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Ap baby with extreme separation anxiety

(23 Posts)
Partridge Sat 20-Oct-12 02:13:14

Please somebody help save my sanity/relationship etc.

Following an elective c section last year my ds3 was in nicu fr a week with respiratory distress syndrome. During this time I was mostly unable to hold him, he was given a lot of morphine and on a ventilator for a while. He had an emergency transfer by ambulance in the middle of the night and was given artificial surfactant etc etc - you get the picture.

When he came home he was fully recovered but then plunged straight into school runs etc. as a result of all this trauma and partly because ideologically I support attachment parenting (and had followed it to different degrees with the other two) I wore him constantly in a sling, co slept, breast fed on demand.

Fast forward 15 months and we are locked in a cycle where he screams whenever he is separated from me. And I mean whenever. Day and night. It is 2am and admittedly me, him and my husband are in a much too small bed but if he is not attached to my breast suckling then he is screaming. This cannot be normal? He won't let anyone but me, my husband and my mother pick him up and every time I put him down, unless he is totally absorbed in something, he will scream.

He can be enchanting and funny and is hitting all his milestones and obviously I adore him, but he is ruining some of my personal relationships - my parents are becoming increasingly sceptical about ap, my other dc are being neglected as he is so demanding and my husband is becoming very resentful o him (did I say he is currently lying on the floor with no covers)..

Is he one of the high-need babies that the sears talk about? How can I get my life back? What have I created?

I need some sleep and I want him out of my bed. Sometimes I let him cry for a few minutes because I physically can't attend to him every second and he. Just. Will. Not. Stop. It is the most shrill, anxious, alarming sound. At night I sometimes have to let him suckle all night.

Please help me. Is something wrong with him? Sometimes I worry he has a personality disorder and we just can't go on like this.

Thank you if you have listened.

JoinTheDots Sat 20-Oct-12 02:27:16

Personally I do not think you have created this behaviour.

Can you rule out pain and illness? Reflux, teething etc all make for clingy demanding babies who want to feed/comfort suck all night and be held all day.

Most advice (from health visitors and the like) says giving in to separation anxiety makes it end quicker, forcing separation only makes things worse, but you might need to try some gradual retreat and getting him used to other people providing comfort so you get some personal space back.

Have you read the no cry sleep solution? It has some good tips on reducing night feeding in a cosleeping situation. Trying to reassure with singing, stroking and similar can also help when you just cannot pick him up. Might not work to begin with but worth trying.

Sounds like he is a lovely chap and he will grow out of this, bloody hard for you and the rest of the family in the meantime though, you gave my sympathy.

Badgerina Sat 20-Oct-12 13:23:58

I don't think you've created this behaviour either. Has he always been like this? If so, I think you may have answered your own question when you mention the Sears "high needs" baby! My son was the same. If not, it could be a developmental stage.

It's difficult to know what to say that might help because I pretty much went with it, when my son was a baby. I just took his lead really. Easy for me to say because I didn't have other children to deal with or nearby parents/in-laws to disapprove of my "weird" AP ways. I really feel for you.

Are there any practical adjustments you could make in your life that might bring relief? How about looking at your sleeping arrangements? Your poor DH can't always end up on the floor!

Have you read The No Cry Sleep Solution? You probably have! I liked this method as it fits nicely with AP, but it's a very practical solution. It will take time though. High needs babies/children don't respond we'll to changes and need LOTS of repetition before new routines and rituals become accepted.

Sorry, I don't think I've been much help! You have my sympathy though. Oh and one thing to remember: high needs babies often grow into high needs children, not always, but if they do, they are fascinating individuals and often delightfully quirky (DS1 is certainly quirky!)

Partridge Sat 20-Oct-12 20:11:49

You have been a huge help. Thank you. I am just not used to this - the other two are lovely but very different. One is very alpha and was a really easy baby and the other is very sensitive and gentle but was also a very easy baby.

I haven't read the book so that is a brilliant practical first step. Please tell me more about high need children? Thank you all.

Texmex Sat 20-Oct-12 20:28:32

I also second and third that I don't think his behaviour is as a result of your AP approach. If anything that has no doubt helped him feel more secure and cry less than if you tried to impose a schedule of enforce separation. My DD was similar (and that was without the birth trauma you endured, that must have been harrowing for you all) and was probably at her worse between 12-18 months. I ended up sleeping on a makeshift bed next to her cot for a few months as we were all grumpy and not getting any sleep when she was in bed with us.

It did get better, but I agree that going with it as you are doing will probably lead to it ending sooner than if you try to enforce separation. My DD is still clingy, will only let me DP and her grandma pick her up, but is better at playing etc. Hang on in there, you're doing a great job of comforting him from the sounds of it. One thought, have you thought of cranial osteopathy? We had a few sessions for DD and even though she cried through it (as a stranger was touching her) it seemed plausible she could have a headache/some pain she couldn't communicate. I won't say it did wonders but it may have helped a bit. Hope you come out the other side soon.

Texmex Sat 20-Oct-12 20:33:51

Oh, I've also just bought a book called The Highly Sensitive Child which is an interesting read too!

