As a newborn, my daughter cried nonstop. Nonstop. Hardly anything worked to get her to stop. I spent the first two months of her life walking around with her in the upright position, over my shoulder, because that seemed to be the only way she wouldn't cry. Newborns cry since the moment they are born. They cry when they are hungry, sleepy, cranky, wet, in pain, or just because. Their cry makes you question whether life is worth living which ends up being one of the many things every mom thinks when her baby cries.
My daughter had difficulties breastfeeding, so she cried because she was hungry. When I realized I should start pumping, she cried because I didn't produce enough. When I started supplementing with formula, she cried because her stomach hurt. Then she had colic. Then she had acid reflux. She decided sleeping was for the birds, so she cried instead. She cried at night because she was exhausted (crying all day is hard work, after all) and we couldn't figure out how to soothe her. She cried the moment she was wet. I mean, like a teeny tiny little sprinkle in the diaper would set her off. She cried like crying was the only way to live. She cried like crying was a right and a form of protest.
A crying baby is possibly one of the worst sounds in the universe. It's worse than a fork scraping on a plate and even more heinous than nails on a chalkboard. It makes one insanely sad and wildly angry at the same time. It's all very irrational, but it's also normal, which is why the following thoughts are pretty damn universal when a mother is holding her crying baby. Hang in there, mom.
"Am I Doing The Right Thing?"
Sometimes, you are solely responsible for your baby's tears. For us, those times were when we sleep trained our daughter. After several months of sleepless nights, we knew this was the best option for our family. So we used the Ferber Method and let our daughter cry it out.
But of course, as I stood outside her bedroom, I counted seconds until I could come in and comfort her. Even though we agreed this was what we needed and wanted to do, it didn't mean I didn't question myself every step of the way.
"Am I Breaking Her Psychologically?"
"Don't run to your baby the moment she cries," was kind of the mantra I lived by. I don't exactly know why I believed that to be a good strategy, but it just made sense to me. If she wasn't crying for anything in particular, if she was fed, changed, rested, etc, I'd let her cry for a little bit before coming to her. Sometimes she'd soothe herself, and sometimes I would help her. Either way, I did question myself sometimes.
"Am I hurting her emotional wellbeing? Am I messing her up psychologically?" You'll find a plethora of research about the psychological damage crying can do to your child, and you'll find just as much information to the contrary. So, no one really knows, but a mother will still beat herself up trying to figure it out.
"Mommy Is Coming!"
"I'm coming, my baby! Just wait one second. I can only move so fast with a broken body and swollen feet," I'd lovingly think. "I know you need me, just let me warm up this bottle. Just two seconds. Please. Just wait. Just a few more seconds. I know, I know, you're hungry. Two seconds," I'd start to slightly spiral into irritability.
Like spinning sugar, those thoughts whirled on repeat until I was finally able to tend to my daughter.
"Somebody Help Me!"
"Help! I need somebody! Help, not just anybody! Help!"
But seriously. I wanted help. I wanted a magical fairy to appear and help me figure out why this kid was crying. "Dear baby, you're fed and changed. You've slept and we've played. What can you possibly be so upset about?" But the fairy never came (I guess that woman comes only for lost teeth), and I had to figure it out on my own.
"If You Don't Stop Crying, I Will Go Insane"
I remember one day specifically. My daughter was a little over a week old and I was in the pit of postpartum depression. I was sitting on the couch. She was across the living room in her swing and crying (god knows why). I was also crying, because I was just so exhausted by everything. All I could think about was, "This is why they make you sign that 'I will not shake my baby' form at the hospital." I just couldn't take it anymore. Not that day. So I kept sitting on the couch and she kept crying. When I stopped crying, and when I stopped feeling angry, I went to her and I picked her up. At that moment I felt shame and guilt over my thoughts. Until the next time.
"Somebody Kill Me!"
"Just do it. Please. Put me out of my misery. I'm not cut out for this. Every part of me wants to scream. Was all of this a mistake? Have I made a terrible mistake? Why? Oh, why?! Make it quick and painless."
Listening to a baby cry is actual torture. We should use the newborn cry as an interrogation technique. Is that a thing? Make a spy listen to a newborn crying for five minutes, they'll give up their country and everyone in it. You're welcome, government.
"Please Just Stop"
"OMG! What do you want? I'll give you anything you want? Just tell me. Tell me! Would you like some Nutella? How about a toy? Will that make you happy? Yes? Will you stop crying? If it will make you stop crying I will do it. Make it stop."
Sometimes you don't even think. Sometimes you are so stuck on autopilot that no amount of crying can penetrate that thick wall of "just doing." The ability to think is gone.
In those moments you simply stand up, pick up that crying baby, and start methodically swaying back and forth. You stare into whichever wall you're facing and turn your brain off, enjoying the silence of silence.
"Im The Adult. I Can Handle This."
I constantly had to remind myself I'm in charge. "I'm the adult. This baby is just a baby. I am the grownup. I can handle my emotions much better than a newborn. I know this. I'm angry, but she's just a baby. She needs me. I'm the adult," I'd talk myself off the ledge. "It is OK. You can do this."
Hearing a baby cry stimulates an array of emotions and a flood of thoughts. From, "Awe, my poor, little baby," to, "Oh my god, someone stick a hot fireplace poker in my eyeball," a newborn's cry is definitely not for the fainthearted.