No, not you! This post’s about something that babies do a lot and which can send you to the brink of madness: crying.
When the little one arrives, you’re used to the fact that babies cry. “Oh it won’t be so bad.” Sunshine sounded like a baby goat when he wailed during the first few days – bottom lip quivered and then off he went. No fun. But hey, he’s a baby right?
There is one common misconception that adults have (especially those without children or those whose children have grown up): that bubba’s crying because he/she’s sad. Out come the comments of “Oh, Sunshine, what’s the matter then? Why are you crying?”. For myself, these comments drive me nuts!
(Side anecdote – a while ago, I had taken Sunshine off to the supermarket in the car. You know, change of scene, breath of fresh air, etc. etc. He was sleeping peacefully and then woke up as we wheeled around the shop. By the time we reached the checkout, he was sobbing loudly and then started to wail. Oh great… Now everyone’s looking! Then, a stop at the in-store bakery. I’d best not describe the noises he made there. Some old granny looked at him and did the “Coochie coochie coo” bit and the “Aww, what’s up little one?”. I turned my head, gave a curt “He’s hungry and we need to get home as quickly as possible.”, paid for the bread and marched speedily out of the store, other people moving aside as I raced out with a bawling child. (He WAS hungry too!))
So why IS he crying? Simple: it’s the in-built way for babies to communicate. They cannot yet speak, nor control their voices, but they CAN communicate through blubbing. They do indeed cry in various ways. There’s the whiney cry of being tired or the high-pitched, ear-splitting cry of hunger or pain (which, in a baby, is the same thing – really!). (Supposedly, there’s the cry of needing a nappy changed, but T. just grins and smiles until M. opens up his vest and notices the large brown stain!)
Ever heard of the Dunstan Baby Language? No, I didn’t think you had! Well guys, here’s the method of understanding your child and knowing exactly what he/she wants, offering the chance of months of peace and quiet and happiness. It all sounds actually very sensible (check out this interview with the lady: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WB0107rZXA). However, you’ll notice two things: 3 of the sounds (meh, heh and eh) are pretty flippin’ similar and also the exact way to find out her method is to, ahem, buy the book/DVD. We tried it on Sunshine (without having bought anything, obviously!). The results were, shall we say, disappointing. Oh sure, he made a plethora of noises, but was that an “Ow”, a “Heh” or a “Meh”? Did the sound match up to what actually kept him happy? Not really.
Baby’s crying will hurt. No, no, not him or her. But YOU. As adults, we have an in-built reaction to the sound of an infant crying, as we think that it needs protection. When it won’t stop, you feel unwell, you get VERY irritable, very quickly. The sound, as I have said before, comes from the deepest pit of hell. What do you do? Well, if it’s feeding, get that food, asap. If it’s sleep, you might have a bit more trouble, as a baby won’t go to sleep on command.
That is possibly why we chaps have a few problems in this regard. Because we look for solutions to problems (another thing sorted out by Mother Nature), in order to protect our home, we try to reason with the child (“Hey, no need to cry, you’ve got everything you need. Everything is alright. D’ya hear?! EVERYTHING is alright.”). But a baby can’t understand you yet and will keep on crying until it gets what it needs. Of course, in us, and I was no exception, that leads to “Hey you little dickens, how many more $&/(/”/(& times?! You have EVERYTHING you need and you’re driving me ROUND THE TWIST! For goodness sake, turn off the waterworks, realise you’re ok and SHUT THE /()$%/==)§/$ UP!!!!!!!!”
Worst place for this? In the car *shudder*. We live in a market town in Southern Germany, which is a charming place. When we go shopping in the town centre, it’s about a 5-minute drive back home again. Those 5 minutes can take you to the door of the straitjacket tailor. (The same has recently started when we come back from my parents-in-law on a Sunday – a massive *10* minutes from here!). Sunshine bawls, yells, wails, screams and then shifts gear into sounds which make you think he’s drowning or choking. What can you do about it?
Well, nothing. The child HAS to be in a car seat. You, as the driver, can’t just stop in the middle of the road and feed or change a nappy. You have to put up with it. Suddenly, the routine drive, where you would otherwise hum along to a tune on the radio, becomes a desperate dash for survival. M. and I have both said that it should be possible, when you have a baby, to have a special red lamp and siren fitted to your car. Large neon letters would flash for all to see “Emergency! Baby crying!”, meaning that cars would stop dilly-dallying at the traffic lights and get out of your way!
Just ensure that, when you get home, the baby’s needs are attended to right away. That means teamwork between you and your wife/partner. If the baby needs a breast-feed, you empty the car and do all the necessary stuff. It all takes a bit of planning and you’ll find that, although the first few times will drive you nearly insane, you’ll get used to it. Be prepared to be irritable and don’t give in to it. (Although how our drive on holiday in a month will be, I shudder to think…)
It should also be noticed that the crying changes over time. At first, the baby will cry for several hours at a time (Sunshine used to turn the waterworks on at about 8.30 in the evening and cry solidly for 2 hours), but with the “I’m so small, I can’t make a very loud noise” cry. The amount will generally be reduced over time, but the volume and pitch will rise. Sunshine has recently given us a few awful evenings, where he wouldn’t drop off and screamed the place down – causing me to Google why NOT having children is a good thing (honestly, I did!).
So, is it already time to contact that adoption agency and move to the back woods where no-one knows you’ve failed as parents? No, of course not! One thing I did find helpful, as we passed through the “worst”, was this website: http://www.purplecrying.info/information-for-dads.php. Check it out. You’ll see many of the things I’ve been saying. It helped me to *rationalise* what was happening.
To sum up – crying is not because they’re sad (sorry, well-meaning old biddie at the bakers…), crying is communication. Babies have only a few needs, but will scream for them as if being burned alive. You must keep CALM and try and work it out. Cover the bases (food, nappy, sleep, discomfort) and, if you can’t manage or work out what the problem is, take a few minutes away from bubba (put them in a safe place, where nothing can happen) and collect yourself. It’s ok, it’s human to feel bad when your baby cries!