Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Separation Anxiety

A couple of weeks ago, Little Spanish Pinay seems to have entered separation anxiety period. She's constantly looking for me. When I was out for a few while and be back, she'd suddenly cry like as if she's the poorest baby on earth. It's as if I was away for months.  She'd be practically all over me. Every nursing time is like the first nursing time after so many days. As if she was starved for weeks! She'd greedily grasp La Boobie and gobble up my milk with full of anxiousness and ahrm ahrm noise. It's funny really. Sometimes it's also painful as she'd carelessly bite me and/or pinch El Nipple becuase of too much grabbing. She's like literally milking me with her hand. Crazy, I tell you!  She's also demanding more feeding time at night... or just want to be held and have Las Boobies near her mouth.

mami, don't leave me...

What I am liking (and I don't mind getting used to) about this separation anxiety thing is that she's even more affectionate to me. I always get big hugs and wet kisses from her. Her eyes glow everytime she sees me. Those eyes remind me of hubby's.  From the first time we met until now that we're going for a 4yrs being married.  I have a husband and daugther that adores me.  A luxury, I'd say.  I can't even start to imagine what I did so great to be adored by these two beautiful persons.  Ok, I got carried away a little bit there... so going back...

What is this separation anxiety for babies really? According to Dr. William Sears:
"In babies' minds, Mother is a part of themselves and they are part of Mother. Mother and baby are one, a complete package. These babies feel anxious and frightened when not with Mother. These emotions are normal feelings inside a little person who knows he needs the presence of his mother to thrive and to feel complete."

Separation anxiety is when the baby realises the mom is a separate being. This normally occurs at around 7-12 months of age. At this period, babies do not understand the fact that although something is not seen, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. So moms are out of their sight, they think that they are totally gone, and thus the fear and stress they feel of being separated from the only person that can make them complete.

This is a very normal behavior and in fact part of a very important emotional development process. Separation anxiety is part of normal child development and is actually something positive ::although the clinginess of the baby can drain one's energy:: This shows that the baby has a healthy attachment to the mom. As Dr Sears puts it, "Loud separation protests reveal a capacity for forming deep attachments - if they didn't care deeply, they wouldn't fuss so loudly when separated. This capacity is the forerunner of intimacy in adult relationships."

So it seems we are already in this phase. Little Spanish Pinay would suddenly seek for me even she's being held by his father whom she adores a lot. She'd cry for me and would utter ma-ma ma-ma nonstop. She's too darn cute when she does that. And her father would act all jealous because LSP contantly calls for my arms.

It can be overwhelming.  Not because I have to be with her all the time, no.  I love every minute that I am with her but what's overwhelming is the thought that I can't be with her as much as I want and do other chores at the same time.  I try no to worry about the household chores but sometimes, it just can't be helped.  Not to mention that I still have a full-time work that is equally demanding.  But as I've said, as long as she is happy, the rest is secondary... so help me repeat the chant... as long as she is happy, the rest is secondary...

I've attended to each of her demands and needs of being held and attended and nursed. As much as I can.  I tried to tell her in actions and in words that the phase she's undergoing right now is normal, that there's nothing to worry about and that mami will be with her all the way through. 

This week, I notice that she's getting passed this separation anxiety period.  She's spending more and more time playing and willing to be with someone else other than me.  Last Wednesday, for the first time since her first month, we left her for a couple of hours with her abuelos (grandparents).  Hubby and I went for grocery shopping and when we went back to pick her up, she was happily playing with her abuela.  She almost didn't notice me going inside the living room.  When she finally saw me, she smiled with the sweetest, sincerest happiness.  Yesterday, we left her again in the care of my mother-in-law and when we arrived back from our errands, she was seated on top of the dining table and I slowly sat in a chair beside her.  When she noticed me, she smiled as if saying "Hi there, mami!" and contined playing with some keys her abuela gave her.  She looked so grown up to me!  Silly me, I got watery eyes.

Maybe the separation anxiety will be back or perhaps it'll be a different type of anxiety.  Experts on attachement pareting say that everytime a baby crosses over an important phase of their development or learn something important (such as crawling, standing on their own, walking, teething, etc), they can get clingy and/or demand more feedings at night.  So everytime they go through these, the least we can do is let them meet their needs.  As soon as their needs are met, the sooner they'd overcome their anxieties.

And that's what hubby and I intend to do. 

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