as our efforts to keep this one happy.   But my girls have both caused me to feel trapped and

But it does feel A LOT like a ball and chain.  And when she cries every hour and I have to get up in the morning tired and with hammers knocking on the inside of my skull it is so tempting to be angry with her for being so darned inconvenient at the ripe old age of 10 months.

The other day after her checkup (at which she was broke out for the doctor to view… I LOVE it when they can actually SEE what I’ve been trying to explain) I was commenting that she is shrimpy just like her big sister.  From the back of the van I hear, “I am NOT a shrimp!”  And I realize that for all the trouble that older child put me through as a baby, she’s turning out pretty good.

So, prison master, you go ahead and wake me up and fuss when I leave the room and require specific sleep conditions.  Someday, you’ll be four and I’ll realize you were worth it.  Until then, try to ignore my grumpy face and bleary eyes and my discontent mumblings in the middle of the night.

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