Baby’s cries, Mama’s guilt: When do you let him cry?

Well, things got easier…and then they got hard again…oh boy, this mama is learning that this dance is of the two-steps-forward, one-step-back variety.

Sometimes I have nothing to give. I mean, I can’t even muster the strength and energy to soothe him. I can’t believe I am saying that, but it has happened, and it’s horrible. I feel guilty, but I cannot attend to him in those moments. And there’s no one here to trade off to. When DH comes home from work, he is utterly spent, and on top of that, he is putting together a giant application for a job in NC right now (more on that soon). I am trying to help him with it—both of us zombies. He definitely does feedings and a change and some soothing, but it doesn’t feel like I get much of a break.

Sometimes I’m so tired that when I speak I slur my words incomprehensibly. I actually sound blotto drunk. Which I wish I was.

I realize that there are times when a) nothing I do soothes him, not feeding, not changing, not holding, not the five S’s, not white noise, not…well, you get the picture; or b) I literally have nothing left in me, it’s like a car that has no gas in its tank, and I simply cannot move. My physical stamina has a limit, and I’ve reached it a few times. I honestly didn’t realize how much physical stamina was going to be part of being a new mother. I hate it when I can’t physically give him what he needs, because at these times I know that he probably would calm down and be a happy baby if I could rock him forever. But I can’t. I try putting him in the sling or the wrap, but oftentimes he doesn’t like it in there. He is a very wriggly little thing and does not like to have his head “trapped” in anything. I try letting his head pop out and support it with my hand, but the whole situation just doesn’t last very long (unless we are outside of the house, I’ve noticed, hmmm). The swing is short-lived comfort and sometimes he just hates being in it…

But sometimes I have to put him down. Even when I’m physically doing okay, I have needs of my own that I have to take care of. Peeing, dressing, grooming at least a little, making and eating food, taking my vitamins, doing my blood thinner shot. Reaching out to others through my blog. It is remarkable how difficult it is to take care of my most basic needs. But I know that if I do take care of these things, I will be a better mama to him. Hilariously, I tried to explain that to him this morning. That I was taking a shower so I could feel better, run my sore muscles under hot water (and coax my infection to drain more, ugh), so I could be a better mama to him. His response? Well, you know what it was.

If you have little ones—did you/do you ever let him or her just cry until he/she stops? Both during the day and at night?

Also—I cannot seem to manage to get out of the house. I’ve been in here for almost three days straight. Starting to feel a bit wiggy.

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  1. California mom

     /  January 8, 2015

    It’s ok. You’re ok. Usually cio refers to sleep training, which I think is perfectly ok and not harmful, but your son is too young for that. But sometimes you need to eat shower etc. and it’s ok to put your baby in his crib during that time. You might call out that mommy needs to eat and will be with him in a few minutes etc. he’ll be fine. Don’t believe the Sears BS that a little crying will cause psych/neuro damage. It’s also ok if you have nothing left to give to let him be a little while. You need to take care of you.

    My first was a terrible sleeper and hard to soothe. It was very rough but it did get better. We did sleep training at 6 mo and since then (she’s 4) she has slept like a dream. For the future I recommend the Ferber book and Bedtiming. Very useful.

    Hang in there. There will be times when it seems you have it all figured out and then it gets hard again. Hard to hear right now but these are the hardest months. It DOES get better, promise.

  2. Sally

     /  January 8, 2015

    Have you tried the bouncy chair- some babies prefer it over the swing- i know it was the only way i managed to take a shower. Some people also swear by this rocking-crib type thing- not sure what it is called as i only saw it after our friends bought it. Good luck!

  3. Oh those first weeks are HARD. When I’d feel at my breaking point, my mom would always tell me “sometimes babies just cry”. You cant always soothe it. If they are fed, clean and you’ve tried some usual soothing tricks, its ok if he cries. I dont know if Id call it “cry it out” but more like “let him fuss “. Its especially ok if you feel at your limit. Put him somewhere safe and take a shower. Or strap his crying self into a stroller and take a loud walk. He will be ok. Even if he cries. This stage doesnt last forever, you can do it mama!

  4. As a mama to twins, 100% on my own all day till they go to bed and my DH gets home, this is something I had to face up to pretty early on. I mean there’s only one of me. I felt guilty all the time, but you know my girls are 9 months now and everyone remarks on how self-sufficient and mellow they are. I see them waiting for me to finish doing things or tending to the other twin. Unless they’re really hungry or tired they’re pretty peaced out. I think they’ve learned to soothe themselves. Don’t look at it like you’re harming him, if he has all his needs taken care of, at some point he has to learn how to calm himself down. Trust me he’s not going to feel abandoned by you. It’s not really how they see things. They’re really in the moment, they don’t sit around dwelling on – why didn’t mommy pick me up? Right there with you cooped up btw. It’s bloody freezing here and I’m basically stuck inside trying to keep these girls and myself entertained.

