Monday, 6 August 2012

N - Need Help

I didn't set this blog up to give advice, just to share my experiences.

I am really fortunate; I have an excellent support network, I have my  fiance, my mum and sister round the corner, my parents in law at the end of the phone, ex-colleagues who have kids, new mum-friends from playgroups... I am really lucky, I have a lot of people around me,

So I set up this blog, to share my parenting stories, help others who may not have the same support. Because it's not advice that you want to hear, just experiences, as sometimes someone else is going through the same as you.

But for the first time, my support network can't help me. Together we are stumped.

So I am asking you, followers, Internet friends, twitterers and fellow parents to read, share and offer any advice you have.

In February my middle child (who is about to turn 3) had his tonsils and adenoids removed and grommets put it. This is a really heavy op for a 2 and a half year old to have. I only recently understood how heavy when different specialists  told me this op is something surgeons will hold off undertaking for as long as possible.

In our case, the specialist examined Jonty and then booked him in for the earliest operating appointment he could get; things must have been bad.

Only looking back I realise that they were.

He had suffered from chronic nose infections since he was born, he snored as loud as a grown man, suffered from sleep apnoea and was constantly tired and irritable, plagued by nose and ear infections.

The illness was bearable, but it was the way it was affecting his development and personality that broke our hearts.

Although we had flagged this up with Doctors since he was born and been told "babies are mucus-y", it was only when I had shared my concerns about his speech and hearing that they referred us to a specialist. The hearing test showed he wasn't localising any of the lower volumes, we couldn't get a percentage of his hearing loss as he completely flipped when they tried to put headphones on him, but the department's reactions showed us this was not good.

Afterwards, the surgeon who operated on him said his tonsils and adenoids were enormous, quite possibly the biggest he had seen.

Pre-operation his speech had lacked progression, he was still only using the handful of words he had formed a year earlier and the rest of his noises were undecipherable baby language. He had found ways to communicate, but he had never said "Mama", didn't attempt to craete a word for his brother and was frustrated that the world couldn't undertsand him. So he bagan to shut us out.

We had slowly watched him turn from a smiling bubbly baby to a shy, introverted toddler. He would remove himself from social situations, isolate himself at play groups, and was reluctant to interact with his grandparents or aunites and uncles.If visitors came to the house, including our family, he would take himself off upstairs. Shutting the door.

Post - operation we have slowly seen him return. A new day brings new words. He is confident, sometimes to the point of cockiness, and at my brother's wedding a few weeks back  he was the life and soul of the party. He couldn't get enough of socialising.

I can't tell you how good this has been. The interaction, the moments, hearing him say my name, reading a book together, laughing and giggling over words, sounds; enjoying together the world around him.

Things are good; everything is falling into place.

Apart from one thing...

In December (2 months before Jonty's op) I gave birth to my third son Leo. He is a wonderful baby. He rarely cries, pretty much slept for the first 3 months and is always smiling.

However,now he is 7 and half months and become quite vocal, The usual stuff: teething noises, babbling, exploring sounds and he does have quite a loud cry if something startles him.

Last month Jonty started whimpering when Leo cried. And if we were somewhere where I couldn't comfort Leo or Jonty, like pushing them in a buggy on the school run, or driving in a car, this whimpering would turn to a full-scale tantrum where Jonty became hysterical, inconsolable and distressed.

This has now escalated so when Leo makes any noise at all, a babble, laugh or a yawn, Jonty screams, wails or shouts.

I was hoping when the holidays came, with my partner being off and two of us on hand, this would be ok, but things are getting worse.

And it's wearing us all down. If you have any advice, please share it with me. He has come so far and is doing so well it's heart breaking to see him so traumatised by his own brother's voice.

So here's some more info:
  • Jonty doesn't like it when any child cries, his older brother, or some one at play group hurting themselves will reduce himto sobs.
  • No other noises seem to effect him , but when we were watching a live swing band the other day he covered his ears
  • Jonty has never interacted with the baby, generally he isquite wary of him.
  • When I had Leo and Jonty came to hospital to see me, he caught sight of his brother and buried his head in his dad's shoulder and wept.
  • Jonty's speech is improving, but he you can't reason or explain yet... he is still learning to follow simple instructions and interpret sounds

This is what we have tried:
  • Reassurance, lots of cuddles and comfort when he cries
  • Possitive association, encouraging Jonty to play with Leo.
  • (not ideal, only in desperation) Separating them different rooms, different floors
  • Sending Jonty upstairs to his room to play when he does it
  • Reasoning
  • Talking
  • Calming
  • Shouting (when pushed to it)

Please help, offer advice, or share this blog to see if anyone you know has been in a similar situation.

This is the only part of my parenting where I have thought "I can't do this" and that really isn't a nice feeling, if it wasn't for this one thing, life would be perfect. I know I am very fortunate to be able to say that, but I do need some help with this bit...

