Monday, June 17, 2013

The Wonder Weeks

Life saver! Plain and simple.  This is the most useful and instructive book I've read so far.  I only wish that I had heard of it earlier, it would have saved me from the Day of Hell.
Allow me to share with you my single worst day of my child's life.
Hubby stayed home with me for the first 2 weeks of my maternity leave.  He had to return to work when T man was 2w3d old leaving me home all alone.  That first week home alone was good, nothing too exciting happened.  The following week we actually got out of the house at least once each day Mon-Thur.  I decided on that Friday (he was 4wk exactly), since we had such a busy week, we would stay in and have a lazy day at home.  The morning started out normal enough, but as the day wore on T man became increasingly irritable.  It seemed that nothing I did was right and everything was just pissing him off.  After his afternoon nap things went from bad to atomic!  He started screaming and SCREAMING!!! I tried everything that I could think of, absolutely nothing worked.  Nothing! I changed his diaper 15  times (i didn't know what else to do!) I tried nursing him (He said - oh hell no) I changed his clothes, I tried burping him (again and again) I even tried leaving him alone in his bed (like I said, i was desperate) I was at my complete wits end, desperate for him to just ... shut ... UP! 
AHHHHH!!!!! >:-{
After 2 exhausting hours of his mouth never closing, he finally passed out from sheer exhaustion.  It was right after this that my mom just happened to stop by on her way home from work.  What she found was me, blubbering & sobbing, cowering on the sofa, desperately trying to not wake up the sleeping creature that was in my arms.  I say creature, because that was NOT my baby!  I don't know what that thing was, but he was sooooo not my sweet little T man.
Day from Hell =(
So, what is in this book that could have saved me?  Plenty.  mostly, just having the basic understanding of WHY the tantrum happened would have eased a lot of my panic & frustration.  Like I've said before, knowledge is power, and at that time I had no knowledge of what my baby was going through.  Everyone knows that babies go through physical growth spurts but we never think about the mental growth spurts that are happening.  Because we can't measure it on a scale or with a measuring tape, we don't realize the enormous mental changes our babes live with.
The Wonder Weeks explains when and how theses changes are going to affect a baby with almost prefect accuracy.  Let me try to explain it a little.
You have to start with your babies original due date.  This is because your baby's brain began to develop from the moment he was conceived, not from the time of birth.  And remember,  this is a study on mental growth.  So if your baby was a preemie he's going to be "behind" in the chart vs a baby who was born a week late (Mr T man) who will appear a week ahead on the chart.
Following the graph provided, you can monitor your baby's brain development and anticipate when, and for how long, he's going to be "difficult". 
Just like the physical pains that children experience during growth spurts (growing pains) a baby will experience mental stress and increased anxiety during a Leap (as they call it). 
Just imagine waking up one morning,  discovering you've gone completely blind.  First thing you'd do, would be to panic, but, eventually you would adjust.  A baby's first leap is the reverse of that.  He goes from having extremely limited eye sight (only a few inches from his face) to being able to see most of the world around him.  His little brain now has to relearn everything he thought he knew.  The world he was living in is gone and now he's got a whole new world to see and explore.  Sounds fun, but for him it's the first stressful Leap in a long series of Leaps to come. 
This first leap occurs at (approx) 5 weeks old.  (Remember, T man was born exactly 1 week late) so on that fateful day when he turned 4 weeks old and we lived through our day of Hell, we were actually surviving our first Wonder Leap.  Thankfully that first Leap is a relatively short one, only about a week or so. 
I'm not proud to admit it, but I need to be honest with you guys.  I was an angry, resentful mother at times during those few weeks that followed.  I could blame it on postpartum hormones, which is partly true, but mostly I just felt that my baby was being a mean little jerk.  And what's worse, he was doing it on purpose!! The nerve of this guy! =/ Of course that's not true, but like I said, I had no knowledge at this time.  When I discovered The Wonder Weeks around 7 weeks old, it was light having a huge weight removed from my shoulders and my heart.  My baby didn't hate me, he was just trying desperately to process all this information that he didn't understand! 
I'm happy to say that, although it hasn't been all rainbows and butterfly kisses, I haven't allowed myself to become angry or resentful towards my infant son.  If he starts to work on my nerves, I check my Wonder Weeks app to see where he is on the chart.  A lot of the times, I'll find that he is going through a Leap.  Knowing that, I can help ease him through the transition so everyday life is easier for the whole family.  If he's in between Leaps, then we work together to figure out what is stressing him out, and then we work through that as well.

(The Wonder Weeks chart pictured below)
Here is a screen shot of my app showing where my son is at in his Leaps as well as 2 of our friends. (I'm tracking the babies for their mom's)  T man is currently in Leap 6 the "Leap of Categories"  He is discovering now that not all things that look the same are the same.  For example, a black & white cat is different from a black & white cow.  He will begin to study objects, compare them to each other & determine how they relate to each other. 

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