Thursday, December 6, 2007

It Has A Name

It's called Stranger Anxiety. Duh. And she'd begun to show signs of it a few weeks before Thanksgiving. And at Thanksgiving, it was at its worst. She managed to finally get comfortable with Grandma and Grandpa, but it took a whiiiile.

So the concensus on the web is that you need to work through it, but not by ignoring her distress. In other words, have "strangers" (who may include the non-primary caregiver parent in extreme cases -- prepare for some self-bashing in a few minutes here) approach the baby slowly, offering toys and whatnot, but only after having been in her presence for a while. And let Mommy comfort while people approach.

It figures I've been doing it all wrong, doesn't it? It's not like my instinct wasn't to rush in, scoop her up, and calm her down, either. It's more like everyone telling me, "You've got to let her cry sometimes." And my mother-in-law, God love her, who will cling to the screaming baby and tell me with a smile, "Crying babies don't bother me at all."

And then I'm torn between wanting to comfort my baby and feeling like an idiot and feeling like a mean daughter-in-law who won't let her bond with her own granddaughter.

I'm about ready to lose hair over this. Honestly. It's like I can't trust my gut, but I have to trust my gut, and whoever decided I should be allowed to have a baby anyway? This is RIDICULOUS. I SUCK AT THIS.

I knew about stranger anxiety, in an abstract way. I had all these plans that I would socialize Kiki from Day One with all sorts of people all the time so when this stage hit, it would not be like this. But I didn't take her out enough, obviously. The best-laid plans and whatnot. And okay, everything I'm reading is telling me this is normal and natural and moreover necessary in her development of her sense of self, but it still feels like I'm fucking up somehow.

I keep apologizing to Kipp because I feel like I did this, somehow. He tells me his older kids did the same thing at Kiki's age, and that it passes, and it's okay and it's not my fault.

Still. It would KILL me if she had decided I was the stranger.

And from what I read, no more sessions like last night. Slow and patient, without alarming or distressing her. Which should make it easier for me as well, as selfish as that sounds.

Only one more day til Santa. Let's just focus on that for a bit.


YarnHacker K December 7, 2007 at 10:21 PM  

Honey, it's called stranger anxiety for a reason. No matter how much you socialized her, you couldn't introduce her to everyone in the world, right? Thus there will always be strangers in the world.

Not good enough for ya? (Of course not - what a weak argument from me, eh?) OK, second thing to consider. The fact that she's having stranger anxiety is a major and very important milestone for her and it's happening at exactly the expected time. Kiki recognizes who she recognizes and KNOWS when she doesn't know someone well enough to feel comfortable. The vast majority of babies go through this because they develop the ability to identify and recognize faces. Which is exactly what she's doing. At exactly the same time as all babies begin doing it.

Don't lose sight of the positives that this indicates. It's unpleasant in the moment because who wants to see their kid upset? But her anxiety is a huge outward sign of something major clicking for her. Go Kiki!!

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