Iggly Sat 20-Oct-12 20:47:40

Yes I wondered about reflux or something like that if he's feeding all night. He could have low level discomfort which means he's not happy.

As for your husband - can you please set up a proper bed for him? Where will your DS sleep when he does go into his own bed? Can you set up a bed and have him in a single bed so you're next to each other?

RandomMess Sat 20-Oct-12 20:52:31

I would absolutely take him to see an experience cranial osteopath, many babies born by c-section need something sorting because they haven't gone through the birth canal that does something to them when they go over your coxyx. Yes it could be silent reflux too.

I don't think you've created the behaviour at all and I'm not someone who ever could have done AP but have had 3 very easy babies and one miserable screamer (was silent reflux).

Partridge Sat 20-Oct-12 21:07:56

Thanks for the moral support and endorsing the ap. it's very important to me. Just to clarify at home me and dh sleep in a super king size. We are away and sleeping in standard doubles. Hence him on the floor!

stottiecake Sat 20-Oct-12 21:51:16


ds1 was exactly as you describe except wouldn't be calmed by dh or anyone else at any time of day or night! He wanted to be attached to boob all night too. It was very heavy going. I used to co-sleep with him on a mattress on the floor of his bedroom.

At 16mo I had reached the end of my tether with the all night feeding malarky and decided to night wean. I completely agree with AP and have seemed to follow that style didn't get a choice

The night weaning was quite hard but not super terrible. I was determined and just stopped feeding him between 12am and 7am. He was pretty angry about it at first but after a couple of nights he stopped waking to feed.

when he was 2.3 he self weaned completely (I was about 20w pg) Over time bedtimes became easier - used to cuddle to sleep for a while but not any more.

He is now a really happy confident little chap. He started nursery in january (3.2yo) and took to it straight away even though he had never done anything like that before.

I suppose I am trying to say 'hang in there'. I think they all get there in the end it's just very very flipping hard at the time. Am going through it to a lesser degree with ds2 who is 16mo in november :D I'm not going to night wean him until all his teeth are through tho (2 big back ones to go!!)

stottiecake Sat 20-Oct-12 21:54:11

I would just like to say I still co-slept through the night weaning (I still am actually - with 2 of them!! I shouldn't be giving advice!!!grin)

PeggyCarter Sat 20-Oct-12 21:59:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

paranoid2android Sun 21-Oct-12 05:45:43

The hand in hand parenting website has some great advice for helping children and babies with their emotions. It may be that your dc's difficult start in life is why he is feeling such strong sepetation anxiety and that he needs some help to release the fears he carries from that time . I am on phone so can't link but try googling

Hand in hand parenting - the long goodbye
Article (this is one for dealing with sep anxiety)

Hand in hand parenting - listening to nursing children article

And hand in hand parenting - helping children sleep

The hand in hand method has some similarities to ap but what I found interesting is it helps you to deal with your child's separation fears with emotional connection- it's about more than just the physical proximity of ap.

Thanks to hand in hand my baby sleeps through the night! I still cosleep out of choice but you don't have to

Good luck!

Iggly Sun 21-Oct-12 07:16:06

Do try and rule out anything physical. My DS and his cousin incidentally both have food intolerances and mild allergies which played havoc with sleep until 2-3 years old.

Independence come from dependence

I don't think you have created this behaviour, I also have a full term NICU baby who was never separated from me once we got home. She is much harder work than every other baby I know, food intolerance was an issue, as was muscle spasms and cerebral irritation.

I am maybe in the minority but having tried osteopathy at some considerable expense I don't think it makes jack all difference. Just empties your piggy bank.

beancurd Sun 21-Oct-12 07:45:34

Yeah one of mine was very like this, couldn't believe how easy the others were in comparison.

He is still little and the behaviors you describe will phase out over the next year to eighteen months... work on different sleep associations if you want, keep remembering this will pass. Have to lobby actively for a 10 sec cuddle from my old limpet who is a confident and capable child.

Pyrrah Mon 22-Oct-12 00:10:13

You have my sympathy.

DD (now 3.5) was a completely AP baby - we still co-sleep and we've almost (fingers crossed) weaned her from breast-feeding.

From about 10 months the separation anxiety kicked in and it was horrendous. DD is extremely strong-willed and undistractable and would cry 3 or 4 hours solid till I returned. It was so bad that we couldn't go out without her as no-one would baby sit.

She would just about accept DH, but even being picked up by someone else would send her totally hysterical - and that was with me in the same room. She also fed constantly - it was like she was super-glued to my boob!

So many people said that it was no wonder she has SA as I had 'spoilt her' and that she was manipulating me and that I hadn't exposed her enough to other people. I live in London a long way from close friends and family so I was on my own with her a lot, but even the cleaning-lady who she adored and had known since she was born wasn't allowed to pick her up without a complete melt-down.

I even sought professional help and I remember sitting there bawling my eyes out, saying here is my daughter, whose feet barely touched the ground till she was 5 months, who was worn dawn to dusk, who co-slept, who was ex-bf on demand, who was never allowed to cry for more than the time it took me to pick her up, and she has the worst separation anxiety of anyone I know. Have I caused this? Did I do AP wrong?

