Having a Tough Time...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    The doctor mentioned the possibility of difficult child having an attachment disorder on Saturday. She was very clear that she did not think there was any sign of parental abuse or neglect...

    But now here I am, finding myself reviewing every moment of difficult child's babyhood, toddlerhood....

    Thinking about every mistake I ever made...

    Wondering if I could have been better...

    Feeling bad about every time that I was tired, or sick, or cranky...

    And I'm feeling really horrible that somewhere, somehow, I must have done something wrong...

    And wondering if every time a therapist or other specialist has said that difficult child's problem was just bad parenting--if maybe they were right.


    Talked to husband about how I was feeling. He tried to remind me about how "difficult" difficult child had been when she was an infant. Nothing ever seemed to soothe her--ever. Sometimes, there was nothing to do but put her down and let her cry.

    Never cuddled. Never liked being bundled up or held tightly. Had to be bounced--always.


    SCREAM!!! CRY!!!!


    We figured a "bouncy" toy might be just the thing--like a johnny jumper or one of those bouncy chairs--but no. If she wasn't being bounced on your knee....or in her little rocker...or in the car--she was crying. It was terrible. And no wonder I was exhausted and cranky...

    So was there something present from birth?

    Or was I just not patient enough? or loving enough? or....?

    I don't know.

    But thank you for listening...
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DF...I tried to respond to you last night and the board ate it with the server issues and I simply couldnt retype it because I was so tired.

    Im going to try to explain something that I have learned about personality disorders which I think will fit in your situation...okay? And by the way..just so you know, I have had to go through exactly the same questioning of myself too when Cory was given the personality disorder-not otherwise specified diagnosis too because we know pretty much for certain that MY borderline diagnosis was caused by my early, early childhood and parenting by my mom. So hell, what does that say about me as a mom if MY son has a personality disorder? Hmmm. I must have been a rotten mom too. Gee thanks.

    Ok...now on to what I wanted to tell you.

    There are some kids who are born into perfectly wonderful homes and go to perfectly wonderful daycares and babysitters but due to their innate makeup, they cannot find the fit in that world to thrive. For them, their world is invalidating...to THEM. Its not that the parents or other caretakers are being invalidating the way my mom was to me but that the child takes everything in around them as being invalidating.

    Like you said your daughter always wanted bouncing and screaming. For some reason, that is all she understood. It wasnt that you were doing anything wrong. You werent forcing this on her. You were doing everything you could think of. Like you said, you tried to give her everything you could think of to bounce! My mom would have just left me to cry. To heck with finding a bouncy anything.

    This isnt anything you did to her. Its the way she was wired. You couldnt have changed it anymore than you could have changed her height.
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    DF- I have to agree with Janet. My Duckie's earliest months sound like those of your difficult child. Exhausting and draining. It's also been pointed out to me that she may have minor attachment problems and it wasn't my fault. She was too sickly and had (has!) such a difficult temperament that she had difficulty attaching to me, not the other way around. Please don't beat yourself up over this... because if you do then I have to beat myself up too and I just can't bring myself to dredge up something so painful as "what if" today.

    I'm going to move this over to the General board because I think it is most definitely difficult child-related. {{{Hugs}}}
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Sorry- DF, don't blame yourself. No parent is perfect- even parents of typical teen's. If we spent all our time second guessing every decision and move we made we wouldn't be able to keep up with our difficult child's! Sometimes things just happen- we don't know why- we do the best we can with what we know at the time.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  5. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    DF, from what I've discerned here on the board, it seems you are one of those moms who does their all for their children.

    I cannot imagine anything that you could have done wrong ~ sometimes it's a long term ear infection or a long stay at hospital. AND the therapist is saying that difficult child has a possible attachment disorder; part of the neuropsychologist exam has a portion on trauma, etc. There are other tell tale signs. Every child presents differently.

    A child is either inhibited, disinhibited or as a disturbance of attachment. Your therapist isn't saying that it's full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Quite beating up on yourself - look to the future. Ask this person what your next best step is & how she will determine based on the family hx if difficult child is attachment disordered in any way.
  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I went thru these same feelings when it was suggested Wee may have the same diagnosis. In my case, for a very brief period in his infancy, he was neglected part of the day by DEX. Their theory is that, combined with just the way his development was all over the charts and a far cry from anything "normal", attaching to someone wasn't a priority to him for a long time.

