Right now there are not a whole lot of words for how you might feel. There aren’t a lot of words but there are a plenty of emotions. Your sweet, small child is you most prized possession. They’re you’re new best friend and partner in crime. They never tell anyone when you sneak extra chocolate with lunch. They still smile at you when you’re looking worse for ware. They don’t judge you for taking an extra afternoon nap instead of vacuuming.
They’re your pal.
But, Momma- as cute as they are- as squishy and soft their skin and fat rolls might be, sometimes, there’s nothing but tears.
You’ll try everything. You’ll rock them, bounce them, strap them on and walk them, pop the in the stroller and push them, pat their backs, rub their bellies, kiss their foreheads 523 times…you’ll do it all and nothing will help. The tears will continue.
You’ll watch your favorite little person turn radish red as they scream, their lips curl into the most pathetic, heart wrenching pout you’ve ever seen. They’ll flail their out of control arms and you’ll shield their face from their tiny but sharp fingernails. They’ll cry and you’ll comfort. You’ll comfort and feel all the emotions at once and separately.
It’ll be hard to explain to people. You’ll feel frustrated not at your baby but at outsiders asking if you’ve tried x, y, and z on the assumption that you don’t know how to use the Internet. You’ll want to facepalm every time people don’t understand that when you say you’ve tried everything, you mean e v e r y t h i n g.
It’s going to be challenging to explain to family and friends that their visits layer extra stress at the moment. They won’t understand your heart’s desire for them to spend time with your babe, but your mind’s understanding that though screaming, your babe only wants to be with you. They won’t realize that babies don’t know their importance to their lives yet. To them, family and friends are still strangers and all the rocking, bouncing and smiling won’t convince them otherwise.
You’ll cling to things that are consistent. You’ll hold dear the moments you can control. So insistent offers to clean your house and do your laundry are mute to you. Those are the small things you can still control in life. You can clean the kitchen and feel satisfied as you look around at the finished product. You can fold a pile of laundry and burst with pride that you completed a task from start to finish. You know how to do these things- they’re not mysterious to you. There’s easy steps from start to finish that are comforting to you in a world full of unknown. You’ve never loved scrubbing toilets so much and explaining that to the outside world is beyond impossible.
You won’t know what to say when people offer to come by with food. You won’t know how to ask for gift cards instead. You won’t know how to tell them that your house is so unpredictable that hopes and dreams of soft baby snuggles are more than unlikely and that having your babe melt down again and again in front of people is hard on you.
They also won’t understand how it hurts your heart to hear your babe cry in someone else’s arms. To them, their good intentions will be enough to “give you a break”. But you’ll find yourself rushing through showers to get back to your child. Because if they’re going to cry, you want them to cry with you. You want them to smell you, to hear your heartbeat, to know that you’re not going to abandon them in their moments of distress.
You won’t know how to explain this to people. It will be nearly impossible to put into words how constant check ins are overwhelming. That questions of how you’re doing serve as reminders of how rough things are when your baby won’t stop crying. Answering “terrible” or “really hard” is going to produce more questions. Questions that you don’t have the answer to. Questions that people will think they understand and can offer wisdom to. Questions that don’t have an answer other than: my baby is simply challenging.
Watching friends with easy babies will be hard. You’ll hold all the joy and happiness for them and their days full of smiles and laughter, but you will also crave those moments and wonder what’s robbing your baby of them. You’ll wonder if it’s something you’ve done. You’ll wonder if you could do better. You’ll scroll through Instagram and hope for posts about other mommas having bad days. You’ll tear up when you can’t find a single one.
You’ll cry, Momma. Your tears won’t come from frustration or feeling overwhelmed. They’ll come from the heartbreak of this new love that you’ve just discovered. This love that overlooks all the screaming, scratching, kicking and tears and that aches for your tiny one to find some sense of comfort from this new, strange world they’re experiencing for the first time. You’ll cry as you rock them, cry as you feed them, cry as you watch them sleep. You’ll cry and tell them again and again that they’re ok and how much you love them. You’ll tell them again and again as your surprise yourself with how much screaming and crying you can handle.
