Asking for support: Sick baby rejects mom

Johanna writes:

"I'm writing mostly to get words of support from your readers. I'm finding myself unable to go directly to friends because I don't know how to communicate such an out-of-the-norm scenario: my baby doesn't like me, doesn't feel comforted by me.

My son is 17 months and has some sort of undiagnosed health trouble. He has a pretty long list of food allergies and intolerances and it seems as though he has some sort of related or unrelated GI disease, but we haven't been able to diagnose him yet. He spends a lot of time seemingly in pain, a lot of time angry as hell, furiously tearing at me, throwing anything he can get his hands on, and hitting me. He also spends a lot of time just fine, which is sort of a mind-f*ck. It confuses me and it leads the doctors to conclude that he's actually fine, maybe a bit moody. But when he's raging it is crystal clear to me that it is abnormal, that it is because of physical pain or discomfort, that it is happening out of desperation. Additionally, he periodically loses weight, refuses food and bottles, and a long list of other frustrating and scary symptoms. It's been a saga, but I won't bore you all with it here!

Here's the problem I need support for – when he's raging and his health problem is flaring, he seems to absolutely hate me. He begs for his Daddy, reaches for him desperately, hits me, won't let me care for him, cries nearly to the point of vomiting until I hand him over. When he is in pain or otherwise struggling he walks past me, turning his little shoulders away against my outstretched arms, and begs Daddy to pick him up. He pinches me, scratches my face, yells at me, and then goes to Daddy, rests his head on his shoulder and is comforted. I know that this is what it is and I need to just let him get what he needs in whatever way he needs it.

But it's ripping me to shreds. I carried this baby in my body, I have shared nighttime duty as he's been up at least once — last night 8 times — for nearly every night of his life, I nursed him for 9 months and then mercifully weaned him so that he could, briefly, feel better. I don't know how to continue living if my baby hates me. Now, I know that he doesn't *hate* me. He's too little to hate. But the force of his frustration with me and rejection of me takes my breath away and I feel like I'm losing my mind. Dealing with the sleuthing necessary to find a diagnosis for his pain, the fallout with my older child, my marriage, and my health, AND stomaching the nearly wholesale rejection of me by one of my beloved children is about to break me.

Has anyone been through this before with a sick child? Did it end? Is it normal? Have I done something wrong?"

This tears me up for you. I remember distinctly feeling like I wasn't connecting with my younger son, like I was the wrong mother for him. He wasn't sick, but he seemed to be on a different emotional vibration or something than I was, and nothing I did was what he needed. Keeping on showing up even when I thought I was the wrong mother was horrible, and it still makes me feel like crying when I remember it.

It has gotten better, and what was a fierce pushing away is now a fierce pulling toward. I hope that the same thing happens for you, and I think it will, once the discomfort is over. It sounds like he's just drawn a division in his head, and you're on one side and your husband is on the other, and he won't be able to let you onto the good side until he feels better.

Has anyone else been through this with a sick child? How did you manage your emotions? And when did it get better?