    Allow yourself to grieve, tho. Just know, sometimes love isn't enough, and there's likely nothing anyone could do about it.
  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    DF, I think the others have offered sage advice.

    I do want to ask a couple of questions: What is "psychometric testing"? Do you know the names of the tests that difficult child was administered?
  8. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    DF - I understand completely what you are going through.

    difficult child was a struggle from day one. Couldn't be soothed, had to be held, had to be entertained - everything you described. She had severe separation anxiety, but did amazing with therapy at age 5. When she was 7, easy child was severely depressed and hostile (I couldn't leave them alone together because easy child would hurt difficult child) and then I became severely depressed and ended up in the psychiatric hospital. difficult child used to make cards for me that read, "I hope you never die."

    So, yeah, I get the guilt.

    Now, she has a borderline diagnosis. I've seen it coming since she was 7. Old school thinking is that in order to have a borderline diagnosis there *had* to be abuse. They know better now, but a lot of people still think of it that way. It is 70% biological. The rest of it is emotional needs that aren't met in some form. The thing is, it wasn't humanly possible to meet her needs. Her needs were, and are, extremely exceptional (I know that's redundant, but at the same time, true). There is no possible way to meet them. It is one of the things she is working on in therapy.

    You can beat yourself up all day long. The bottom line is you are a good mom. No, you're a great mom. You have done everything you can, and more, to help your child. Like Janet said, she's wired different. So is my difficult child. The objective now is treatment.

    Research and educate yourself. I can't tell you how much of a load off my shoulders it was to learn that borderline is primarily biological. I'm not a perfect parent. None of us are. I've had my struggles with mental illness. There are many of us on this board that have, which makes sense as genetics plays such a role. So, reading that I'm not the only cause of her disorder was....I can't even describe it. And I do know that I tried my damndest and left no stone unturned when it came to trying to help my child. Even therapist said she's grasping at straws with difficult child, which was so validating to me. I've always said that I'm constantly racking my brain trying to figure out how to explain things to her so she'll understand, how to get through to her, how to help her.

    It took me a while to get here, but I did. And you will, too.

  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thank you, everyone, for your replies...

    I have just arrived home from the doctor--my son has a very bad eye infection....so I will be keeping a close watch in him today.

    I am going to read and re-read all the advice, and try and "process" a bit...and respond more later.

    Thank you so much for understanding!
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    So it's been a few days...and now that DS is back to school, I can better reflect on everyone's insights.

    First, I think Shari hit the nail on the head. I am grieving. I have been feeling sadness, guilt, anger...definitely the grieving process.

    And it is very comforting to know that I am not alone in my experience with a difficult baby. She was my first--so on some level I was always worried that I must be doing something wrong. But now to learn that Wee and Duckie and Heather's daughter all had issues during infancy...well, it just makes me feel less alone in this.

    Janet had a good point about some kids just being wired differently....and difficult child is most definitely wired a bit different! So maybe some kids are just born with needs that cannot be met? It's definitely something to think about...

    Linda and KLMNO-- You are right. It really makes no sense to beat myself up over the past. I have made plenty of mistakes--but I must focus on what difficult child needs today. What do I need to do now--and what do I need to try next?

    Smallworld--To answer your questions:

    I have no idea what 'psychometirc testing' means. The referring psychiatrist told me that's what I was supposed to say when I asked for the appointment. She said I should use that term so that the doctor would know to do everything--including IQ testing.

    The testing that has been done so far consists of "Behavior Assessment" questionaires that were completed by the family and difficult child's teachers. A few hours of one-on-one questioning. and now doctor has difficult child attending "equine therapy" sessions to try and see her behaviors outside of a clinical setting.

    It's been a heck of a week. Emotionally, I am just drained. All the feelings about this new diagnosis with difficult child...all the worry about DS's eye infection. Ugghh!

    Thank you all so much for being there when I need to just get all of these feelings out! It definitely helps. Bless you all!!
  11. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    The first person to test me for my reading learning disability blamed the whole thing on "Parenting and allowing me to live in a too laxed home environment." It was written down in the report. Yet is was the same parents that fought for me until they found the solutions (which were not easy or cheap). It was the same parents that are responsible for me succeeding anyway.

