Wednesday, 21 March 2012

PND and an angry baby

Ben's been with us for a while now and there hasn't been very much to report on. He drinks, poops, sleeps, drinks a bit more, poops even more and sleeps again. When he's not doing any of the three then he's crying and crying and crying...and crying and crying. There have been days where I've felt completely incompetent and other days where I've felt slightly less so, but never a day passes where I don't doubt myself.

I know this is my second time round the baby block but Emma was three months when she came home. Still tiny but it's three months that a baby's had of getting used to his / her new body, a new environment, a  new skin. It's three months that his / her digestive system's been working and it's three months of 'acclimatizing'.

Ben's been battling with colic and he takes a while to wind, which obviously causes him a lot of discomfort. I never experienced this with Emma. There's a chance she might have outgrown it by the time she came to live with us or she never had it. But over and above the colic and the wind, he just seems angry. Sounds odd I know. But he looks pissed off with me and the world.

His little body seems to be in a constant state of 'flight or fright'. He's never completely relaxed or calm. In my more confident moments I put it down to wind, exhaustion or hunger. At my most vulnerable I've thought that he simply doesn't like me. I don't think my dose of PND (or in my case Post Adoption Depression) has helped either and while I wax lyrical about the universe / angels sending Emma to us and being such a perfect match, I also have to consider the possibility that the universe / angels mismatched Ben to us. Maybe someone somewhere made a mistake.

I've taken him to the chiropractor and the paed and they've both helped with colic and reflux, which I would imagine are the symptoms but not the root cause of this pissed off little person. A few people had mentioned Craniosacral Therapy (CST) to me but I thought it sounded a bit hocus pocus and a lot airy fairy until someone mentioned that their physiotherapist was a trained CS therapist so I started considering it. I was also desperate and ready to try anything.

The first therapist, highly recommended, was fully booked for the next few months, but she gave me the name of someone else who could see Ben almost immediately. She came to our house and the session began. It was an amazing thing to witness and for any moms and babies who went through any kind of birth trauma I would definitely recommend it.

She let Ben cry. His  little face contorted with anger, his body tense with stress. As a woman, a mother, heck, a human being, our instinct is to comfort and shush the wailing but she let him cry it out. The horrified look on my face spoke 1000 words and she quickly explained that crying is a form of communicating for babies and instead of plugging them up with a dummy sometimes we have to let them do it. "Imagine you trying to say something and someone constantly saying shhhhh or putting their hand across your mouth" she said. "How would that make you feel?" "Angry, voiceless, desperate" I answered. "Exactly!"

After what felt like an eternity his cry changed from an angry wail to a sad sob with tears streaming down his little face. And before I knew it the tears were running down my cheeks too. It's a helpless feeling to see your baby in such distress, with a tangible sadness, and I cried with him and for him. For his feelings of rejection and abandonment. For his loss and the confusion around him. It's a lot for anyone to deal with, let alone a 6 week old baby.

I don't know what she did or how she did it but I do know that for the rest of he day he was calmer, smiled a lot more and cried a lot less. He seemed at ease and at peace.

Emma as a baby taught me about unconditional love, acceptance, grace and gratitude. Maybe, just maybe, Ben's here to help me through my feelings of abandonment, rejection and loss...

Suggested reads:
Craniosacral Therapy: The Road Less Traveled (for children with special needs)
CranioSacral Therapy for Babies 


  1. It must seem so overwhelming right now. Just know that there are loads of us out here in cyberspace sending you love and support.

  2. Melinda, it does sound like he has post placement stress. It's quite common amongst adopted babies. Ava was the same and she displayed all the symptoms, as with Ben of post placement stress. I have written a blog posting about it here:

    Carry on with the CST therapy as it does sound like it is helping him cope with his stress and confusion. I was also encouraged by our social workers to just hold Ava, a lot. I wore her in one of those wrap carriers on my body almost all the time in the beginning and when she needed to cry, instead of trying to stop it, I had to let her cry but just hold her, sing to her and cuddle her while she worked through her grief, confusion and anger.
    Of course, Ben's placement while he was still so new will mean that you are dealing with a lot of different issues than what you had to with Emma but be sure it is not because he hates you, he is how grieving the loss of what is familiar to him, he is confused and you are doing the very best that you can for him by just letting him cry and comforting him without trying to stop him.
    It is very hard!

  3. Sending you lots of positive thoughts and hugs! It can't be easy and I hope you get through relatively unscathed. It is not your fault but you will get through it in time.

  4. Glad she seemed to help :) We do whatever we must to make the days easier!

    My oldest son was an angry baby. He had that angry look - it was hard - I had moments when I was not sure we would make it through the day and that I was not meant to be a mother.

    He still actually reacts in a similar way now - he gets angry but it is inside him and he rages and you can see it in his eyes but he says nothing until one day he explodes and screams and shouts and is then ok for a while!


  5. Also crying now!
    I hope it works...
    Best wishes to you as well!

  6. Having a newborn in the home is TOUGH! I raised two daughters who were BOTH angry little newborns (ha, they told me it wouldn't happen twice and No.2 would be a breeze.... they lied!) I would never want to go through those early months again ever.... BUT in the end it's worth it.

    I really hope Ben settles down soon. I have no doubt he will and in 5 years time this will all seem like a distant memory {hugs}

  7. I love CST! So glad it is working for you.

  8. sending love and hugs (to both of you!)

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