A Crying Baby
by Diane Burton
It’s been a while—like over forty years—since my kids were babies. But I remember well what happens when a baby cries . . . and cries . . . and cries. And you can’t figure out what’s wrong. Diaper is dry. Baby was fed a short time ago. And burped. You put Baby down for the night. He sleeps for a short time then wakes up, crying. (Rather than say he or she or s/he, I’m using he. Partly because my crier was a boy.)
You change the wet diaper. Put him back in bed and rub his tummy. He cries. You hold him on your shoulder and rub his back. He cries. You rock him. He cries. You walk the floor. And he cries.
From ten at night until two in the morning. Every night. You take him to the doctor. In the morning, Baby is fine. He lies on the exam table and coos at the doc. He smiles, even. Doctor says it can’t be colic because Baby would be agitated all the time. Nothing wrong with him. And “…remember, all babies are different.”
You want to reach across the table and grab the doc by his tie and scream in his face that something must be wrong with your baby.
Worse, your husband sleeps through all the crying. You don’t wake him up because he has to go to work in the morning, and you are (a) on maternity leave, or (b) a stay-at-home mom. And while you don’t have to go to work, you’re strung out from a lack of sleep.
Does that sound like the voice of experience? You bet.
So what do you do?
If your baby’s doctor doesn’t listen to you or patronizes you, and you’re convinced something is wrong, get a new doctor. I firmly agree with my daughter’s pediatrician that mother’s instinct trumps an M.D. degree every time. If it is colic, they do outgrow it. Until then, the new doc might prescribe medicine to soothe Baby’s tummy. If it’s a milk allergy, doc may suggest soy formula or other milk substitutes. Together with the pediatrician, rule out medical reasons for Baby’s crying.
I’m not a doctor nor do I offer medical advice. But here are some suggestions that might make bedtime more pleasant. Establish a routine. A warm bath relaxes Baby, followed by the nighttime feeding. Burping, of course. A story or two, especially ones that have a lulling tone with repetitions. Nursery rhymes, for example. If Baby is very young, swaddle him. It replicates the tightness of the womb. Soft music, then lights out.
Does that work? With some babies, yes. But not all.
Some people say to let the baby cry. I don’t always agree with that. First, eliminate all the usual causes of discomfort—dirty diaper, hunger, gas. Hold him, cuddle him, sing to him. But what if he settles down in your arms then as soon as you put him down and leave, he cries again? Rub his tummy, tell him it’s time to sleep then leave. He cries again. Now, you have to decide. Is he pulling your chain or is something really wrong? A mother can (usually) tell the difference between real hurt and (dare I say it?) manipulation. Here’s where I might let him cry. Short period of time, though.
Some babies like the motion of the stroller. Try pushing him in the stroller back and forth. We’ve all seen commercials where the parent puts Baby in the carseat and goes for a drive. I never resorted to that. Maybe it would’ve helped.
It’s hard to hear your baby cry. When you are sleep deprived, your judgement is impaired. Your temper is short. A crying baby can wring you out. Get help. Your husband/significant other needs to give you a break during the night. Amazingly, some babies respond better to the other parent, the rested one. Babies can sense your mood. When you’re tense, they will be, too. During the day, nap when Baby naps. Laundry, dishes, etc. will be there. You need your sleep more. If possible, ask for help from grandparents or other family members, or friends, especially if you have an older child who doesn’t nap anymore.
The good news is babies adapt. Eventually, they settle down. Moms take longer to recover.
About the Author
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband.
Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
You can read Diane’s “Family Life” column on the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.