Justin had a habit of getting up on his hands and knees in his crib, crawling as fast as he could to the end of the headboard, and ramming his head into it. He’d do this over and over again. I never could figure out why he did it unless it was somehow to comfort himself. I know that seems like a strange thing to say but maybe it validated to him that he was alive.
When Justin was fifteen months old a wonderful thing happened. He started cutting teeth. It was later than our other kids had started teething but his gums swelled, both top and bottom. It was obvious several teeth were coming at the same time. Poor little Justin was miserable but wanted to be left alone in his misery. The kids went into overdrive trying to keep him busy thinking of other things during the days. Finally, one night he could no longer stand the misery by himself.
Justin’s crib was just in the next room. It was a very quiet evening. Everyone was sleeping. I heard a faint whimpering coming from Justin’s bed. I went to him. His eyes were swollen from crying. He was patting his mouth and saying, ”Mama” over and over. I think he was asking me to fix his hurt. I took him downstairs to the kitchen. I gave him some baby aspirin and rubbed his gums with Orajel.
I turned the TV on and the lights off. I held him in the big rocking chair. I laid Justin on my chest, covered us with a blanket, and began rocking and singing very softly. It was extremely difficult to do this and still not hug but I kept my arms just on the blankets so he wouldn’t feel confined.
After about an hour I think the pain began to lift a bit. Justin rolled a little on his side so he could see my face. He took my hand from the blanket and put it on his leg. He turned more toward me causing my hand to move onto his back. I wasn’t sure if this was an accident or not but I took the opportunity to gently start rubbing his back. When he didn't fight to get away I repositioned him up on my shoulder and for the first time hugged Justin as I rocked. When Larry came downstairs the next morning he found Justin and me asleep in that old rocker. Justin was still clutched in my arms.
Justin entered into a time when he was so clingy we absolutely could not leave him alone. He would so fiercely object being left in the nursery I actually skipped playing the organ for a few weeks to be with him. Gradually he learned to trust when I left him it would only be temporary. I would come back. Even when I’d leave him playing with the other kids I’d make a big deal out of waving good-bye and saying I’d be coming back to reinforce the idea that indeed I would be returning. This stage was bothersome but it was one of my favorites…Justin was now as spoiled for affection and nearness to me as my other babies had been and I loved it!