Is it harder to love a baby that cries a lot?
Isn’t that just one big mother of a question right there?! It’s huge! I love this question! I‘ve been asked this question and would like to share with you why, why I’ve been asked and why I love it. Now if you read my blog but don’t follow me on Twitter then the last time I really blogged about my life as a new mum to Baby G was her birth story post however if you were following me on Twitter back in November & December you would have definitely been aware of some dark times here at Lancaster Towers, you may even have heard some crying and if passing seen floods of tears flowing from the door! We are now in a good place and Baby G is a delight but for a while there things were seriously, seriously tough. I mean like proper “considering-going-back-to-work-full-time-and-getting-a-nanny” tough!
Baby G is 15 weeks old now, so here’s a quick rundown of how those first few months with two have been.
The first three weeks with two
Weeks 1, 2 & 3 At the beginning all was good with Baby G, breast feeding well, waking once or occasionally twice in the night to feed, sleeping most of the time. Lil’ H adoring of his new sister but he was struggling with the change to his family unit. His night time sleep went out the window. My poor little guy desperately trying to make up his mummy time at night I think. He went from sleeping through the night from being just a few months old to waking multiple times a night. As a result of his poor sleeping his tiredness saw his behaviour spiral downhill. Desperate to not be telling him off but everyone’s shattered, patience and best intentions have left the building and he’s being, well frankly naughty, so guess what? He was being told off and frequently and that just made me so sad. I kept thinking I did this to him, I knew this was all his emotional reaction to the change, I now know and can see how hormonal a time it was too. So positive mummy time dropped to an all time low and we spent the best part of a month in one very hideous viscous circle!
Farewell sleep, hello colic
Weeks 3-8 I had a moment of clarity amongst the fug of breastfeeding tiredness and could see the number one way to make some improvements was to tackle H’s sleep. Bottom line was we wouldn’t be tolerating this if G hadn’t arrived so it was time. There were two issues firstly he wouldn’t go to sleep by himself, insisting mummy/daddy stayed or he’d be out of bed and out the door. Then there was the night waking multiple times a night. I prioritised the night waking on the grounds it would have the biggest positive impact on his tiredness and therefore his behaviour. We got the stair gate out and put on his bedroom for the first time ever and used aromatherapy and Indigo child essences (both which I still use). During the day I introduced “The Sleep Fairy” and her chocolate coin incentive programme! The premise was simple, Mummy had called the sleep fairy, she would watch over Lil’ H and if he slept in his bed all night she would leave a chocolate coin. Lil’ H and I made a reward chart by drawing and cutting out and sticking on pictures and photographs a reward chart. It has been invaluable to have a photo of Hugo asleep in his bed, he so clearly understood what we were asking him to do. He loves going on the little steam train at Brookside so a straight week of sleeping in his own bed and a ticket to ride he would have!
First night – when it came to bedtime I stayed with him whilst he went to sleep, 2am he woke, crying “Mummy” and rattling the gate, joy! I went to him hugged him over the gate told him he was safe and told him to go back to bed. He didn’t, I did. I then simply spoke to him through the monitor and said Mummy would scare the sleep fairy away if she came into his room. This was met by silence! Quickly followed by the pitter patter of feet back into bed! The sleep fairy came and left a coin and a very proud and not so tired boy awoke the following day. Night 2 similar but I never went to him just spoke to him. Night 3, the wheels fell off and I had to go into him and but of course there was no coin from the fairy in the morning L That was that though, the fairy came for three weeks and then had to be “dismissed”. Which we did by her leaving a chocolate coin, a special present and a magic fairy wand, this is important because if we need to call the fairy back which we have had to a few times we use the wand when we are going to bed and ask her to help H sleep in his own bed. To date it has been very effective – the Sleep Fairy and her chocolate coin incentive programme rocks!
