true tales from the gates of the underworld


Duracell Bunny
December 22, 2012, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been meaning to post for a long time, but you know how it is.. Life happens.

I have come to the conclusion that Squidge must be a Duracell Bunny.
Some of you might know what I mean – a particular type of high needs baby. (ok, I know that technically he’s not a baby anymore, he’s fast approaching 20 months, walking, talking -making demands!- and occasionally even going on the toilet, but he’s my baby)
When he was born, he was well-nourished, full of all the lovely nutrients that had sapped away my vitality and patience in pregnancy. He weighed 8.6lbs, more than a whopping 2lbs more than Raptor, his 38cm head housing this always-running-at-high-speed brain. He was a solid, squishy little boy. And he refused to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time, always in my arms.
Soon, we learned that he was what some people call a “scrawny screamer” – gastro-esophageal reflux disease meant more vomit than you could possibly prepare for – on average four full outfit changes including underwear for both me and him – pain, constant hunger, no sleep, a lot of screaming and pretty much static weight.
After experimenting with different medications, methods and old wives tales we settled into a rhythm that almost worked for us. I say almost because even at almost 20 months he’s little, 19lbs, and while the vomit reduced, he had problems with constipation instead, and he was still frustrated.
The biggest thing for us was the discovery that he would sleep for a couple of hours without being held laying on his front. By the time you have spent three weeks sleeping in 20 minute chunks, upright with a child on your chest, guidelines become a lot less important than actually being able to remember your name.
“tummy sleeping” introduced him to something exciting – a new perspective. Soon, all too soon, he learned that moving various muscles would influence this perspective. By 16 weeks he was crawling like a caterpillar, and this is when I first realised my baby appeared to have more energy than other babies. He was always on the move. By 20 weeks I had had numerous “oh god, where is Squidge” moments. By 25 weeks he had learned to pull himself into a standing position, even though he lacked the core muscle strength to sit unaided yet. By 7 months (last Christmas) he was accomplished at climbing and cruising around the room, often using his mouth to transport things.
Regular toys don’t interest him much, instead he likes to explore everything that adults use – be it forks, hammers, remote controls…screwdrivers appear to be a favourite.

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He doesn’t stay in one spot for more than a couple of minutes, always intensely concentrated on what he is doing, reaching for things with an incredible determination.. Then moving on to something different and repeating the process. And never failing to astonish us with self-taught skills (at 12 months it was colour sorting, at 20 months he’s counting to five, knows how to turn various appliances on and make them do what he wants them to, and he can make logical decisions), he appears to learn something new every day, even when it seems like he can’t possibly be spending long enough with something to learn how it works.
Conventional methods of transport are a nightmare, Squidge is an escape artist of the highest order and wriggle out of any sort of restraint with ease. He strongly dislikes carseats and pushchairs, and only tolerates slings and carriers if he can be constantly on the move, and also have something to play with at all times as well as turn in all directions to observe. We had to give up using our stretchy wrap early on as he would lean back and attempt to backflip out of it.

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Dinner with all four of us at the table is a rare affair, Squidge would rather roam about. He needs constant stimulation or he gets bored, frustrated and a bit destructive (in the sense that if we don’t provide him with stimulation he will seek it out wherever he thinks he can get it. Sometimes this involves opening and emptying my paperwork drawers or the shoe rack).

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TV gets boring after a couple of minutes unless there is something interactive happening.
Sleep… Well. Sleep… I could say “what’s that?”. I can vaguely remember it… To get Squidge to sleep,you need patience, a thick skin, and make sure your hair is tied back if you intend on keeping it. We have breastfeeding acrobatics, singing, dancing, talking, running around, jumping, horsey play… And those are interspersed with little breaks of just a few seconds, that seem to re-charge his batteries endlessly. Cat-naps during the day seem to give him a new lease of life, and in the evenings he will be on his feet, and appear wide awake pretty much until the moment his eyes drop shut. and as soon as he opens them again, the fun starts all over.

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Sensory stimulation seems to overload him sometimes.. At night, all the stimulation keeps him going, his hearing is incredibly sensitive, and touch sometimes drives him crazy – he seems unable, or unwilling to tolerate the touch of certain fabrics, showers reduce him to a shaking, hysterical mess, smells, vision and taste all have incredible effects on him.

Up until a couple of months ago he refused to react to social cues, and even having his name called would fail to elicit a response from him, that’s how absorbed he was in what he was doing.
Always on the move, never stopping, never resting. “Into everything” doesn’t even describe it.
It’s entertaining to watch from the outside, fascinating maybe, for family members who can only see the bright sparks for small periods at a time… But it’s utterly exhausting to live.
Maybe in future I can write some pieces though the gift of hindsight of how to deal with high-needs, high energy babies and toddlers through the gift of hindsight… Expert articles explaining WHY they are the way they are only help to the point that I at least don’t feel like there is something wrong with him, or our parenting… Until then, please get on, the ride on the Squidge Express will commence in 30 seconds. Please keep your arms and legs in at all times and don’t ever take your eyes of Squidge, then you’ll be alright.

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