When a baby cries, something is wrong
This is what automatically comes to mind. Especially, if that happens relatively more often than usual, like with our Tosia in the recent days. Mine and Natalia’s reaction is almost always the same, trying to guess what is the problem and how to fix it. “Is she hungry?” No, she has just eaten and does not eat her fingers yet, nor try to find my nipple, which is an ultimate sign, she is hungry. “Is she cold?” No way, her body is warm, interior temperature is just right and we are not at the South Pole now. “Is she wet?” Well, we have just changed her diaper after eating and she smells beautifully. “Is she sleepy?” Perhaps, but while nursing, she first fell asleep and then she woke up and all of a sudden started crying, while in the outside world nothing changed. At least I did not notice anything. “Is this colic then?” Yes! This is the one! And we felt relieved ever after, at least because we found explanation. Indeed, she has problems releasing gases and you can tell how she sometimes struggles before letting the air out.
But interestingly, after this eureka moment, some other times she had no problems with digestion and she started and stopped crying with no relation to gas release, so there must be something else…
And this is where the challenge starts, because we have no idea why she cries, screams and shouts. This is the very moment a young parent like us begins seriously worrying, which then leads to desperate attempt to calm the baby down, as the sound she is producing and faces she is making become unbearable and heart-breaking. We do not know, what is going on, but we assume that if we find a way to get her to stop crying, she would be fine. And what if we are actually wrong on that?
A neutral observer perspective
Let’s try to imagine how a stranger would describe the following situation. On the one hand we have a baby, who is crying, and whatever the reason is, she is calling a confident, calm and gentle parent to be with her closely, so she feels more secure emotionally, even if they cannot solve her physical problem immediately (if it exists at all). Probably we could relate to these circumstances, when we think about our own experience from recent past, when last time we felt sick, had fever and it was enough that only a warm word and a gentle touch of a loved one caused some relief.
On the other hand, we have this more and more upset parent, who typically in a very stimulating way starts now checking all possible “calming” methods: changing baby’s position from belly up to belly down, then standing up and rocking her, doing squats, dancing to waltz, or else playing a tumble dryer 8-hour sounds on You Tube (I admit, that is my favorite). Perhaps additionally we even start asking our little treasure to calm down, because we feel completely helpless. What does it say about parents for a neutral observer? Probably we may agree, that it says one thing for sure. The parent is far from being confident, calm and perhaps not very gentle with all these moves and hassle.
So who needs to calm down?
Well, probably first it is us, parents. Even if we assume calming our little one down is what should happen, it may not happen, unless we are calm, we slow down, and we stay cool. Let’s remember we checked already all other possibilities, so probably high chances are our baby is not in danger in any way and the lion will not eat her in a moment if she does not stop crying. She is “just” crying for the reasons we still need to understand. And if it does not occur to us now, it is totally fine. After all, we are just getting to know each other. The baby is very sensitive, we know that, and needs us to be with them, try to understand them and last but not least, accept their feelings.
Accepting baby’s feelings
Accepting baby’s hard feelings may be another key aspect, which is easy to miss. Again, are we so different as adults? Do not you want sometimes, even if you are a superman, to have someone’s shoulder to cry on? And not because you need to be calmed down, cheered up, but simply to have some space to get it all off your chest, to release all emotions that have been piling up in your heart. We all need that from time to time, and that is why we often seek professional support as well.
Crying may be a good sign, crying may be healing. And if we have doubts what a baby may be stressed about when she is just 3 weeks old and lives in a beautiful house among all these good people who only wait to pamper her, well… ET story can help. Imagine for a moment, that your tiny beloved baby is just like ET, who landed on a totally strange, new land. Not only is he stressed about it, but he sees that everyone around is stressed about him too. That can really drive ET mad! If you cannot imagine it, or have no idea who ET was, do not worry, here is a short video that says it all. Be careful with the noise level though, especially if your baby just fell asleep 🙂
And if you still are not convinced or simply the baby is still crying and you are shivering and sweating in distress, I recommend a post from Janet Lansbury at Elevating Child Care: 7 reasons to calm down about babies crying. In my case only reading this post calmed me down, which gave me a huge confidence boost before my little Tosia, who looks so engaged in this post picture, cries out loud again.
And if adult talk does not appeal to you, just watch ET. The whole movie. It really says it all!
Let’s see what happens next…