Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fidgety Baby Growing Up

My daughter was a very fidgety baby. More fidgety than any other baby I knew through all my years of babysitting, being an aunt and having friends and family with babies. So fidgety that I wondered if something was wrong, if there was an underlying reason for her fidgetiness.

There really wasn’t anything wrong. As far as I can tell, she simply has a LOT of energy in her body. Her father is the same way. Londo is full of energy and has always been a fidgeter. And me? I can’t sit in one position for a long period of time. I don’t really fidget so much as I shift positions periodically, and I don’t think I ever simply sit normal, facing forward with both feet on the ground when I’m in a chair. In fact, sitting normal sounds like torture to me.

But three years ago, when the Pumpkin was a few months old and through her babyhood, I didn’t know why she was fidgeting so much. When I would nurse her, when we’d be rocking her to sleep, when we would try to hold her calmly, when we’d be lying in bed with her to get her to sleep, she would flail her arms and legs, move her hands and fingers relentlessly, twist and twirl my hair, move constantly, constantly. Sometimes the movements were more flailing than fidgeting. Sometimes it was little but intense movements like twisting her fingers in my hair.

I wondered why and if it was normal. I googled, but found no real information that helped me, and no one else wrote about their baby fidgeting at the time. I asked the doctor, and pretty much came to the conclusion that some babies just fidget. The way that some kids, teenagers, adults, people just fidget.

Yet over the years, I’ve wondered. I’ve wondered about other people with fidgety babies, because thanks to the many, many hits to my site from search engines on the internet, I know that there have been a lot of other people searching about fidgety babies, just as I once did. And I think of all those other people and their fidgety babies, and I wonder if those babies are/were like my girl in other ways. I wonder if those kids continued fidgeting through toddlerhood, like my girl did. Did those kids have so so SO much trouble calming their bodies down to go to sleep or even just sit still, like my girl did/does? I wonder if those kids were later on the curve for developing self-soothing skills. I wonder if those kids were earlier on the curve for developing motor skills, gross and fine. I wonder if those other kids are as energetic and highly active as my pre-schooler.

There are some comments on my posts about my fidgety baby in which people have said that perhaps my child didn’t fidget they way theirs did, that it didn’t sound as severe or as constant or, I don’t know, as MUCH as their did. I believe she probably did, although I haven't seen these other peoples kids so I can't compare for sure. I totally understand the sentiment, the questioning. Like it says the Raising Your Spirited Child book that I often mention: sure most kids are energetic or all 2 or 3 year olds are stubborn persistent, but spirited kids are just MORE. And that’s what it is like with the fidgeting.

My boy, who is now 14 months old, also fidgets some. An average amount. An expected amount, I would even say. I might have once thought, “Gee, this baby sure can be fidgety.” But I would have just been slightly irritated during the worst of the fidgets, and moved on in my thinking. After having a truly Fidgety Baby, I know that his fidgeting is nothing. All babies fidget. But some fidget more. And some babies fidget WAY MORE!

So I wonder about those other kids, those other fidgety babies. Did they learn to crawl early, walk early, climb early? At age 18 months, did their parents move them into a big kid bed to try and make the bedtimes and nights easier? As 1 year olds, did they spent hours in and out of their beds, walking circles around their parents, as their parents fell asleep in their beds, as they kept walking, walking, climbing, climbing? At age 2, did their physical skills match those a year older than them, except the skills needed to sit still for any length of time? As a 2 year old, did they simply stop napping and have trouble even resting at nap time? At age 3, did they need excuses to get out of their chairs at meal times because they simply could not sit still for the whole meal? Are those children also spirited or simply high-energy kids?

Because my fidgety baby did all those things. My little, fidgety girl has great physical skills, and more energy than I thought possible in a human! My girl keeps moving and figuring out how to do things with her body that many kids a year or even two years older than her cannot do. At 4 or 5 months, she was crawling. At 10 or 11 months, she was walking. At 1 year, she was throwing and catching balls relatively accurately. At 18 months, she was sleeping (when we’d finally get her to sleep) in a big girl bed and coming into our room by herself when she’d wake up in the middle of the night, turning the knobs to the doors with ease and climbing into our bed with no problems. At 2 years, she was running and dribbling a soccer ball while she ran. At 3 years, she is already hitting balls off the t-ball set.