During all this Baby G had been a dream, breastfeeding well, sleeping well, napping well. Toddler sleep issues resolved, make way for Baby crying issues. It came from nowhere when G was about 3 weeks old this crying started late afternoon say about 4:30pm ish and I would get her to sleep, like to totally floppy arm asleep, put her down and seconds later eyes wide open hysterical screaming. It was colic. That was my worst nightmare a baby with colic and it just got worse. It was for a few hours in the early evening which go longer ‘til it was pretty much 6 hours straight ‘til 10:30pm when she’d be fed and go to sleep and then be put down exhausted. Then it started to start earlier and earlier and earlier and eventually it was ALL DAY. I timed it to go to the doctors one day she cried for 5 hours between 9:30am and 4:30pm and solidly without sleeping from 4:30pm until 10:30pm. Baby G cried for just over 11 hours that day and that was a “regular” day. She didn’t feed well, she cried, got wind, her tummy hurt, she cried more – yet another vicious circle. I had the infacol, the Colief, the gripe water, the Gaviscon, the massage pad, a pal on Twitter was sending reiki, the white noise of the hairdryer was rescued with a white noise CD (which is great and we still use). I’d cut out wheat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol, I’d seen breast feeding consultants and tried most bottles (Baby Born Free have all the latest on BPA Free, were hugely supportive and deserve a thank you!) But Baby G was still crying it was getting worse if anything, if something did work it almost never worked again there was no consistency, no pattern, preferences or routine were emerging. My hair was going greyer I swear visibly by the day, the stress lines were deepening and arriving at a pace. I didn’t want to go out, it was so exhausting and difficult to visit other people, I was frightened she would just scream the place down, family or good friend or not I didn’t want to be observed struggling with my Baby. I was in yet another very hideous spiral, this time one of very real and total panic. Life felt like a tent with no pegs in a hurricane. I don’t believe any child is “easy” they all have their moments and challenges and it just might not be whilst they are babies but it was only now that I understood what all the conversations I heard amongst my ante & post natal groups with H were about. Only now did I “get it”, this was the nightmare they were all going on about!
Week 8 By the time Baby G was eight weeks old she had the six week check, all was well, I’d been prescribed the gaviscon and I had returned twice because “my baby cries all the time”. I wasn’t dismissed to say I was would be unfair, Baby G was checked out and I was told she was fine, it would pass but to come back if I continued to be worried. I was worried, worried it might never stop, even my mum started to say “do you think there is something wrong with her?” Family and friends would visit – arriving with their knacks, tricks, secrets, songs and rhymes and declare “oh give her to me I’ll settle her.” Part of me is proud of G that without exception she saw everyone off and didn’t settle for a single one of their secret-special-fail-safe baby–charms! I had seen an osteopath when I was pregnant and I had taken Baby G along when she arrived. I was back there on an emergency appointment to see if anything had changed or could be helped or preferably fixed. I was running out of routes to explore, next step was going to have to be… I was all out I didn’t have an next step – wait until she was 12 weeks old and allegedly all this colicky screaming would stop that 12 week milestone was a lifetime away. The osteopath was just lovely and listened and examined Baby G, placed her hands on her head and said, almost immediately, “this baby has an ear infection”. In my heart of hearts I didn’t really think I’d get an answer from going to the osteopath, I was just dealing with such an alien situation it made me feel better to be doing something, doing anything, I just wanted her to stop crying. “This baby has an ear infection” I was blown away there was a possible answer, now I feel guilty that wasn’t on my radar as an option, could I have know? Should I have know? Oh my God I could have an answer and one that is treatable – I was excited, inappropriately pleased my baby might have an ear infection because if she does we can treat it and she won’t be in pain and she won’t be crying for unknown reasons anymore. Baby G had her a full osteopathic “MOT” and treatment and then we headed straight back to the doctors. I called en route as it was gone 5pm telling them I wanted someone to look in my baby’s ears tonight. The doctor looked in her ears and confirmed. Calpol and antibiotics were prescribed. Calpol and 20 minutes later I had a different baby. We had seen her smile before but we didn’t see it very often, we didn’t know that she is a smiley girl and she is. Just look!
Best friends are allowed
So that is why my best friend asked me “is it harder to love a baby that cries a lot?” I love that question because I knew the answer without thinking, I love the fact that I knew without stopping for a nano second, I love the fact that the question made me really think about the first few months with Baby G. I love that question because it says so much about the strength and openness of both our friendship and the people my best friend and I are. It’s a friendship I am incredibly proud of .
So what is the answer to the original question “is it harder to love a baby that cries a lot?” The answer is simple “No” but there are far fewer moments to recognise, reflect and feel that love because all of the attention that is demanded and exhaustion created by the crying. It is harder to have those moments of calm and quiet and it is those moments when you gaze at your sleeping baby and get to experience rush of love for your child flood over you.