They totally reassured me that I'd done nothing wrong, that I needed to give her more reassurance not less and definitely not try and push her to be more independent and that the phase would end.

A friend suggested I read the Sear's High Needs book and that was very helpful and made me feel a bit better.

The SA lasted till she was around 22 months and then just suddenly stopped.

I sent her off to nursery at 2.4 and she was furious when I turned up 2 hours later to take her home. The week settling in period was reduced to a 2 day one!

She is now one of the most confident, independent children I know. She started school a few weeks ago and there were no problems at all with tears and clinging. She is also one of the most strong-willed children on the planet and I have a shelf full of every book out there on dealing with difficult, challenging, will-not-ever-do-what-they-are-told-and-drive-you-to-tears children. Oh, and one of the most huggy, cuddly loving children (which is a good thing or I might have sold her on eBay by now).

Your son will come out of it, you have not done anything wrong or made bad choices, and I remain convinced that AP is a great parenting choice. Just keep confident - and try and keep sane while it lasts! It is hell at the time, but doesn't last for ever.

Partridge Mon 22-Oct-12 10:45:09

Thank you all. It is so kind of you all to relate your parenting experiences and brilliant for me to see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I realise ap isn't for everyone but lovely to have universal endorsement of it here. I will popover to the high need thread soon and thanks for all the book suggestions - getting busy with the kindle already.

I had to terminate a conversation with my well intentioned mother last night where she told me that I was destroying my life and my relationship with my husband. She suggested I let him CIO for 3 nights like my sil did with my dn. I just can't be bothered with these draining conversations. She told me that people on mumsnet endorse my ap because it is a "forum for people who have to consult about everything and can't follow instinctive parenting". If ap isn't instinctive parenting I don't know what is??

Any ideas on how to deflect these conversations which make my blood boil? Any articles on ap backed up with empirical evidence I can sign post her towards?

Thanks again...

bean dip

Saw it on another forum years ago, the person had a technique by where whenever anyone swung the conversation round to her parenting choices she would distracts them, "Would you like some bean dip?"

I have to say - that although I was and am very AP with my DC1, then as and when I have another then I will be less so, it came about through circumstances rather than a chosen path and i do feel that our DC1 would probably have slept longer and better had she been in more of a routione from much younger, one thing I would never do is subject any child of ours CC/CIO.

Haberdashery Mon 22-Oct-12 13:47:15

Hi Partridge, you could be describing my daughter in your OP. We had none of your initial issues to cope with but I would say that from three months on, separation anxiety kicked in with a vengeance and it took a long long time for her to even accept being in the same room as me and not being held. I did not set out to do AP but we ended up kind of doing some of it by default as there was no other way that I could live and not be constantly listening to my daughter howling. Her dad would not do. Nobody else would do. At 15-18 months it was as bad as it ever was and she used to actually injure herself if I tried to put her in a cot on her own. I had to go back to work part time when she was five and a half months old and it was bloody awful. However, I would say that things started to slowly improve from about 18 or 20 months - this is not far away for you and I hope so much that you will find the same. I will say that DD is still very much a clingy and mummy-centric child, but she went to preschool and school without much of an issue (in fact fewer separation issues than some of her friends who hadn't been such hard work as babies) and she is growing in confidence every day.

I also had to put up with crappy comments about how I'd made a rod for my own back etc but I think all you can do is quietly say 'Sorry, I don't agree and I'd prefer not to discuss it' and repeat in the manner of a broken record. We're still dealing with PiL's expectations and desires for her to go and stay with them but it's a lot easier now she's six and can say 'I don't want to go without Mummy' etc. Also, I no longer care what they think about anything as they were so bloody unhelpful when things were hard.

Good luck, Partridge.

BlablaSos Mon 22-Oct-12 13:48:42

Haven't read all the posts but agree with those who said u haven't created this. I didn't co-sleep and only breast fed for 2.5 months and my 13 month old is very similar to this (she did have silent reflux).. Totally sympathise as it does affect relationships, especially if you disagree with how to handle the situation (like we did/do).
Seeing a cranial osteopath is a good idea. I've been told it gets better at 18 months, if this is true you don't have long to go!

RandomMess Mon 22-Oct-12 21:27:21

Please please go and see a cranial osteopath, if it doesn't help then I know it's money wasted but if it makes for a more contented baby then you will all be happier. He may just have the most banging headache from such a rough entrance to the world.

As for your mother - well words fail me sad

Pitmountainpony Tue 23-Oct-12 03:14:47

Jay Gordon really supports ap.
He interviewed lots of young people who were ap as part of his book on co sleeping.....interesting how he observed all seemed to enjoy a healthy affectionate relationship with is encouraging reading. If you are doubting though.
My mum was horrified by my feeding on demand when she visited and kept trying to get baby in a cot......she stopped when I tried her way and she found me up bf in the early hours almost asleep on the sofa with baby...far safer to be in bed safely with you....even she saw this.
Ignore ignore.....she is just suggesting her way of doing it. It is what mums do.

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