  5. All of this is very reassuring! I’m feeling pretty alone, and nothing is seeming good enough…even though I know deep down I am doing good enough. (By the way, i was referring in this post to the “cradle hold” with the wrap, which is all he has tolerated…until now! I just tried the position where his face is to my chest, and his little froggy legs are “M” shape, toes out, and he has tolerated it for a full half hour! Progress! Well, progress at least for today, who knows what tomorrow will bring.)

    It’s so good to be reminded that babies don’t dwell. they aren’t complext like us, they don’t hold grudges, they don’t think like us. yes! i need to keep remembering that.

    i think i got rainbow-eyed from those two or three amazing days we had where it seemed like things had gotten so much easier….it was hard for me to not cling to it. and things are generally easier, the formula and stuff really has helped. i think what happens sometimes is that he gets hungrier, and really wants to eat tons. and we generally follow his cues, as our pediatrician recs, knowing that they go through periods of wanting and needing more food and growth spurts. but his digestive system can’t seem to handle the input. so yesterday, he was crazy-boy, definitely in pain from the increased food and not being able to process it, his tummy tight and distended. today he is eating very little by contrast.

    the sears book is annoying me. some of the stories are so over-the-top. like the one that describes how the son becomes increasingly distant from his parents throughout his youth and adult life, starting with the time he was an infant and they let him cry.

    sears also says on his website, about the hypoallergenic formula we’re using: “the smell of the formula is enough to make any woman want to re-lactate.” or something like that. what if that isn’t an option, asshole?

    anyway, back to it. thanks for chiming in so much. you’re saving my sanity. oh, and if you can think of the rocking crib thingy’s name, i’d love to hear it! i’m on amazon almost every day (dangerous for new and frantic moms, that site, but also so helpful).

    • Jk

       /  January 9, 2015

      Okay, missy…first of all, you need some sleep. This weekend, please have DH tend to ST for the better part of a night so that you can regain a little sanity. I mean it. It’s important.
      Second, babies fuss and it’s good that they learn to self soothe. Both of my babies have gone to daycare and as a result have learned to self soothe because they can’t be held every second when the ratio is 4:1. If ST is fed and changed, it’s okay that he be left to cry some times.
      Finally, the rocking crib is called a rock n play by fisher price. They are a god send. They are safe for sleeping and really really great for babies (like mine) with reflux because it keeps them inclined. They are sold on Amazon and are also available at Walmart, Target, etc. Get one!
      Finally, you are doing great! No guilt, okay?! XOXO

  6. MGB

     /  January 8, 2015

    Oh …. Those early days are hard! My first had colic and reflux and he cried all day for the first 8 weeks and then it slowly got better day by day. They are much to young to cry it out and in my experience the more they cry and the more exhausted they are the worse the day goes. ( your going to have days and times where you HAVE to lay him down for a few min and he’ll just cry until you return). I highly recommend that you get out of the house everyday – I had the colicky January baby and it saved my sanity and my soul. ( I walked aimlessly the streets of NYC). I’d borrow every item you can think of from friends until you find one he likes – He will like something!!! Try bouncy chairs, Mamaroo , swings – several models, fisher price pack and play. My oldest son loved the fisher price cradle swing and my youngest hates it but loves the Mamaroo. Also experiment with a few different bottle types – I used dr browns with all 5 of our babies and my youngest ( also reflux but no colic) would act like a crazy man when feeding, he would grunt, arch and cry. I changed to the lifefactory stage 1 and magically he was all better. Also watch for wardrobe clues – I had babies who hated swaddles, who hated hand mittens and one who hate gowns bc his feet got stuck but I learned to see watch for clues and see if something is annoying him. Motherhood is trial and error and it’s mentally and physically exhausting but so amazing.

    Send you lots of hugs and praying your days get better!

  7. I do like the airlines tell us: my oxygen mask before baby’s. Sometimes that means showering NOT in a hurry. Sometimes it means going to the bathroom even though baby is crying. Remember, crying never killed a baby. Sometimes you just have to put baby down and walk away for five minutes, take care of yourself so you can take of him!

