Spit up is an unavoidable part of parenting. It’s a good thing babies are small and cute, because frequent spit ups from any other source would, frankly, be terrible. Still, that doesn’t mean that helping a baby burp is always easy. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying there are emotional stages of trying to burp your baby. These are not to be confused with the other emotional stages that go along with parenting a newborn, since we all know that’s a roller coaster ride already, with its lack of sleep, stressful tears, and steep, steep learning curve. Nope, these emotions are more subtle, and they ebb and flow like the tides, and like the spit up that’s not coming, despite your best efforts.
To be frank, spit ups and burps bothered me a lot less than I thought they were going to. As someone who can be squeamish when it comes to, um, digestive fluids in general, I was a little nervous about tending to them. Thankfully, as most moms know, they’re not that big of a deal (most of the time). However, that doesn’t mean they’re always easy. Here’s an example of a typical emotional journey a new mom might make when trying to help her baby out of the discomfort known as “needing to burp.”
Stage 1: Maternal Optimism
It's no big deal, right? It's just a baby burp. I mean, babies burp all the time. I can totally handle this.
Stage 2: Gentle Determination
Let me just get the baby in the exact right spot, let me get the burp cloth in place, let me pat the baby's back just so, and then we'll let nature take its course. Everything is fine. Nothing to see here.
Stage 3: Patience
It's not like I don't have anything else to do. It's not like there's a ridiculous amount of laundry (all from this baby), or dishes to wash, or naps I could be taking. It's fine. We'll just continue to sit here in silence.
Stage 4: Extreme Patience
OK, seriously, how long do you think you're going to need? Like, should I turn on Netflix?
Stage 5: Rejection
Um, so maybe not? Is this a no-go? Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but you realize the stakes, don't you? If this doesn't happen, I'm going to lay you back on your playmat and then you're going to get reflux and be uncomfortable and unhappy. Let's not, OK?
Stage 6: Frustration
I thought I wasn't supposed to get irrationally angry at you until your teen years. Like, I know this isn't even your fault. Is this what everyone warned me about when they said parenting is hard?
Stage 7: Desperation
Please? Please? Please burp for me. I won't ask for anything else from you until at least your first birthday. I won't make you eat your vegetables. I'll stop using the bulb syringe to clean your nose. I'll pay for college. Please. Just one little burp?
Stage 8: Giving Up
Well, maybe you're not going to burp this time. Maybe you swallowed the exact amount of milk, and maybe you did so without inhaling a bunch of air bubbles. I mean, it's technically possible, right?
Stage 9: Changing Your Shirt
OK, changing you shirt technically isn't an emotional stage, but it's an important part of the process. As we all know, only after you totally give up will the burp come and will you be covered in spit-up.