Screaming Baby Reminder

We’ve been spending lots of time with new babies this week. So of course the conversation for a sibling continues with Gus.  I watch all of the quiet, sleeping babies around me and for a moment, my resolve weakens. But then I quickly remember the endless screaming that comprised Gus’s early months of life. I remember this…

Shortly after the baby is discharged from the hospital, you have to bring the baby to the pediatrician for their first official check-up. We arrived at our doctor’s office five days after being discharged from the hospital feeling and looking like two crack heads. We hadn’t slept for more than a two hour period for over a week and Gus had been wailing since he’d been born. We arrived with a list of questions for our doctor. Things like, it is okay to burn incense in the house and when should we start cutting his fingernails? But the most important question we had was about his crying. We could barely wait to get it out.

Our doctor, Dr. Menendez, checked him over and proclaimed that he looked great. He was gaining weight. Gus responded to all of his touches, pokes, and prods just like he should. Then the magic words, “Do you have any questions?”

We pulled out our list, but I jumped to number one immediately. “He cries whenever he gets tired and he really gets worked up at night. He screams. It’s like he’s being tortured. And we can’t stop it. Nothing I do helps.”

Dr. Menendez nodded. “Yes, all babies cry when they are sleepy.”

“Yeah, but he cries for hours before he goes to sleep….”

“Oh, he is probably a bit colicky.” He responded nonchalantly. He didn’t seem the least bit disturbed by it at all. It was one of the characteristics we liked about him because he never really got worked up about anything unless it was actually something to get worked up about. “It will pass in like three to four months.”

I could have broke down and sobbed right in my chair. If I wasn’t so prideful about crying in public and in front of other people, I am sure I would have. He might as well have told me it was going to last for three to four years. Or forever. Because let me tell you when you are in the middle of it, it feels like it is never going to end. It begins to feel as if you are being tortured, tested to see how much you can endure before you finally lose your mind.

I remember how my brain hurt from his endless crying. My body hurt from the exhaustion.  And when you’re sleep deprived and the baby is screaming every sound was magnified in my head as if the volume was permanently turned up as loud as it could go and it wouldn’t come down. I remember what a failure I felt like being unable to console my own child. I remember thinking I would never survive it.

Could we survive it again?

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21 Responses to Screaming Baby Reminder

  1. You might get a completely different temperament on Baby #2. My first was hard, and everyone (well, lots of people) said that their 2nd was completely different than their first. I prayed for that, as my son was ACTIVE (which translated to one exhausted mama!). My daughter as a newborn was sweet as pie. She only got and stayed (!) loud as a toddler…

  2. Danielle says:

    as Katy said, each baby is different. Also, what we found useful was co-sleeping with the baby when he was very young. I would put him on my stomach and sleep on my back. I didn’t sleep very deeply this way, of course, but it was better than nothing. My husband would start the night and then I would take over, so we both got 4 hours sleep, which makes a humongous difference.
    It was definitely difficult, though. I so understand what you mean! But wish me luck, I’ll (G-d willing) be going through this again for the third time sometime this month :)

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      I wish I could co-sleep. I would absolutely have done it. The problem is that I have a REM disorder. So I sleep talk, sleep talk, and act out any dreams. It’d be too dangerous. Good luck! When are you due? Do you know what you’re having?

      • Elizabeth says:

        I have the same sleep problem. My husband was afraid of rolling over on the baby, but I was so paranoid that I would be dreaming and whack the baby that I would lay there stiff as a board all night! We kept her in the bassinet next to the bed in the beginning instead.

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m actually envious of people that can co-sleep. It would have made it so much easier for me during those early days.

  3. Melina says:

    It’s good to know we’re not alone. I felt the same way in the beginning and I have the same doubts right now (although my daughter is onle 2,5 mo). I think yes, you can do it again because it’s such a short period of hardship, it gets better right in the second month, don’t you think? great post!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Melina. It did get better. And I got a bit better at doing it! Congratulations on your little one!

  4. Angela says:

    My first baby was also an extremely overwhelming ordeal and he was very nearly an only child. We decided to have a second anyway and it has been a very different experience. Not only is he a more laid-back baby but I am a more relaxed mama. We still do have bouts of fussiness and sleepless nights but I’m a lot better at taking it in stride and not letting it shake my confidence as a mother. It helps when you actually KNOW that babies really do change very quickly and that you’ll all get through it.
    Some moms do say that their second was harder than the first but I’ve found that when I dig a little deeper that they had a pretty easy first baby and were shell-shocked when the second didn’t go as smoothly. I’ve never talked to a mom who had a difficult first experience who said it was worse the second time around. Not trying to pressure you into having another but I think that if you really would like another child but this is your main deterrent that the second time around will be a whole different experience for you regardless of what kind of temperament baby #2 has. The other night baby #2 was having a bout of fussiness and as I was trying everything I could think of to soothe him I thought. At least he hasn’t learned to throw full-blown fits yet. He could be trying to scratch and bite me too. I NEVER thought that way with #1.

