Thursday, October 14, 2010

Separation and Bedtime Woes...

I’ve struggled to know how to approach the topic of our most recent issues with Austin on here. Do I or do I not want to post? Will I or will I not be taken the way intended, or as one simply complaining about things that shouldn’t matter? Could there be any advice to be given to us that hasn’t already been tried over and again, failing each time? But, sometimes we do need to open up and “share” our concerns and our problems that we’re dealing with in parenting. And sometimes, someone else has been there and has just the right encouragement or new ideas needed to change the issues to good! That, dear friends, is exactly what I’m hoping for in telling you of our recent separation and bedtime woes with our sweet 2 yr old boy, Austin. Here goes nothing…bear with me as I explain our last several months’ woes…


SEPARATION ANXIETY…

Since around the same time we were moving, Austin started becoming very attached to me. But, with all of the changes our family was going through, we thought it was quite normal and would soon pass when routine returned to our lives. Unfortunately for us, the separation anxiety remained, even after predictable routine returned. Austin clings to me 24/7 almost daily…minus a few sporadic playtimes with his sister. I cannot shower, cook, clean, etc., without Austin either being attached to my hip or screaming in the floor below my feet. So, of course, if I try to take him to class (church, etc.), it’s the same, but worse… sometimes he cries and eventually gets “ok” for the time being…while other times, he never makes it past the screaming for Mommy. And always, even if I went only to take a quick bathroom break, I return to “Mommy, you’re home!! Hold me!” as soon as he sees me. When does the independent “I can do it myself” stage kick in?? I love being needed, but his attachment is beyond ridiculous at this point.

SLEEPING…

Since the sale of our home in Mobile, Austin started having issues going to sleep (especially at night, but also at nap). Before I go on, I will say Austin has always been a great sleeper…goes straight to bed, stays in bed, and sleeps all night in bed…without any sleep aids. Once we moved out of our house, Austin began requiring someone to be in his room with him to fall asleep. Initially, we assumed it was just due to the changes surrounding him…not being in his bed or room while we were staying with family in between our moving times, so assuming it was temporary, we did lie with him for 2-3 minutes to let him fall asleep. Weeks passed, and we settled into our new home, and his 2-3 minute not only continued, but got longer. Now, he cries when he thinks it’s anywhere near bedtime…and if you lie with him in hopes to “speed up” the bedtime process, his 2-3 minute time (originally) is now easily 20-30 minutes with consistent “Mommy” cries (to be sure you’re still there) every couple of minutes. It’s bad enough now that he can be snoring and will actually wake himself back up to make sure you’re there. Now, I know what you’re thinking…”they’ve spoiled him…he now just has a bad habit they have to break…etc.”…but we do NOT like having to stay with him to sleep for even 2-3 minutes, much less 20-30! We’ve been trying to alleviate this problem since Day 1. We’ve tried to comfort him and possible fears he may have by letting him have a nightlight…keeping his door cracked/opened…and offering music to fall asleep to. We make a big deal about him being a big boy, and spend lots of time explaining what we want him to do (sleep in his big boy bed, while we sleep in ours, etc.), and he agrees…until bedtime comes. We’ve tried crying it out quite a bit, and it seemed to help a little for a couple of nights, then it became even worse than before…

GAGGING

Both the separation anxiety and the sleeping issues are also directly related to his 3rd issue…gagging! He has a very sensitive gag reflex apparently. It can happen without warning when he stuffs too much food in his mouth…drinks something down the wrong way…gets too anxious/upset…cries. This problem makes dealing with our earlier two problems (separation anxiety & sleeping) even harder! When I take him somewhere (like church class, or another regular outing), before I am even out of sight, he’s anxious/upset enough and crying to the point of gagging and throwing up. This does not require prolonged crying or screaming…he goes from happy to gagging within seconds at times! And the same happens at bedtime, especially if we are attempting to let him cry for 5-10 minutes, then comfort, the cry for 5-10 minutes, then comfort (as suggested by BabyWise)…we only have so many toddler sheets he can gag on, ya know?

So, where do I go from here? What is “just a stage/phase” and “will pass”, and what parts will need to be “broken” to be fixed? Where’s the line? How do you know the difference between true anxieties that we could be making worse by leaving him when he needs us versus what is just him testing us to see if he can just get his way? I’m at a loss of ideas…patience…etc, and am praying that God would give us wisdom as we try to figure out how to best handle these issues. Have you been here before? What would you do if you were in my shoes?
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