About J and Our Journey from Tantrums to Therapy

Where should I even begin to tell you about my sweet boy? He was our “whoopsie” baby. Rylie was only 6 months old when I found out I was pregnant with him. I honestly wasn’t sure I could handle it, but somehow I did (barely).

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? The idea of having a C-Sections always scared the shit out of me so that was definitely not in my “birth plan”. But, I guess babies don’t always listen to your plans because J was breech and I did have to have a C-Section with him. It was scary and tough and made breastfeeding him impossible. While I was in the hospital, the nurses were dead set on the idea that all babies should be breastfed – which, dare I say, is BULLSHIT. It is hard enough caring for a newborn after giving birth and if you don’t feel like you are able to breastfeed then you should not feel that extra pressure. Yes, it is great and props to you if you are able to do it, but the added stress of feeling like you are failing from the beginning is probably one of the things that sent me into a downward spiral.

So after getting home and being thrown into being a mom of 2 kids under 2 years old, I definitely felt extreme love, happiness, and gratitude – but along with those feelings were moments of exhaustion, anger, resentment, and reminiscing about my old life. When J was a baby he was actually very good. He ate, slept, relaxed, and didn’t cry all that much. Then when he turned 4 months things took a turn. He started crying, whining, not sleeping, and it would just make my head spin every day. It was so hard to deal with a baby who cannot tell you what they need or want.

Honestly, the whole first 3 years of J’s life is a blur to me. What I remember is a lot of whining, crying, throwing tantrums, and neither J nor I being able to control our emotions. I remember bringing it up to the pediatrician and he said “J is 3 years old – this is normal” & “he’ll grow out of it”. So when year 4 rolled around, I was completely fed up. J threw tantrums on a daily basis and they were completely uncontrollable and there was nothing I could do to help calm him down. So when his school offered a free evaluation for Occupational Therapy, I jumped at the chance. After a phone session with the OT, she said she thought he may be suffering from some sensory issues and she did recommend an appointment. Upon further evaluation, she suggested that behavioral therapy may be more of what we need. If I am being honest, I felt like a failure as a mom. Isn’t a mom supposed to just know what her babies need? Why couldn’t I figure out a way to help him on my own? But after being open about our struggles with my family members, I was reminded that asking for help actually is what makes me a GOOD mom. If I let this go on any longer without getting help we would all continue to struggle and suffer, but if I took action (even though it was hard) I knew we could get through this tough period.

So my OT did recommend a behavioral therapist who J & I started seeing on a weekly basis. Now I will say that we began seeing the therapist after I started antidepressants, so there were definitely a few factors that were in play to help us overcome J’s issues. I can’t say for sure that the therapy was solely responsible for eliminating his tantrums, but I can confidently say that it definitely gave me some tools that I needed to help him figure out how to handle his emotions. J is very into being told what to do – so I began making him a schedule every day so he never has a chance to be confused about what is expected of him. He also likes to be helpful, so I try to let him help around the house as much as possible. The last thing the therapist helped me realize is that J is a very visual little boy – meaning that he likes to see what he is accomplishing. For example, during one of our sessions we made a a craft where he would get to put hearts on the craft every time he was kind or did something nice for someone. He really thrived when we rewarded him for his good behavior. These simple changes I made to our daily life has really helped us all.

I am thrilled to say that J has come completely full circle in a few short months. Before we made all of these changes, I truly felt like there was no hope and that he would just grow up throwing these fits and it was just something that we had to live with. Little did I know, making some small, but important changes and asking for help when we needed it most made all the difference for us. I am so beyond proud of my little boy and how much effort he has been putting in with using his “kind words” and doing sweet things for everyone around him. We are able to clearly communicate his feelings now so he doesn’t get to the point of throwing a fit because if he’s upset he is able to tell me “mom I am getting angry right now” and I can sit with him and talk about why he is angry and what would make him feel better. I am so confident in his future and I know he is going to thrive in anything he chooses to do.

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