I think that all that fidgety energy drives her to do things with her body. She needs to channel that energy and activeness, and it’s up to us as her parents to find ways for her to do that. It’s also up to us to help her learn to calm her body down and to listen, through all the impulses, to the signals that her body is giving her. It’s not easy, for her or us. But the skills we help her learn to handle all her energy and impulses and plain fidgetiness will be so important for her to channel that drive into accomplishments as an older kid, a teen and an adult.

I don’t know if my daughter is a typical example of a child who was a Fidgety Baby. I don’t have any clue how other Fidgety Babies have developed. I wish I did, because I love to learn about development patterns in general, and I love to hear about other kids who might be similar in certain ways to my girl. But what I do know is how my daughter as developed and how amazing she is in so many ways.

My daughter went from being a Fidgety Baby to being a Highly-Active Toddler to being a High-Energy Pre-Schooler. And from here, we’ll see what kind of school kid, pre-teen, teenager and adult she will be. I have a feeling it will continue to be really fun to watch her grow!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Question of the Week - Ready or Not...

I had a different question for this week, but I'm going to have to push it to next week. Cause something happened this morning. Something I wasn't ready for.

The Pookie has pretty much stopped nursing. And I'm super emotional about this. Even though I thought I was close to ready, I'm still so sad and don't feel ready. Even though we were down to nursing in the mornings at wake up and at bedtime, I was (mostly) enjoying those times. Even though I had been planning to wean him by next month so I could start medication for this winter for my SAD, I thought I had another month.

Over the last couple of weeks, he's been been trying to do gymnastics in my lap while nursing at night. That has been frustrating and uncomfortable, but he was still mostly settling down to nurse at least for a little while. But not so the last few nights. Instead, his gymnastics had turned into playing games (kissing-instead-of-nursing games! snuggling-while-hiding-his-face games! catch-him-before-he-dives-over-the-arm-of-the-chair games!) and squirming off my lap to play on the floor. After 5 or 10 minutes of playing on the floor, I was able to pick him back up and rock him or walk with him, but he was not interested in nursing! [sob!] And last night? He nursed for maybe 2 minutes, and that was it. He was done.

So I did see it coming. I figured he was ready to stop nursing at night. We'd just nurse in the mornings for the next month. At least we'd have that.

WRONG! This morning? Two sips, which I doubt were even sips since I don't think the milk had even come down yet. And then he was squirming, cause what was the dog doing? Did he hear the Pumpkin? Was that Daddy? What were they doing? What's going on? Move out of my way, Mommy, and stop holding me back!

I thought briefly about pushing the issue. I could have closed the door, turned on the humidifier for white noise, held him in place, but it really wasn't likely that any of that would have helped. So I called in Londo and told him, "I think we are done nursing."

Yes, there was a catch in my voice. Londo knew immediately exactly what was happening and how I felt about it. (He's good like that.) And in addition to the sympathy, Londo pointed out that it was baby-led weaning in action. The baby was ready to stop, and it was better to let it happen naturally now then to have to make it an issue and possible fight in a month.

So that's it. We are done nursing. I am sad, but I am also proud. We nursed for 14 months! It was very tough at times, easy at others, but it was always extremely special. I may not have felt quite ready, but I'm not sure I would ever feel quite ready.

And I have to say this and put this out there: I'm especially sad because if we don't have another baby, then I'm completely done with that aspect of parenthood and my life. That's hard.

So this week's question of the week is:

What did your kid(s) do before you were ready?

For the Pumpkin, it was definitely her physical capabilities. Every time we thought something was baby-proofed, up high enough, not interesting, locked securely, in a child-proofed container, she was able to get into it, reach it, climb it, etc. She was just always so ahead of what we were ready for, especially with her gross motor skills and her height! Not to mention her instinctive ability to figure stuff out. Can't reach the item she shouldn't have that was placed on a high counter? Then she'd just figure out how to pull up a chair to get it.

For 2 years now, we've had to put things on top of the fridge to really keep it away from her! And the only reason she can't open our baby gates is because we splurged for ones that required more hand strength than a child (even our child) has!

What about your kid(s)? What have they been able to do that you weren't expecting? What did they stop doing before you wanted them to? What are they doing whether or not you are ready for it?