I haven’t the faintest idea. God knows.
Sorry if you came to this page because in good faith- wide-eyed and desperate, you wanted some advice. It pains me to say I have no pearls of wisdom when it comes to this matter.
As I sit here writing this post I am bog-eyed and beyond exhausted. My eyes are so red that Snoop Dogg couldn’t boast of such crimson bad boys. I’m drowning in a sea of screams and I don’t know how to keep myself afloat anymore.
No two children are the same. That’s why when I was pregnant with my second I didn’t expect the independent, motivated and fairly mild-tempered baby that was our first born. That was fine. When I got to know Elias properly in the first weeks at home, it was apparent that he was none of these things. He was completely dependent on us for any motivation and things could go from zero to one hundred real quick. It was either hysterical laughter or sheer hysterics. He’d been through alot. So when the screaming started after I’d put him down after a feed, I felt guilt.
Every Mother remembers her baby’s smiles- the warm fuzzy feeling it gives you. No one wants to be reminded of the other stuff. A shrill high pitch scream is always a headache, but when it’s your baby, its a bit more than that. It wasn’t always easy to pinpoint why Elias started screaming in the way that he did. Sometimes it was clearly teething, sometimes it was overtiredness. But what I did know was that It became impossible to put him down for even a second. Screaming became the inevitable outcome at every point. I started to feel a whole mixed bag of emotions. At first there was irritation. I mean when your toddler starts screaming, its easy to admit that thats pretty darn irritating right? so why was it so different for a baby! Then there was the rage. Not directed towards my son, but seemingly pointed to the world as a whole. Suddenly the sound of my husband breathing was overbearing. The fridge was humming WAY too loudly- the faded magnolia paint on the walls was too loud. The world was one big annoying and broken soundboard on a kids book that you just couldn’t shut up for love nor money.
I just didn’t know what to do or how to make it stop. I’d pick him up and it would get worse somehow. I’d leave him and you can guess how that would go… I tried teething gels, lavender sprays, herbal baby balms, colic syrups, tinctures and mixtures- potions of all sorts. Yet nothing would work. Some days would be a complete write off- by the end of the day it would be me resigned to the sofa in a constant, never-ending cycle of over-feeding. Or with him laying dormant on my lap, only for the howling to re-manifest itself as soon as his head touched the fluffy rug.
I would dream of going back to work. I’d imagine myself in a cool office space where the only ringing in my ears could be easily resolved by pressing a button. Then on remembering myself in an instant, I would be taken back to the past like some ghost out of ‘Christmas Carol’ to being the onlooker. I would see the silent cries of the baby in the glass box and long for him to scream like the other babies on the unit. I felt ungrateful in the same way that one might see a petulant teenager who doesn’t have the latest iPhone.
Sleep deprivation began to feed into my paranoia. I started to feel like Elias was screaming because I had messed up somewhere down the line. Was it because I had a bad pregnancy? Was it because the pandemic got in the way? I connected all the negative dots in my head to create an illusion, when the reality was Elias was crying because he was a baby. Deep down I knew it wasn’t anything I was doing, but trying to get this into my stubborn brain wasn’t light work.
Constant screaming is definitely a modern form of torture. Aside from the damage to your ear drums, it can also chisel away at your mental health rapidly- it’s okay to admit this. If you’re reading this because you are an exhausted parent, then know it’s okay to fall on your ass some days. It’s okay to admit that you don’t always enjoy time with your baby. It’s not all about tummy time and baby smiles. Sometimes it’s complete shit and you are ready to go back to work in a heartbeat. After all, it’s probably easier.
Everyone knows just how much I love my son. But there is no shame in looking at him and thinking you know what, sometimes you are high maintenance. After all, father like son?