I have a very fussy baby. Considering my limited experience—having only the one baby—I‘m still not entirely sure if this is just how infants are, or if mine is particularly cranky. But he is definitely fussy. I hesitate to use the word colic, which, according to the internet is when a baby cries for more than three hours in a row, at least three days in a week, for three weeks. That sounds terrible. Like, you end up going on a murderous rampage terrible.
No, Tommy usually only cries off and on for about an hour at a time. And it’s almost always when he is due for a nap or at bedtime. He just refuses to go to sleep no matter how sleepy he is. So that’s what, like a total of four hours of crying? I can totally handle that. (Apropos of nothing, I’ve started sending out my resume for full-time jobs.)
I’ve tried everything. I own three copies of Happiest Baby on the Block as well as the DVD and consistently use the 5 Ss. Helpful, but Tommy’s still crying. I perused this list of 62 Tricks to Get a Sleeping Baby. Informative, but Tommy’s still crying. I watched this video about the Dunstan Baby Language, which helps you figure out why babies are crying. Interesting, but Tommy’s still crying.
Nothing gets rid of the crying entirely, but there are some things that have helped me cope with the situation.
- A shake-it-off attitude.
Yes, I am sort of referencing that Taylor Swift Why not? It’s totally catchy. And embodies the feeling I need to embrace when handling a baby whose behavior often makes me feel like he’s accusing doing this whole mom thing poorly. Shake that shit off. He’s just being a jerk because babies don’t know how to chill out. I’ve addressed all of the possible reasons he’s crying: he’s not hungry, wet, gassy, uncomfortable, or neglected. He’s just tired and wants me to soothe him. So I do what I can. Sometimes it takes way longer than I’d like for him to let himself sleep. Other times he goes right down and I feel like a parenting rock star.
- A binky.
This one is sort of a no-brainer to veteran moms, but I was resistant to start using a pacifier at first because I read so much about newborns and nipple confusion and stuff. Well, that lasted all of about three days. Tommy LOVES sucking, and he doesn’t have the coordination to get his fingers into his mouth. The only problem is that he drops or even launches the thing across the room about every five minutes. If I could strap a binky to my son’s face and not get in trouble with the authorities, I totally would.
- This Fisher Price Cradle ‘n Swing.
Yes, the damned thing is called “My Little Snugapuppy.” I hate these cutesy baby items with puppy and bunny themes. Can’t I have a dragon-themed cradle? Anywho. The swing has saved my life. I wasn’t going to get one. It costs a lot, takes up a ton of space, and should only be useful for a few months if all the books are correct. But there is no place for idiotic rational thoughts like these when dealing with a screaming baby. We bought this cradle on the day that Robin came home from work early because I was crying because Tommy wouldn’t stop crying. The swing plugs into the wall and will swing the baby in whichever direction (side-to-side or top-to-toe) you choose for as long as you need it to. This is amazing because it recreates the calming sensation you get when rocking him cradled in your own arms, but you don’t have to give up ownership of your body for hours at a time to do it. And, yes, there are days when Tommy requires rocking for hours at a time. On at least two occasions, I’ve put Tommy in the swing and eaten dinner while continuing to shush and pat him. Without this swing, I might literally starve to death. Okay, that’s going a bit far. But it does help me feel a little calmer and more in control of a situation that causes a lot of anxiety.
- Frasier on Hulu Plus.
I can’t explain how vital it is for me to have some sort of mental escape. I’ve always delved into books, movies, TV shows, and audiobooks for calming, entertainment, or distraction. Sitcoms on Hulu are my go-to during the day. I just finished the entire series of 30 Rock, so now I’ve started watching Frasier. At night I listen to a series of clever murder-mystery audiobooks that I download for free from the library. When the going gets rough in reality, I turn to witty dialogue.
- A jogging stroller.
I love walking. It is my preferred method of exercise. And now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, it gets me out of the house and allows me to casually run into other moms around the neighborhood. The jogging stroller is integral to being able to do this with Tommy in tow. As an added benefit, the feeling of being pushed in the stroller tends to put the little guy to sleep. I have no idea what I’ll do when the weather turns, but I’ll have to figure something out. I’ve been cooped up all day today because of rain, and I’m just lucky that today is one of Tommy’s calmer days.
I realize, looking at this list, that Tommy is already a slave to ridiculous American consumerism. He might as well get used to it, I guess.
In any case, I’m getting used to this whole baby thing. And I guess it’s pretty much worth it. Especially when I get one of these moments.