You know those boys that just come out of the womb running? The ones that leave you breathless from the get-go, and give you a hard time with everything?
That was our first son.
He was a fabulous nurser in the hospital, latching on without much problem, and giving my husband and me plenty of “oooh, aaaah” moments as brand new parents. We were smitten at first glance, and pretty sure we were going to make amazing parents. Unfortunately, that all changed approximately one hour before we were released, when…
The Lactation Consultant came in…
She took one look at my son’s latch and shook her head, “no.” Sure, I was in toe-curling pain, and his little bottom lip was tucked up under the way it shouldn’t have been, but he was eating, and seemed to be content.
In an effort to help us before we left, she “corrected” his latch, which was great for me, but apparently not so great for my little stubborn man. As soon as she left the room he “popped” off and I couldn’t get him to latch on again before it was time to go. By the time we reached our home with our firstborn for the first time, he was screaming, and what followed were the worst 48 hours of my life.
No Visitors, Please
Visitors who came to see our new little “blessing” found me hiding in the bedroom trying desperately to get him to eat. On the third day of his life, we put a sign on the front door that said, “No visitors, please. We’re getting to know our new son and just need a little more time before receiving.”
I didn’t realize it then, but my “no visitors, please” message would become much more than just a sign on my front door—it was a guard I placed over my heart, and around my son to hide from the world how much I was really struggling to be his mom.
He was just hard from the get-go, and the ugly truth was that having a challenging son made me feel like a bad mom.
Fourteen months passed and I found myself pregnant again. Nursing my oldest had finally clicked on day eleven, but we’d still endured some difficulties along the way. I never mastered nursing in public, so our lives revolved around his eating schedule, and we went through a horrible biting season where my son seemed to take great pleasure in my pain.
You might be shaking your head and thinking, “a baby that young can’t possibly take pleasure in his mother’s pain. She’s way off base.” Please understand that when I say he bit me, what I really mean is that he would randomly, and unexplainably stop nursing in the middle of an otherwise blissful meal for us both, grit his teeth, chomp down with all his might, and then laugh when I screamed in pain.
When the Lord gave me a laid-back, easy going, contented, happy little boy the second time around, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I was convinced that God knew I couldn’t handle another hard one, and so had decided to have mercy on me on our second try.
I was wrong.
At five months old, my sweet, happy little second-born had the first of what would become a four-month long ear infection. He was in constant pain, and somehow, during that season of difficulty, my laid-back baby boy morphed into an even more difficult child than his older brother.
The first two years of his life still rank up there as the most challenging years I’ve ever experienced. I went to bed most nights in tears, knowing I hadn’t been the kind of mom I wanted to be that day, begging God to change them, help me, sedate them, sedate me, or just do something to get me out of the mess I was in.
My reality—two hard-to-handle boys born just twenty-three months apart—took my breath away. I have friends who decided not to have their children so close together just because they watched us struggle so hard. I was embarrassed by their behavior, embarrassed by my inability to control it, and endured enough, “why doesn’t she do something” stares to last a lifetime. So I did what every normal person does when they’re embarrassed…I hid.
With my “no visitors, please” sign taped firmly over my heart, I muddled through the first two years mostly alone, mostly depressed, and starving for some kind of relief. I did the best I could, tried everything to be a better mom, but consistently fell short in almost every way.
If my story sounds anything like yours—whether you’re in the throes of toddlerhood, getting ready for Kindergarten graduation, or just praying your hard-to-handle boy will stay alive the last few months until high school graduation—I want you to know you’re not alone and that things can get better.
Everything changed for me—and my sons—when I decided to rip down the guard from around my heart and life, and chose to fight for my hard-to-handle boys.
I’d love to share with you everything God taught me during that season of my life. Consider joining my Fight Like a Boymom program, along with hundreds of other moms like you. (The Fight Like a Boymom program is currently close for registration. Click here to get on the waitlist.)
What happened between the last time he latched well and the first time he didn’t? Vaccine? Sometimes difficult children aren’t born that way at all- sometimes they are responding to something.
My boys are 7 & 9 and I still have that “no visitors” sign on my heart. I feel like moms with girls or who don’t have only boys (like me) just don’t understand my boys and the way things work at our house. We homeschool, so that can be isolating even with a great support group.
Thank you for sharingt. I understand completely what you are talking about. I have 2 “high maintenance” boys that are 22 months apart and I hid us all for a very long time. They didn’t eat or sleep. And ran all day long. They are now 12 and 14 but every stage and phase is still fairly agonizing. I keep telling myself that at some point there must be something that will be easy. I felt like crying reading your paragraph about the No Visitors. It brings back so many memories.