Written by Jennie Bagot-Woods
“Ode to Baby”
You grew in a place accustomed to loss…
so mum and dad loved you with such hopeful force.
For 8 months we talked through a barrier of skin…
hoping you heard us and felt safe within.
We were flooded with love on the day you arrived…
but it wasn’t long before you cried, cried and cried!
You wouldn’t sleep and constantly screamed…
Happy times felt like a faraway dream.
I couldn’t always stay calm but certainly tried…
You screamed and screamed – my heart had lied!
The love didn’t give me super new powers…
Not when the crying lasted hours and hours!
With no magic touch or endless reserves…
the exhaustion began to get on my nerves.
When a mothers soft voice and touch failed to soothe…
I felt like a failure with all the wrong moves!
When you fussed day and night, always awake…
the smiles I forced were often just faked.
Through exhaustion and tears I fight to stay calm…
but you won’t even settle when walked in your pram!
I give cuddles and smiles when I just want to sleep…
My love reserves don’t feel quite as deep…
When my efforts are met with you crying blue murder…
It often feels like you don’t need your mother!
A short trip in the carseat makes you angry and wild…
You are the absolute epitome of a difficult child!
Impossible to pacify, comfort or soothe…
Your crying will stop when only you choose!
And I see other mums getting out and about…
With their calm little babies, I’m filled with self-doubt…
Am I doing something wrong? am I spoiling you?
When I let you have cuddles and feed you on cue?
Should I lie you down crying to get in a state?
Even though I know you will end up irate?
We have tried all the tricks to get you to bed…
but you quickly awake with a face that is red!
And the anger ensues for another crying spell…
When you would have slept on me perfectly well!
I feel like a mother undeserving of child…
when times like this frustrate for a while.
And I blame you poor baby for my lack of sleep…
when I wish you’d just settle and not make a peep.
Then the moments we spend, you and I locking eyes…
I forget the bad times, the screams and the cries…
And you mimic my sounds, you giggle and smile…
and suddenly the exhaustion seems all worthwhile!
The love it returns, it’s deeper than ever…
when I see my real baby – beautiful and clever!
And I no longer envy the mums with calm babies…
when I think our good moments possibly, maybe…
will start to last longer, you will settle with time…
And, come good or bad, baby you’re mine!
So for now I am happy I’m doing the right things…
as I see you develop and the joy that this brings…
Just a smile a day to keep me from crumbling…
even if I need to wee and my tummy is rumbling!
For I know that these times are a phase and will pass…
Everyone says: “the hard times don’t last”.
For that I am grateful in respect of the crying…
but our cuddles I’ll miss, there’s no point denying!
“My Needy Baby”
I have a needy baby, I’ve known it all along.
Determined from day one, just born so damn headstrong!
I’ve an interest in personalities, a psychology degree.
I know a bit about behaviours and analysing what I see!
People say I’m spoiling her with cuddles, love and feeding!
But all I’m doing is responding to what my baby’s needing!
It’s just part of who she is, some of her personality traits.
Just some that during the baby years, for parents aren’t great!
A well-known paediatrician, by the name of Dr. Sears,
studied childhood behaviours over several years.
With three children of his own he thought parents exaggerated,
when they talked to him of needy babies and how much they frustrated!
Then along came his fourth child, a needy baby to the core,
and he believed those other parents without doubt forevermore!
It’s nothing to do with birth order, nor a product of parenting style.
It’s pure and simply down to the individual child!
There are 12 things that are typical of a baby with higher needs.
The first one is “Intensity”, their emotions take the lead!
The second is “Hyperactivity”, which means freedom to move.
So if you try to swaddle her she might loudly disapprove!
The third point is they’re “Draining”, exhausting mum all day.
Craving constant interaction, even when it comes to play.
The fourth is “Frequent Feeding”, where some comfort can be gained.
So when they say “she should go 3 hours”, not all babies are the same!
The fifth – that word “Demanding”, she knows just what she wants,
and if you delay in delivering, you’re met with yells that haunt!
The Sixth – “Awakens Frequently”, sleeps less than other tots,
so expect that for the first few months not much sleep will be got!
