Pain-Sharing

Baby feet

Baby feet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before diving in to this post, please read this article from the New York Times.  It’s very closely related to what I’m about to share with you.

Having Baby I was (and still is) an insanely cool experience. Sustaining life inside of me and then bringing that life into the world with the man I love more than anything was nothing short of a miracle. And when I notice the way Baby I’s crooked ears look exactly like mine or how her lips curl into a smile just the shape of A’s, it’s so powerful. Most of the time, she makes me so happy that I feel like my heart will explode into a million tiny pieces.

But there’s a problem.

Baby I will not tolerate A. He cannot play with her. He cannot hold her. He cannot look at her, or she screams until her little lips turn blue. It’s been like this for four solid months.

Before you offer suggestions, let me just point you back to the article I asked you to read in the opener. No, Baby I’s behavior wouldn’t be considered colic, but the outside reactions we get are the same. People, we have heard all of your suggestions and we have tried them. Several times. At this point, I can say with certainty that it’s nothing we’re doing, or we would have fixed it by now. We are also fully aware that it’s just a phase. This does not help, FYI.

And just because I know that people can’t resist asking, here are the answers to your questions:

1. No, Baby I is not always around me. In fact, because of our work schedules, she spends more time with A than with me.

2. Yes, I have tried just letting A hold her until she’s all cried out. See above. We actually have to do this because of how our work schedules are.

3. She’s fed, she’s changed, and he’s tried all different ways of holding her, playing with her, etc. etc. etc.

4. Yes, we have consulted our pediatrician. See the article on colic for how much help doctors are when a patient presents with a condition they have no idea how to treat.

This condition is devastating. So far, we seem to be completely alone in that many babies prefer one parent over the other, but I have never heard of a baby reacting so severely like Baby I does with A. I identify 100% with parents of colicky babies in many, many ways. I wanted you all to read that article because there are several points the author makes that ring so, so true for families like mine:

  • We know we’re not bad parents. We know other people say we’re not bad parents. But when you offer suggestions like “hold her a different way,” you are clearly stating that we’re idiots. Please.
  • There is nothing more crazy-making than constant crying. Don’t be shocked when our faces drop as it starts. It’s not a little crying spell, like typical babies have. It’s a constant reminder that there’s nothing we can do except ride it out.
  • We might overreact when you talk to us about your perfect baby OR your “difficult” baby who will only (insert thing that’s really not so bad here). Sorry. We know that things are difficult for you, too, and that there is always someone else who has it worse, but let’s all try to be sensitive to each other, ok?
  • We’re secretly worried that a.) something’s terribly wrong and/or b.) this is a sign of how the baby will be in the future. Only time can prove us wrong, and that’s scary.
  • We may carry this around with us forever. Especially for A in our situation. I don’t expect his heart to ever fully recover. Yes, everyone who has said that he will melt the minute Baby I comes around, I’m sure he will. But there will be scars. Can you imagine going through the miracle of pregnancy and birth with your wife, loving your newborn baby through spit-up and sleepless nights and 12 diapers a day, only to be rewarded with screaming and utter rejection? That’s A’s reality right now.

Let me state this clearly: I am not looking for pity. This is just life right now, and it will change. I am not looking for controversy. This is not a dig on anyone, just a slice-of-life. And mostly, I am not looking for answers. You did just read the paragraphs above, right?

What I really wanted to do with this post was to bring awareness. So often, people with truly difficult baby situations are overlooked because having a baby is hard either way. Not only that, but babies are incredible blessings. Both of those things are true. But it is incredibly difficult to ride an emotional roller coaster up and down every single day with an upset baby. It starts to seep into your mood, your friendships, and most devastatingly, your marriage. To my friends and family and to the friends and family of people with colicky babies: if you want to help, just offer an open ear. Nothing more. And try to understand our sometimes-wacky behavior. We promise, we have a reason.

And to parents of colicky and otherwise difficult babies: I am right there with you. I am sorry. And I know how long and short a few months can be. We will all get through this.

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4 thoughts on “Pain-Sharing

  1. Thank you for being brave enough to talk about something that I am sure many folk experience but can’t admit/discuss. You will give them hope and strength. Time, patience and love. You both already have them. Add faith when you are scared (as anyone would be at times). Thanks again for the courage to be honest–sending my love and prayers.

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