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My little one is now 4 years old, he came home at 19 months and I can’t believe how much time has passed and how life has changed since then. 

One of the things that took me by surprise was his incredible ability to guide us in what he needs and how to create the mother to baby neural pathways that we didn’t have through experiences we hadn’t had together. When he’d been home a while we visited his foster parents who we’d formed a strong relationship with. We were incredibly nervous about what his reaction might be to going back to the only home he could remember before ours. As soon as we got out of the car he pointed to their door, showing us which house to go to and got more and more excited. When the door opened he pushed straight past his foster mum clambered up the stairs with us chasing after him, and straight to his old cot, pointing and saying to us ‘baby K, baby K’, showing us where he used to sleep. We put him in the cot and he helped us role play him being a baby again in the cot.

My mum got him a baby doll so he could maybe act out some of his baby needs with it. What we didn’t realise until he told us was that he wanted to be the baby, not using the therapeutic parenting games we’d been taught but literally enacting baby stages. 

He beckoned me into his bedroom one day and got into his bed saying ‘I’m the baby you’re the mummy’. Well yes, I thought I am! He taught me that what he wanted to do was snuggle in his bed, me leave the room and wait for him to make some gentle grisly noises and toss and turn, then come in and comfort him. We did this on repeat daily for a few weeks, the timing always led by him, then less and less until now, where he will still instigate about once a month. 

One day towards the end of his second year he saw someone breastfeed for the first time and was captivated. I explained what was happening and why, and that not all babies drink their milk this way, listing off all the people I know that hadn’t, including him. A couple of days later he asked if he could be baby K and suck my boobie. I should’ve seen it coming and prepped for it but I didn’t. I didn’t really know what was the ‘right’ thing to do and explained there was no milk in my boobies because he didn’t grow in my tummy but his birth mothers tummy. He kept asking and although I wasn’t sure how I felt about it I let him pretend to breastfeed with me. It sounds really odd and I definitely felt it’s not something all my friends and family would feel comfortable with, but it gave him what I believe he needed. This went on for some time. He got more and more comfortable making eye contact when it was happening, when it started he didn’t want me to look at him but wanted to stare intently at me. We were building the experiences he hadn’t had. After a few months I began to feel uncomfortable- he began to want the door shut and ask Daddy to not be around, which began to feel triggering for me, like we were doing something wrong or shameful. 

I called the social worker as I didn’t know what to do but didn’t feel I could support him in this way anymore. She gave me the confidence to ‘wean’ him off without feeling like I was somehow failing him and what he needed. I found new ways to give him more opportunities for deepening eye contact, rocking and physical closeness. 

For a while when coming out of the shower he would ask for a  cuddle, wanting the ‘skin to skin’ moments he’d never had with me. 

If we ever have a baby visiting, their dummy will be straight in his mouth and he’ll head up to bed and want me to sit next to him and stroke his head. Occasionally lifting him out of his bed and pretending to change his nappy. 

He’s  4 years old and I’m sure there will be more regression to come. It took a while to understand all the little things that were happening, and felt good when we did and could put a name to them as regression. Leaning into the sometimes uncomfortable and unexpected but also saying stop when it became too much.

 

 

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