If you have not yet read Part 1, please click here to read it.
Part 2 – To eat or not to eat, sleepless nights and tantrums
Out of all the children, I breastfed Maleah for the shortest amount of time and her failure to thrive was a lot more obvious. I remember the specialist visit when they weighed her and she had put on something like 200g in 6 weeks. I had had similar with the others, and Paul n I had agreed that as soon as we got to the stage where they weren’t gaining weight, we would put them onto formula. This was that moment. I still remember the satisfying suck on the bottle. the immediate settledness and deeper sleeps. As Maleah grew older she loved her comforts. – her dummy to sleep, her milk bottles to settle. It seemed as though certain clothes irritated her.
When we came to transition her on to solids she was a very picky eater – but it was the textures she was fussy about. Chunky food, rough textures were often outright refused. It was nothing to have to hold her mouth open and force food in, and many times, to reduce the tantrums that would follow, would give her a bottle of milk.
Her night sleeps with the dummy were getting more unsettled and getting up to find her dummy, give it back to her only to have it lost again were getting tiresome. So we took the dummy off her and the same patterns would follow. Some nights when she would wake she would scream her agony cry sometimes for up to an hour, other times she was so happy and would wake to walk around the house, play with toys, get a drink and then put herself to sleep. If we tried to settle her loooong tantrum episodes would follow.
At this point I was struggling to be a happy Mum with her. Being continually sleep deprived and not appearing to make any progress, is not a good recipe for growing in relationship with your child. And I didn’t. She loved Paul. She responded to him way quicker than what she would with me. She loved firm, tight cuddles, and firm, tight discipline.
From when we took the dummy off her to when she was about 4 we probably had a handful of nights that she slept through, and we had 2 more babies after her.
My attitude as a mother towards her, dived to depths I never thought I was capable of. God’s grace truly sustained me. Disciplining her became more and more difficult and it just seemed to make her more stubborn, calculated and generally unsettled. It was nothing for her to have tantrums for 1 – 1 1/2 hours – violent, aggressive, almost demon possessed fits. It’s hard to describe but these were somehow different to normal tantrums we had encountered before. (This statement would later land me with a response along these lines from a health nurse, “Not all children are the same, she’s just the middle child, what you need to do is just ignore her – pick up the rest of the children and remove them from wherever she is having a tantrum.”
I could not hold her, I could not distract her, when she was in full swing, I could only put her in her room and hold the door shut until the tornado had passed. And as abruptly as it had started –
Usually with these words, “I’m sorry for my disgusting behaviour, can you please forgive me?” And I would hold her and cry – begging God to help me survive with sanity, and begging for wisdom and the ability to like her.