No, I am not referring to my love of rock concerts here.
I am talking about my sweet AND not so sweet 18 month old toddler Grace, and her affinity to rock back and forth while banging her head on her crib slats. Yep, you read that right, we have a head banger in the house, and she is stressing this mama out.
Just looking for this picture makes me a bit sad. I almost forgot how sweet, soft, and cute this little mama once was…
Grace has been a topic of conversation between Chris and I more and more in the past few months. Right around 9 or 10 months we noticed that Grace would rock back and forth in her crib. Many babies do this when they are learning to crawl, it is a very normal stage of physical development. Well, long after she was crawling and even walking Gracie continued with her rocking habit. We would catch her down in the basement rocking back and forth into Bradley’s big bean bag chair, and in other weird places and moments around the house.
Right around her one year well visit I spoke with our amazing pediatrician about this weird rocking phenomenon. I have never had a child do it this much. Chris still insists that Bradley did it some in his crib (I don’t remember that….). The doctor told us to tell her to stop if we “caught” her doing it outside of the crib, but lots of babies body rock, head bang, and do lots of repetitive movements at night to comfort themselves or to fall asleep.
It seems that in the past few months the rocking has become more and more of a habit. Grace does it when she is falling asleep at night, right when she wakes up in the morning (until you get her up out of her crib), she does it in her sleep (I have thought she was up from a nap because I saw her rocking, only to come into her room and find her fast asleep), she does it in the middle of the night (Chris will be up late working and check the monitor at 11pm or 12am and see her rocking back and forth). The head banging is so loud, even though she is bumping the top of her forehead into the bumper on the crib, that you can hear it in the kitchen which is right below her room.
Bradley and Ellie would wake up in the morning or from a long nap and babble, talk, call for mama, play with their lovies in the bed, etc. The first thing Grace does when she wakes up is head bang and body rock.
It is really one of the most disturbing things to watch as a mom.
She now only does it outside of the crib if she is throwing a tantrum or gets in trouble. She was throwing a fit right before her afternoon nap, and I was warming up her milk in the microwave. Grace was crying and rolling around on the floor, found the wall, lined her self up and started banging her head into the WALL!!!!!!!!!!!
It is so upsetting to witness. Of course I ran right over to her and stopped her by picking her up and consoling her. I have done a lot of reading about body rocking and head banging in the past few weeks. Apparently it is extremely normal and up to 20% of babies do it at some point or another. Some children will do it until they are 2 or 3 years old (Lord, help me!!). They will do it to fall asleep, while they are sleeping, and when they are in their cribs. Many infants find the repetitive movement comforting and similar to being rocked in a rocking chair.
Unfortunately these aren’t our only concerns about this little one. She isn’t talking much. By that I mean she really doesn’t talk at all. She communicates extremely well with gestures, pointing, screaming, and a few signs (more, all done, and please). Grace probably has a total of 12 words, but doesn’t use them in her day to day life. She said the word “Hershey” our dogs name, for probably two months, long before her first birthday, but then we haven’t heard it since then. She consistently says, mama, dada, and night night. Many words have come and gone. This is so much different then our first two children as well.
We are in the process of doing a regimen of ear drops to try to clean out her ears (apparently they are extremely waxy). Then we are going to the doctor this week for a look to see if she has any fluid build up. It is my intuition that she cannot hear very well. She is REALLY REALLY loud. She can bring down the house with her screeching and crying. I get the feeling that she almost doesn’t hear herself or realize how loud she really is.
If her hearing seems to be alright we are going to move forward with some speech intervention this summer. The doctor insists that she is still well within the “normal” range for a toddler her age. But, some of these factors have me worried.
All of this has really come to a head in the past few weeks because of her frustration levels, her attachment to me, and her head banging during the night. We have had a few REALLY ROUGH nights with Grace in the past month. It started with the molars coming in, and Chris and I popping in at night to give her some Oragel or Tylenol. Then these episodes escalated and only I could get her back to sleep. Then if I left her in her bed, she would head bang to the point of exhaustion, screaming her lungs out (you really have never heard anything like it), and get herself so worked up that Chris and I were in tears too. I would have to get her out of bed, give her milk, or rock her to get her to stop head banging and body rocking.
I really feel like I am a “seasoned” mom. I have done this two times before. I have sleep trained babies and infants. I have two other kids will a full set of teeth that never did this much crying to get my attention. Gracie is so dominate and only wants me. It isn’t cute or endearing, at this point it is exhausting. Chris tries with her, but she doesn’t make it easy. She once cried so hard for a babysitter that she vomited her bottle all over her bedroom. The poor babysitter that watches her while I volunteer in Bradley’s classroom finally has a great relationship with her, but it has taken almost a year. The first time I left to go to his school I could hear her screaming from the road while I got into my car to leave. The screaming is on another level.
I guess I am writing all of this for a few different reasons.
One to vent. It has been a tough few months.
The second to remember. Hopefully when she is heading off to Kindergarten this will all be a distant memory.
Thirdly, I want to remember all this someday when my kids are older, or they are having their own children. Times with three are tough lately. It hasn’t been as hard as those first newborn days, but it hasn’t been easy either. I have been worried about her, concerned, and exhausted by her at the same time. My Dad was over helping one afternoon and it was a nut house while I was trying to get everyone down for nap. Kids were cranky and whining. I asked my Dad if he remembered my sister and I like this. He said, you just don’t remember, you forget a lot of it.
I don’t want to forget the hard parts. Motherhood is a journey. There are amazing moments and many times when I know I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life. But, there are also lows like everything. I question my abilities, my confidence wavers, my enjoyment for the day to day wans when times get tough. I know these hard parts make us cherish the good moments even more.
Right now, I am just hoping for a little less head banging and toddler screeching. And a little more peaceful sleeps with some happy toddler moments squeezed in during the day.
Mostly right now I am just saying a little prayer that all is well with Gracie and we will come out of this on the other side soon. Right now I am just one worried mama.