    I have seen hundreds of examples of where professionals don't understand where the problem originates from, and then they pin it on the parents, particularly the mother. THIS IS NOT AN INDICATION THAT YOU WERE/ARE A POOR PARENT, IT IS AN INDICATION THAT THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND IT! I feel that the best answer would be poor parenting, because that is the one thing I could change. But unfortunately it is usually something far more complex. Something you have no control over. Letting a child, who can not be comforted, cry it off is not poor parenting. It is doing your best in a frustrating and difficult situation.
  12. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Aeroeng- I asked for parenting classes because I really had hoped it was something I was doing wrong and I knew I could change me. Our doctor, though, felt I was a good parent and the problems weren't likely caused by me.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I always told the doctors that I would have gladly dunked myself in a drum of horse pee or even drank it if it would have changed my kid. Unfortunately, it wasnt me who could do anything. It was him. I needed to do the dunking for myself, and he needed his own drum.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    They used to blame autism on the mother - "cold mother" syndrome. So a lot of women went through decades, lifetimes of guilt because they had a child with autism.

    And we know it was wrong.

    I'm wondering if "attachment disorder" is the new "blame the parent" bucket.

    If the child was adopted after some early months of mistreatment, I could understand it (maybe). My sister adopted two children, each had an appalling start in life with abuse and just plain neglect in infancy. Neither has what I would call attachment disorder, although there were certainly problems. The boy was 10 months old and believed to be "retarded" (that was the term back then) because he could barely sit up and was showing no interest in crawling. My sister worked solidly with him and within a week he was crawling. he had never had the chance to learn, he'd been kept in an empty cot all his life.
    A few years later she adopted a 7 month old girl who was just out of her third hospitalisation for malnutrition. The baby would not have a warm bottle; would not be held to have a bottle. She would only feed from a cold bottle, in her cot. That said a lot.

    Decades later, that girl is now a mother. Her first two kids - no problem. Then her next child had major feeding problems. She took the baby yo hospital and they tried to take the baby away from her, accused her of neglect. It took a lot of sophisticated tests to realise that the baby screaming all the time, apparent malnutrition etc - she had a digestive disorder.
    They were ready for the digestive disorder with the next baby, and the health authorities were much quicker to help and not blame. But the youngest now has a diagnosis of Asperger's on top of it all. Her early behaviour was similar - needed to be jiggled constantly.

    I have other nephews (two other families) where the child was shown to have big problems feeding, he would scream constantly from birth and couldn't be easily consoled. It was so bad that the mother of one (he was a first child) had her tubes tied when she delivered a second baby a fortnight ago. But this new baby is a easy child and I think she's regretting her decision. However, they have identified an enzyme deficiency in her first son and he is so much better. However, those years of being an inconsolable screamer have taken their toll on him and his parents.

    I think that story helped my other nephew who was recently diagnosed with the same enzyme deficiency as his second cousin.

    Babies scream for all sorts of reasons. Usually it's pain. That includes hunger pangs. One thing I've NEVER known, is a baby to cry because he has a wet or dirty nappy. Unless he has nappy rash and his rear is stinging. But a baby with no rash in my experience will not cry because he needs changing. Often a baby who has just soiled his nappy is happier, because he's shifted it all!

    The trouble is, especially if it's your first, is people tell you to stop fussing. Or they make you feel that you're hopeless as a parent, because you're inexperienced.
    I would also question whether she may have Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form. The need to jiggle is perhaps part of this - a need for the constant and highly specific sensory information.

    Girls are much harder to diagnosis with Asperger's than boys. They often show more capability in surprising areas, than boys with Asperger's. A GOOD neuropsychologist should find this. I'm a bit concerned that the neuropsychologist examination is not complete, and yet labels are being proposed. It could prejudice the rest of the testing, if there are preconceived ideas.

  15. ML

    ML Guest

    When you have an only and a difficult child, you really think it's all your fault because you have no basis of comparison. Manster also was a very challenging baby, he cried all the time and interestingly movement also helped him. I would rock him or walk/dance while holding and that seemed to help. We took him into the pediatrician repeatedly to be told there was nothing wrong and shook their heads and you could hear them thinking "first time parent". BUT, one time the nurse heard the screams over the phone and they began to understand. One thing that also helped was baby zantac because he had reflux. Anyway, my point is that I get it too. It's not our fault!
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I remember I used to have to carry difficult child 1 on his tummy along my arms, swinging him. He had to face out and down, not up and in. I also had my sister hold him for me once at a family barbecue, and I had to make sure i stayed out of his line of sight and also didn't speak around him. My sister sounded enough like me to fool him, but when he saw me and realised I wasn't holding him, he screamed.

