I'll never forget that moment, when my first son was maybe 1 month old, when I hit my breaking point. I hadn't slept in a month, he was going on hour two of non-stop crying, and tears were streaming down my face. My mom was asking to hold the baby, my partner was asking to hold the baby, but I had it in my mind that I was the only one who could soothe him. Me. His mom. But there are times when you should let someone else deal with the crying baby, you guys! Trust me! And it was in that moment, when my partner straight took the baby out of my hands and, pretty forcefully, ordered me to our bedroom so I could get some actual sleep, that I realized I didn't have to do this whole parenting thing on my own.
As a new mom, the pressure to be absolutely everything your baby needs, automatically and as if raising another human being comes naturally to you, is no joke. As a new mom I had no idea what I was doing, but I sure as you-know-what felt like I had to present a strong, put-together, confident front. And that meant constantly holding my baby, constantly being the one to feed my baby, and constantly being the one to soothe my baby. I was the one getting up at night, I was the one scheduling all the pediatrician appointments, and I was the one giving all the baths. And it wasn't that people didn't offer to help! They did! My baby's dad was begging to, you know, actually parent. I just couldn't let go of the overwhelming feeling that if I wasn't doing everything, I was a bad mom.
But I needed a break, my friends, and I absolutely needed to let go and let the other people in my circle help take care of my baby. And that meant learning how to let someone else deal with the crying baby, especially in situations like the following:
When You're Crying Too
During the first year of my son's life I honestly couldn't tell you who cried more, him or me. That baby stage is hard, you guys! Add in the unforgiving hormones, the sleep deprivation, the adjustment to a new normal that's nothing if not overwhelming, and tears are definitely in order. When the baby is crying and you're finding yourself crying too, hand the baby over and collect yourself. Or just go cry harder... like, into a pillow or in the shower or a corner or on a drive. Just get it out, so you can get back to parenting like the badass you are.
When You're So Tired You're Hallucinating
The sleep deprivation is real, my friends, to the point that new moms actually hallucinate. That's, um, not healthy, and a sign that you absolutely need to hand that baby over and get some damn sleep. You can't take care of a baby if you don't take care of yourself, first, foremost, and always.
When You Feel Like You're Going To Lose It
We love our babies. We love our babies so much it's damn-near impossible to adequately articulate just what it's like to feel that love all the time, day or night, regardless of how tired or overwhelmed or frustrated we are. That love never wavers, but oh man our patience definitely does. When you're on hour three of listening to a colicky baby cry, you're going to feel yourself nearing the edge of your sanity. That's when you need to hand that baby over and take some time to get back to neutral, my friend.
When You've Already Tried Everything Else
You've checked the diaper and you've fed the baby and you've changed their spit-covered clothes and, no, there isn't any hair between their toes or their fingers. They're not tired and they're not hungry and they're not dirty, so you're just at a loss. An absolute loss.
If you've done everything you can possibly think of to get that baby to stop crying, hand him or her over and let someone else try something new. Maybe they have a magic touch or some super secret soothing trick that will get that baby to calm down. And if they don't, at least you've given yourself a break.
When Another Child Needs Your Attention
After my second son was born, my midwife gave me the most beneficial piece of parenting advice I've ever received. She told me, as she held my 2-day-old son, that if the baby is crying and my older son, then 4, needed anything, to let that baby cry and tend to my oldest son. "He's old enough to understand what's going on," she said. "The baby isn't. The baby is OK to cry for a little. Your oldest son isn't going to be OK if he feels like you're neglecting him or forgetting about him."
If you have another kid to tend to, hand that crying baby over and take care of kiddo number one. The baby will be OK. After all, babies cry. It's just what they do.
When Someone Else Is Offering
If someone else is offering to take a crying baby off your hands, why deny them?! Take this opportunity for what it is: a goddamn blessing.
Then "Someone Else" Is Your Baby's Other Parent
You, dear mother, do not have to automatically be the default parent. You, wonderful mom that you are, do not have to be the only parent in the house that tends to the baby when he or she cries. Let dad take a few turns trying to calm down that upset cherub of yours. After all, the whole parenting thing is his responsibility, too.
When You Just Need A Damn Break
Truly, you don't really need a "reason" to hand a crying baby to a trusted family member, friend, or the baby's other parent. The whole "it takes a village to raise a child" thing? Yeah, that's not just hyperbole. That's true! Ask for help! Receive help! If that crying baby is overwhelming you to no end, hand that baby off and focus on yourself. If the baby isn't in any danger, and is physically OK, it's alright, if not necessary, to take care of you, first.