    • Angela says:

      Sorry for the funky punctuation. Hopefully it still makes sense.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Angela. I just said to Kat that this time around I would have other mom friends to help me. When Gus was born, I didn’t have any mom friends. I’m sure that would make a difference. Nearly all of my friends have just had their second child and each one says just what you did in that they are so much more relaxed this time around. I’ve gotta believe all of you are right and that being more relaxed probably also helps the baby to be a bit more relaxed too because they are so attached to us emotionally as well. Interesting last point…I wonder if the crying would seem as unbearable know given everything else I know about parenting.

  5. Kat says:

    I remember never wanting another child because of how bad my labor was with K. It was so painful and scary. The nurse was terrible and I knew she’d be my only child. It took some time but I remembered after all that pain I felt no pain and was holding my little girl.

    Try to remember it is only 3-4 months out of 18 years. Also your second could be easy and not a crying all the time baby. Both of my kids are so different.

    Good Luck on deciding whether or not Gus has a sibling soon but I think your leaning toward number 2 lol.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Kat and so true. Also, one of the big things that I have that I didn’t have with Gus was other moms for support. I didn’t have any mom friends when he was born that I could lean on or call and say- please help! I’m losing my mind! Now, I have a great network that I’ve built and would actually be able to have some support this time around. I might be leaning ever so slightly:)

  6. Kyra says:

    Not to deter you from a second, but I just want to voice an opinion from a Mom who had a challenging 1st baby and an even more challenging 2nd. Because my first son was so challenging (as in he’s almost two and a half and still doesn’t sleep through the night, and didn’t start napping regularly until after two years of age, and has transition issues, and food issues, and, and, and, and…..), I thought my second was bound to be easier. He’s not. He’s harder. But you know what? Once you have a baby, whoever he or she is, however colicky or challenging, they’re yours and you love them, and you figure out how to maintain sanity because you have to.
    Just don’t count on the second being easier, you can certainly have two “spirited” children (or am I the only one who has been given approximately 50 copies of Raising Your Spirited Child by friends, family, and random people on the street?) Either way – good luck!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Kyra. It’s so funny because on someone’s comment I asked, but what if the next one is even more difficult?? Because it absolutely could happen:) Love your last comment!

  7. Sara says:

    Hi, I’m a child psychologist too. I just want to tell you that my first (now 6) was also very “spirited”. Some days she almost broke me. She also pestered me and my husband for a sibling and when she was 4, she got just what she ordered – a baby sister. Now, this baby girl came out a polar opposite from her sister. She falls asleep at 6:30 p.m. and sleeps all night. She barely cried when she was an infant and is still (now 2) so gentle. It was a great experience as a parent to see the different personalities. What has been the most rewarding is how much my 6-year old adores her sister. Sure there is some jealousy, but mostly they love each other, play together, etc. My 6 year old is so proud of her baby sister, is such a big help and her personality has really matured. I think when you have that second child, everyone has to adapt to less attention from mom all-around, and that’s not such a bad thing. Plus, my husband has no choice but to step-up his game and help-out a lot more. Anyway, I thought I’d share my positive experience. Even though we had to try really hard to get pregnant that second time, I did have a panic attack when I finally took that pregnancy test. OMG- it’s a lot of work, but you’ve been through it once before and it’s easier the second time, in some ways.

  8. Emily says:

    Wow, I never realised just how bad some other mothers have it. My little boy has slept almost all the way through the night since I brought him home! He would go to sleep around 8 (just after dinner) wake me up for one feed at about 11 and another at about 1 then just continue sleeping until around 7 o’clock! We co-sleep, so I do a lot more sleep than most mums, but I must say he’s a pretty happy and content baby. :) he’s now 4 months and teething, with no complaints and starting to learn how to crawl (he can’t quite keep his knees under him).

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      I’m always amazed when I hear about these babies. If I knew my second would sleep like that I would start trying to have number 2 right now!

  9. Kate W says:

    I am new to this blog. I am Catholic and I am around a lot of families that do not use birth control and most of them have a lot of kids (5,6,7,8, and up!). We have two sons, one born in Jan. 2011 and the other born Feb. 2012, very close to Irish twins! I am still longing for many more children, too. When I see these mothers with 5,6,7,8 and up kids, I KNOW that I can do it too. My grandma was the 10th of 10 children. If her mother and father hadn’t had her, I wouldn’t be here. If my great-grandmother could do it in the sticks of West Virginia, living off a coal-miners salary, then I can do, too. I think of my ancestors when I am about to go crazy.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Kate. My neighbors across the street have twin boys who are also three. Whenever I am having one of those days with Gus I think well, I could have two three year olds:)

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