You’ll do and feel all of these things, BUT you’ll find ways to cope too. You’ll realize that dark chocolate peanut butter cups don’t have dairy in them. So even though you’ve given up your beloved cheese and cream products for the sake of your baby’s tummy, you can still have a treat every now and then. You’ll realize that your baby likes to stare out the window when they lay on their changing table so you’ll sneak away for five minutes to roll around the floor with your cats- the only little critters around who you always know how to comfort at the moment. You’ll realize that all that walking and baby bouncing has helped you lose nearly all your baby weight by week two. You’ll start to identify the cries from fussy to tired to gassy to refluxy to hungry. You’ll begin to understand your babe in ways no one else can.
The feeling you get when you get it right will be unlike anything you’ve ever felt in your life. It’ll be full of pride (the good kind), comfort, joy and satisfaction. You’ll savor those small moments when the crying stops. You’ll tear up (again, the good kind) as you catch a smile from them. You’ll cling on to those moments and never let go because you know in an hour or two or three, they’ll cry again. They’ll cry and you’ll start going through the list all over again to find comfort for them. But as you do, you’ll find solice. You’ll know that at some point, it will quiet again. At some point, you’ll do something right. You’ll find your rhythm of trial and error fueled by the hopes of seeing that smile just one more time.
You’ll feel all these things, Momma, but even amidst all of the emotions, you’ll be ok. You’ll learn when to call the doctor and when to just keep walking circles around the dining room table. You’ll learn how to tell people that “colic” isn’t a medical condition and that it’s a made up word to explain that your baby cries a lot. You’ll learn how to relax amidst the screaming. You’ll realize that your baby likes the sound of the air conditioner running but not water. You’ll realize that after 7pm, they get overstimulated and need to just lay down with you in a dark room to unwind. You’ll find that reading them books and holding pictures close to their little faces will keep them occupied while getting ready for nap time. You’ll find positions that are comfortable for them when their tiny digestive tracks refuse to cooperate.
You’ll realize at some point that your baby is still so fresh. That their little organs weren’t functioning a month ago. That they’re learning everything including how to cope with stomach aches. You’ll understand that they just need more time. More importantly, you’ll realize that you just need more time. Time to figure out what your baby needs. Time to figure out what routine works best for the two of you. Time to step back and realize that they’re just so new- and that you’re so new. You’ve never done this before and somehow, I’m pretty sure they know that. That’s why they cry for you again and again even when you don’t know what you’re doing and rarely feel like you’re making them happy.
Through it all, you’ll be ok. You might not be great for a while, but you’ll be ok. You’ll learn how to look forward to easier days. You’ll learn how to laugh at the strange cries that come from your babe for no reason. You’ll learn all these things and more as you realize that this experience is between the two of you. That you’re both feeling new pains- both in your hearts and bodies. You’re feeling all these things together and that’s enough to get you through.
Someday it will be easier. Someday you’ll fling open the door to your home for family and friends. Someday you’ll be able to tell them what your baby likes and doesn’t like and let someone else soothe them. Someday you’ll be able to go out in public and not worry about your screaming babe in the backseat. Someday you’ll make it through a day without wondering if your babe has some sort of strange ailment that’s causing the overwhelming amount of tears.
But, Dear Momma- if that day isn’t today, that’s ok. You and your babe will be ok. You can look forward to those days, but don’t worry if they’re not today or even tomorrow. Give yourself some time– just like you’re giving your sweet babe. You’re as fragile and delicate as they are and deserve all the grace and patience the world can offer you.
But that starts with you. It starts with you realizing that it’s not your fault. The screams aren’t because you’re doing anything wrong. They’re not because you’ve failed to read your child. Because in all honesty, your babe, sweet as they may be, doesn’t even realize what they want out of life and it could all turn on a dime in a matter of seconds. So don’t ever doubt your capabilities as a mother. Don’t let those thoughts creep up in your mind and steal the joy from those small, quick moments of happiness from your babe. Push them aside and make room for grace. Sweep them from the forefront and replace them with memories of when you got things right. Fill in the gaps with hopes for the future. Give yourself a tiny bit of all that love you’ve pent up for your tiny, screaming baby. Because, Momma, you deserve it.
Until next time!