This is a really difficult post to write, in some ways because it churns up a lot of scary times for me emotionally but also because a lot of Boo’s symptoms weren’t easy to follow which in part is why it took so long to get help for her as we were dealing with things on a symptom by symptom basis. When we finally started looking at things as a whole we started to be able to get some answers.
My first recollection of starting to worry that something was wrong was when Boo was 6months old. Other babies I saw at baby groups were suddenly starting to coo and smile at their mummies, in very sharp contrast, Boo had started to ‘attack’ me. This sounds a bit extreme, I mean she’s a 6month old baby for goodness sakes but let me explain why I use such a strong term. Boo was very colicky so screamed and arched her back – a lot!! At 6 months she also started clawing at my face when she was cuddled and her favourite manoeuvre was the eye pinch, you know that soft bit under your eyes that we are supposed to slather in creams to keep us looking young? That bit in between two compressing baby nails equals excruciating pain. I sound like a right woos bag but I didn’t know what to do, my baby wouldn’t let go, my face was covered in scratches and gouges and this happened on a daily basis. I was depressed, I couldn’t figure out why my baby hated me (of course I now know this is simply because she was in pain) and I was scared there was something very wrong with my baby girl.
At the age of 18months everyone assured us we were getting the terrible twos early, the aggression Boo had shown as a baby showed no signs of letting up, I spent many days and nights trying different techniques to show her hurting me was wrong. Nothing really helped and as she grew the hitting, pinching and biting hurt more and more.
When Boo turned 20months the shit really hit the fan for us. It appeared our early onset of terrible twos had gone beserk. Boo was suddenly massively hyperactive, she would race from one end of the lounge to the other over and over until she dropped or we wrestled her to the ground for fear of her hurting herself. If you try telling people your toddler is hyperactive you can expect anything ranging from quizzical looks to outright mocking – of course toddlers are hyper! But this wasn’t right and we knew it, she went too far, she would spin and spin until her eyes rolled into her head and her whole body crashed to the floor, she would have spasms where her entire body from teeth to legs would clench up and shake uncontrollably, she would meltdown if there was mechanical noise like hand driers and toilets flushing – we had many an instance where she would kick and scream like she was being murdered in public toilets, so much so that I started leaving doors wide open so people could see I wasn’t hurting my child. She also seemed to have massive issues with walking up and down kerbs or stairs, I carried her a lot at this point because it would all get to much for her. Between this age and 2&1/2 her other less manageable behaviours really got to work.
Anxiety and OCD
The most problematic issues we had were her continual and worsening OCD symptoms. We all know kids love routines but if anything in hers was broken she couldn’t get over it. If anything in her room was moved even the tiniest amount we would have to make ‘just as it was’ before we could leave the room. Then there became the need to touch the taps 3 times after brushing her teeth and washing her hands, if we tried to stop this she would fight us (literally) to get back to the bathroom to do it. She was also crazy anxious. The most memorable occasion of this was when Hiccup had just been born and we went to a book shop on our high street. We went up in the lift and as it stopped Boo started getting really anxious and panicky about getting out and ‘what if she gets stuck by herself” no amount of talking to Boo ever helped – she was in a zone where her brain couldn’t hear you. As soon as the doors opened she fled the lift knocking over Hiccups pram. As I was frantically trying to pick up the pram, check Hiccup was okay and collect our belongings that had been flung around the shop, Boo sat rocking on the floor screaming. It was at this point I was convinced we had a problem, I just didn’t know what.