The Seventh is “Unsatisfied”, which can also mean insatiable.
When it comes to providing comfort you’ll try every trick available!
Eighth is “Unpredictability”, in mood and things that soothe.
So something that worked well one day, the next will be no use!
Ninth is “Super-Sensitive”, so alert to their surroundings.
Upset by tiny changes, startled by sounds around them!
Tenth is that old adage: “I Can’t Put My Baby Down”.
It’s easier just to wear her inside my dressing gown.
Eleventh is “Not a Self-Soother”, needs held or rocked to sleep,
and can only be lay down when the slumber phase is deep!
Twelfth is “Separation Sensitive”, anxious if not on mum.
So forget passing her round visitors who only want a quick turn!
My baby ticks each category of all 12 points above,
and the only way I’m coping is purely down to love.
I’ve been kindly offered advice by many other mums.
But if you’ve not had a high need baby you’ll never understand one!
I can’t just leave her crying, she won’t learn to self-soothe.
She needs to feel secure on me and see my every move.
By taking things at her pace, she’s becoming more content.
And she no longer has to scream when she has feelings to vent.
She is and always will be clingy, for at least a year or two,
but if responded to appropriately her confidence will shine through.
So this means answering her cries quickly and with love.
Because when it comes to everything else, her needs are way above!
All babies are so different, high need ones are unique.
So much they want to communicate, but unable to speak.
Research has been conducted over many many years,
and if these babies needs are met they will settle like their peers.
A lot of the behaviours that just now make life seem hard,
if dealt with, with compassion, will lay down traits that last.
Like determination, confidence, trust and empathy,
and as a child, then adult these will help in many ways.
If I were to listen when they say I spoil her with love,
and that I should leave her crying and just put my needs first,
she would quickly become a baby unhappy all the time,
so I’m confident my methods are working out just fine.
By following my instincts and answering her cues,
I’m noticing a transition, a very obvious move,
from a baby always fussy, unhappy when not being held,
to a very happy little girl who will tolerate short spells
of sleeping in her pram, or sitting in a seat with toys
whilst mummy does the dishes and soothes her with her voice.
So please don’t tell me I’m making a rod for my own back,
because all I’m doing is helping to set her on the right track!
So constructive advice is welcome but criticism’s not!
I’m doing the best I can, using everything I’ve got.
And don’t tell me to leave her crying as that’s something I’ll never do.
How would you like it if you were upset and your loved ones ignored you?
A high need baby just requires a little more attention,
and is somewhat more intense across the points already mentioned.
But that extra intensity makes her happy times contagious,
as when she giggles, her gigantic smile lights up all our faces!
“Love is Why”
I do not want to lay you crying though some will say I must.
I want to keep you nice and close and in my instincts trust.
They ask: “is he a good baby?”, whilst meaning: “does he sleep?”.
“Can you put him down and walk away to enjoy a slumber deep?”.
I often answer with protest that… “baby’s are unique,
They only cry to communicate whilst unable to speak.
So if he cries and just needs held that’s what I’m going to do.
Don’t label him a bad baby, he’s perfect through and through.
I didn’t become a mother to put all my needs first.
I’m there for him no matter what, for better and for worse.
His parents are his everything and really all he needs.
There’s no such thing as too much love, too many hugs or feeds.
The days they can be difficult and the nights can be so long.
But he won’t need me forever, he will soon be big and strong.
I don’t think for a minute I’ll regret this path we take.
As love drives my decisions and sweet memories we make.
I always want to remember what it’s like to hold him near.
To stop those tears in an instant and take away his fears.
To see his small chest rise and fall as he falls asleep with ease.
All because I’m holding him so.. judge me if you please.
I know when he has grown up and cuddles don’t come quick
I won’t look back whilst wishing that I’d found the perfect trick
to lie him in his bed alone to get some housework done
I’ll be remembering the sleepy snuggles, laughter, love and fun”.
My perfect little sleep thief you are good in every way.
I do not care to listen to what the doubters say.
I will hold you all I want to, I’ll respond to every cry.
If people question why I do it, I’ll answer: “LOVE IS WHY”.