Thank you x x


  1. I don't have an experience anywhere near yours to yours but I do know that when K started to speak, make noises, chatter and babble, sometimes T (who was about 2 ish at the time) would shout over her in an effort to ensure he was heard.
    Sometimes he would cry too as he knew that he'd get some attention while we were gazing in marvel at my daughter saying 'Star.'
    I hope it works itself out for you all. You sound like you're doing all the right things in my opinion, supporting your children through all these changes and I wish you the very best of luck.
    I'm sure it will work out soon but if you do have any fears then chat them over with your GP or with Leo's health visitor when you next see them.
    Good luck.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I have an appointment with health visitor coming up I think so will go over things with her and we see the specialist in December to review things, but hopefully things will be better then x x

  2. I don't have experience to share, but I agree you seem to be doing all the right things and hope that it will get easier soon as your son adjusts. The only practical thing I can remember is that a friend who had grommets when younger has always found loud noise very difficult as she still struggles to differentiate foreground and background noise. As a toddler, I imagine the combination of new sounds, new baby and the general speed of learning at that age must be overwhelming at times especially with it all happening in such a short timescale. Hope you are able to find the support you need to get to the other side.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! Your wise words make sense, he must be quite overwhelmed by it all!

  3. You've all obviously been through a lot together & Jonty must be finding adjusting to all this new stuff difficult. While I haven't got any experience like yours with health difficulties, I do have an 8 months old daughter & a 4 year old daughter. My eldest loves her little sister to bits but still, naturally can get jealous & has recently started being really sensitive, crying & tantrums & this has mainly started since our littlest has been mobile & vocal. They share a room & when the littlest cries & wakes so does the eldest - to a point where she is beside herself & I have to send her to a different room - for seemingly no reason, but I have no doubt it is associated with her little sister getting attention for these things & even though I try to reason with her she doens't yet completely understand & so I've come to the decision that though it's frustrating we will just have to ride it out. I know this is fairly unhelpful to you but I hope it's some comfort that others have experienced similar & that you are obviously doing a brilliant job with your boys & to try not to feel bad. As for now you could keep trying all the things you have been so far, keeping being consistent & hoping for the best. Utilise your support network so that it's not always you who has to deal with this, I know how exhausting it can be even at the best of times. Take good care & let us know how you get on x

    1. No, it's not unhelpful at all. The exact opposite; helpful, reassuring and comforting. I think i can do everything you've said but be consistent - that is my downfall in all areas, but I will try! Thank you for reading and your kind words!

  4. How is his hearing now? My niece is profoundly deaf in both ears, but she wears one aid in her right ear. She can hear a weird variety of things, but can't understand speech. For example she might hear the dishwasher and think I said something. Her hearing is even sporadic and sometimes she won't hear a loud noise like she normally would.

    One thing she can almost always hear (though not understand what she says) is her little sister's voice. In fact her sister's voice will sometimes hurt her ears and annoy her and she will turn off her aid. My niece that is deaf is 15 and her sister is 7. This has been going on since her sister was born. She has always looked after her sister and would hear her cries etc better than anything.

    I recommend having him checked out thoroughly by an audiologist...since he had some hearing loss before. He could have some nerve damage in ear and a certain frequency really does hurt him. Deaf and hard of hearing are known to be more attuned to their family.

    You sound like you are taking great care of them. Ear/Hearing damage can be very tricky and hard to catch with a simple hearing test.
    Take care,

    1. We have had one hearing test and there was a dramatic imrpovement, but couldn't do the age appropriate test to get a percentage so go back in December. What you have said is really interesting and I am going to ask all about this when we next see the specialist. Thank you x

    2. P.s I never knew about the family thing or the nerve damge, so that is really helpful. Once again, thanks do much for commenting x

  5. It sounds as if you're doing all the right things. Assuming his hearing is normal and he only reacts like this when it's his brother, and not other babies then treating like any other unacceptable behaviour seems reasonable; naughty step etc. he's had a very eventful year so not surprising. Have you tried star charts for good behaviour eg if he stays calm when baby cries, he gets a stat. He's allowed to leave the room or cover his ears - maybe his own special ear muffs? Ipad not letting me edit , sorry about typos! Can big bro help? Distract him when you need to attend to baby? May need rewards too!
    Count stuff off twitter

  6. Lots of good advice. Definitely needs hearing rechecked I think. Whatever the causes of the behaviour are I really don't think it's 'unacceptable behaviour' at all. I don't think Jonty's making a choice here but obviously it's not the behaviour any of you want! His brother will be a permanent fixture so he really needs to learn to adopt coping strategies. I am sure you are doing brilliantly - don't beat yourself up over it! Bugger consistency if it doesn't feel right, trust your intuition as their Mammy xxx Jaene

  7. Hi, again no direct experience though I did have my tonsils out at an age similar to Jonty's, I would venture completely amateurishly that there are physical and emotional things happening here. I would definitely get his ears checked as shortly after I had my tonsils out I had a drainage issue with my right ear and now am 50% deaf in it. It doesn't hurt though. Also, of course, ALL that attention on him to be taken from new baby is natural and he's milking it hard, but not only milking it, he may really need some special bonding time with him as well as making sure he's actually not in pain from crying or loud noises. So sorry you're all going through this and hope there is some improvement soon. By the way, there will be. It will not always be like this but it is clearly very stressful now. x

    1. Really helpful comment - thank you so much for stopping by and for your encouraging words x x

  8. Hope things are improving as I'm Kate reading this! My son had grommets in age 6, and I still remember his reaction the first day back in class to the noise level that he perceived as huge (thou in reality was no different to pre-op)
    His perception of different noise levels was amazing but was twice the age of your DS! Hopefully in time he will get used to it, but my advice would be to go back to GP or consultant, and ask for another hearing test or at the least for their advice! They are the experts and will probably have experience in this area! Best of luck...

    1. Thank you for stopping by and kind words. Things are improving... thank goodness, we've really turned a corner, need to write an update to fill you all in!