    Each kid was different, so it wasn't the way I did things or habits of mine that the kids got used to.

    By the time I had difficult child 3, I had gone back to how I did things with easy child, which was - give the kid what he/she wants, preferably before they ask for it. So I would pick the child up as soon as the sounds they made indicated that they would soon begin to cry if left. You can hear the change form a happy burble to the beginning of a complain. So my eldest never really cried for the first few months. Same with difficult child 3 (apart from a period when the baby clinic tried to make me cut back on his feeds - THAT was a mistake!)

    I realise now, I was instinctively giving him what he wanted, letting him have the control. And so he was happy. Mind you, I wasn't letting him have anything that was bad for him, but I was so plugged in to him that he was able to effectively communicate his needs to me. It was when his needs became more sophisticated but his communication skills did not, that we realised he had a problem.

    With my older three I went back to work when each was about 3 months old. Some people hassled me for this, but it meant that I had independent observers of my kids' early development, something which has proven invaluable when we look back now. While I did have difficult child 3 in child care, it was for shorter periods, less frequently and he was much older.

    When you are a first-time parent you have no frame of reference, plus you have everybody else in your life telling you (often conflicting) informative tales of their own greater experience. Even health professionals can get it badly wrong.

    A screaming baby is trying to tell you something. But too often we have older family members telling you to "let the baby scream it out." There used to be a theory (I remember my eldest sister with her kids) that said that a baby's lungs needed to be exercised, and the best way to do this was to let the baby have a good long cry at least once a day. Then there was the "controlled crying" which despite all the experts, DID NOT WORK for difficult child 3. Not at all. We spent a day at the baby clinic under observation (plus I was supposed to be getting a chance to rest) and they failed to solve the problem, instead told me that my "pandering to him" was the cause of the trouble. Their methods were clearly not working for me; I was persisting anyway with trying to pat him off to sleep even though he hadn't had anywhere near as much of a feed as I let him have at home. The nurse accused me of picking him up when she was out of the room; I hadn't. After over an hour (almost two) of this, she took over and sent me to rest. Half an hour later she was back, telling me he hadn't slept but was maybe ready for another feed. Then it would be time for us to go home. No problems solved, only more caused.

    And this was my fourth baby, I was expected to know what to do (and frankly, I did, I realised a week later, when I threw out everything they had told me to do and went back to my own methods).

    When your child is 'different', you know it. If your child was ever aware of you as her mother, if she clung to you at any stage in her first year and cried when you left, then I don't think this is likely to be attachment disorder. Even though difficult child 3 is autistic, he still went through a clingy stage in his first year or so. Only it wasn't me he clung to, it was easy child. People thought she was his mother (which would have meant her having to be pregnant at 11 years old). The thing is, he was capable of forming strong attachments to someone. However, his behaviour when older, if you didn't know about the other issues, would lead someone to think "attachment disorder".

    The biggest thing with difficult child 3 and with easy child 2/difficult child 2 especially (less so with difficult child 1) is this 'attitude' towards other people, that everyone is on the same level. No difference between adults and children, no sense of "I have to show respect for this person because they are older/it's my teacher/it's my parent."

    It turns out - it's not attitude. It just looks like it. Instead, it is pure and simple, a total lack of understanding that there can be any difference in status from one individual to another.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 was a very caring, loving baby. She was cuddly, she would look out for other kids. Before she could walk, she would crawl to another baby in the child care centre to pick up that baby's dummy and put it back in their mouth. She would try to hold a bottle for a baby, even though she was still a baby herself. And when I had to pull her out of child care (because I left my job due to disability) she would, at 2 years of age, pick up my crutches for me if she saw me begin to look around to see where they were.

    But her behaviour later on - wow! But when we looked back, we could see the beginnings of it.

    She's still very loving and caring, but also still incredibly self-centred. However, I think her choice of child care as a career path had its beginnings back when she used to crawl to smaller babies to put their dummies back in for them.

    Kids are each unique.

    We do the best we can as parents. We can't do more than that! And the more you beat yourself up over something you might think you left undone - the more you distract yourself from what needs to be done now. You also tire yourself out needlessly.