Humbling Moment #548- Sometimes Babies Just Cry

Before I had children I was one of those people with almost no experience with children. I have younger siblings but we are pretty close in age and I never really took care of them. I could count on my fingers and toes the number of times I actually baby-sat before I turned 25 and none of those included actual babies.

So as I sat in my final Bradley Method natural childbirth class and learned about newborn care I still thought I knew everything. I think my teacher Donna said something about comforting babies when they cry and figuring out what was bothering them. I actually said something to the effect of "My baby won't cry because I will breastfeed him."

Everybody looked at me with this puzzled look, brows furrowed, even my husband knew that this was a ridiculous statement because he had actually BEEN around babies. Donna said something about how sometimes even that won't comfort them. I looked at her like she had three heads. What the hell was she talking about?!

My baby would surely look like the baby in the picture above all the time.

I was shocked to find that as soon as he was born I didn't know what was going on. The nurses in the hospital seemed to know better than I what he needed. We went home and it took a while to figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. More crying ensued on both sides. Then, just when I was starting to feel like I had figured things out, disaster struck.

Around six weeks started the strangest thing. At 10:00 pm he would start screaming. This would last until about 1:00 am and then abruptly stop. The first night, I almost took him to the emergency room I was so flustered. He was red and hot from screaming. I rocked, wore, tried to nurse, walked, sang, patted, set down, passed to daddy, and on and on and on and NOTHING worked.

I actually sat poring over Dr Sears' Baby Book checking off the things to do for a fussy baby. I was doing them ALL. Nothing seemed to work! I contemplated burning that book more than once. (By the way, baby wearing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting and on and on do not actually guarantee a perfect baby twenty four hours a day.)

Then, a few weeks (like SIX- I know it could have been much worse) later, this abruptly stopped. What the HECK?! It was textbook night time colic and it drove me nuts. I thought I realized then that sometimes babies cry and we can't figure out why. But no, I needed to be humbled again!

Along comes baby number two. I am actually TERRIFIED of having another child. The first one is almost three and still doesn't sleep through the night, how on earth will this work? Guess what- she slept like a dream. By a few weeks she was like some baby trainers model student- 10 hours straight every night.

Finally- I had figured it out!!!! I could ensure a cry free baby! Go ME!

I started telling people about my secret! It was the fabulous Harvey Karp and his 5 S's! I still love that video and truly believe that re-creating the womb for a few months after the babies birth is incredibly helpful. Lucky for me it only took two children to figure out how great I am at this whole "mothering" thing. Huge sigh of relief with me folks! Siiiiiiiigggggghhhhhh.

Oops- then comes baby three.

Don't worry folks, I have got this thing down. I am not even worried this time. Out comes baby- beautiful peaceful home birth, no vaccinations, chiropractic from birth, carried around all the time, all breast milk all the time and ......

She CRIES! For no apparent reason! In the middle of the night! I tell my midwife- "She doesn't sleep that well." She looks at me like by the third kid I should know that they need to eat frequently. But no- that is not it. I don't have a problem with a baby waking to eat throughout the night. But this baby wakes, eats and then cries for an hour or so. (No reflux either) We adjust her, we sleep with her, we move her to a crib, we swaddle, yada yada yada. It doesn't work! (I truly believe that this was just a combination of a sensitive baby and normal aches and pains of life and growing PLUS a very strong personality with a strong aversion to missing out on anything. Some people (babies) just feel like sleep takes way too much time.)

I just had number four. I got lucky again. She sleeps like a dream. It is fantastic. Really, it is, because sleep is nice for mama. Lucky for you though, I now realize that sometimes how a baby acts has nothing to do with how good a mother you are or how much you know. Sometimes it is just luck and baby personality and LIFE. I have been blessed with easier babies when I really couldn't have handled anything but that.

Humbling Moment #548- Sometimes babies just cry. Sometimes we can do everything "right" and not get the results we were expecting. Sometimes our children have personalities of their own that can not be controlled by us, even as young as a newborn. And sometimes I need to learn the same lesson a few times before I actually "get" it.

So- good luck with your babies and their individual personalities. And if you want to see one of my other humbling moments, I started counting at #547- Women With More Than One Child Are Not Actually Insane.

I have no idea when I will actually get to STOP counting, but I am hoping for soon. Will keep you posted though.


riverview9 said…
I'm realizing this with my third too. When I read the title I thought, well now people are going to have an excuse to let their baby cry instead of meeting their needs. That isn't it though. sometimes you do all you can and the baby just really needs to cry. Its my job/pleasure to help her but sometimes everything in the world won't help her because she just needs to cry.
Mama Runner said…
My oldest wasn't colicky, but some days simply nothing would comfort her. I tried every trick in the AP book. One day around 6 weeks old, I got to the point I had to put her down and leave the room or things were going to get dangerous. Within 3 minutes, she had calmed down and was content. It was a lightbulb moment for me--she is extremely introverted, and introverts need alone time when they get stressed. From then on, whenever she got a certain tone to her cry I would put her down and leave her alone. Not that I let her CIO all the time, but I learned when she needed me and when she needed me to go away. It taught me that any parenting philosophy cannont apply 100% to all babies. You have to do what works for your unique baby.
Ashley said…
It took me 4 days before I realized babies just cry, and I"m glad it only took me 4 days. I was sure if you kept the baby held, clean, and fed they wouldn't scream bloody murder. Oh no, I was wrong.

Day 4 seems to be the worst. I've talked to so many moms crying their eyes out on day 4.
Unknown said…
Don't quit until you rule out allergies! Eliminating dairy has worked WONDERS for my night time colicy baby. But I agree. I have had to come to terms with sometimes babies cry and I CANNOT sit and feel guilty about it. I just do the best I can!
The Reeds said…
Thank you for this post! We got a crier the first time around. We're at month 6 and still touchy and doesn't want to miss out on anything EVER. I've looked into allergies, the 5's and EVERY book.. literally. I love to read things like this b/c my friends with 5 or more will wisely say that each baby is different and sometimes it doesn't matter what you do. What works with one (or two) doesn't work with another. My friend's with one amazing sleeper just look at me pitifully as they're puffed up thinking they're super mom.. ugh.