  8. There is nothing worse than hearing your baby cry when you’re exhausted. We’ve had a rough couple if weeks here too but realised it was reflux. I know it’s a bit of a banner ailment that everyone mentions but we confirmed it at our paediatrician check up on Wed. Does he show signs of that?
    We try all the usual things when Edie is hysterical but yes sometimes there’s nothing you can do.
    What has been a godsend is a) her pacifier b) a bath c) infants friend/gripe water d) infacol in every 3rd bottle e) 1ml of mylanta before every feed in advice of the paed. Since doing all this we are seeing a much happier baby. I assume you’ve ruled out reflux/silent reflux?
    All the best, I feel for you – it’s really tough sometimes but remember it will pass xx

  9. Mercedes

     /  January 8, 2015

    I also recommend the Fisher Price Rock and Play. My baby is 7 weeks old and that’s the only place where we get her to sleep. It was a life saver for us.

  10. With twins you just have no choice!! You HAVE to put one down even if they are crying! And they survive! Put him somewhere safe and give yourself 5-10 minutes to eat and pee!

  11. amelie

     /  January 9, 2015

    Sometimes holding my baby made her more frantic. My pedi compared it to me having someone in my face all of the time – sometimes even babies just need a break. All the “soothing” was overwhelming her poor underdeveloped nervous system. Letting her cry for a few minutes actually calmed her as did putting her in a stroller and walking her instead of constantly touching her. My sister’s baby was even worse – when he got overtired there was no soothing – he had to cry (scream!!) until he fell as. Both kids are thriving today. Take care of you – baby needs a calm momma and HE WILL BE FINE – he is well loved.

  12. Oh man… I had a reminder of those days tonight with teething. Over an hour straight of cryyyying with no soothing in site. Is she sick? Hot? Hurt? Losing it? Ahhh! Nothing is more stressful than being starving/having to pee/with an infection and having to convince a newborn to just stop.

    Thinking of you and wishing I could help somehow!

  13. You are not the only one! I’ve been there myself and I’m sure many others have too. I was fortunate to have DH and my mom help out in the initial days but eventually they had to go back to their routines and I felt helpless. I did (however hard it was) teach my daughter to self soothe 6m. It was tougher on me I think and now we’re both in a happier place. I think your baby is still young but still no harm in leaving her down for you to eat, shower …do the basics you know. I would’ve dismissed anyone suggesting that to me when DD was that young but in retrospect I should’ve …to keep my sanity. If I’m calm and less frustrated, she is calm and less cranky. That’s just how it works. So do take your take time to compose yourself and that way you’ll be able soothe her better.

    Hang in there…it will get better.

  14. Leah

     /  January 9, 2015

    I believe that if you have tried everything to soothe your baby and it’s not working that it’s very possible that his crying is his way of discharging stress. Living life even for an infant can be stressful (nothing that you as a parent are doing at all).

    When my daughter was little before she could even talk, I found that there were days she when she was just so cranky not matter what I would do. There were times that I would eventually get impatient with all the whining and misery. I would raise my voice which would cause her to get upset and just start crying. I would just sit and wait out her crying and after about 10 minutes of a good cry her mood was lifted and
    we would go on with our day.
    I think babies, children and adults need a good outlet to release stress and tension. For babies it could be their only way.

  15. I had a baby with colic and I had mastitis ten times between my kids. Can you get any help? If you can hire someone to come in during the week a couple of times for a couple of hours, that would make a huge difference to you. There is also a huge advantage to bottle feeding. Your baby can be fed by anyone at any time. I couldn’t get out because I had to get naked to feed, everything had to be perfectly quiet and I had to be totally calm. Try walking really early in the morning. Just getting out can make a big difference. Your baby is way too young to cry-it-out and you will have to make that choice on your own. Waiting a little bit is OK but also try to be creative. Maybe you can shower while he sits in a bouncy seat or in a bath chair in the shower.

    You have joined the club. It’s rough. I remember not related other new mothers at all if they had easy babies. I had nothing like that. Please know it passes. This is very much a temporary state. Try to get some help. Take volunteers. Even finding a mother’s helper could be good if you want to stay nearby.

  16. Julia

     /  January 11, 2015

    We had an advice jar at out baby shower. Someone wrote: “when you’re at your limit, it’s okay to put the baby in his crib and just let him cry”, great advice, i think.

    I feel like we are in very similar places right now. Hang in there, and I will too.

  17. I don’t know you and I’m sorry if I sound a little motherly here but please keep a handle on your mood. If this is a manageable case of the baby blues, OK. If this is something more severe, take it seriously. I remember feeling really angry that no one would talk about how hard it is to take care of a little baby (especially with colic). You are not crazy or abnormal but it is abnormal to be stuck with that little person BY YOURSELF. We are not meant to do it that way. You should be surrounded by a loving family with lots of helpful men and women ready to take the baby along with responsible older children. That is normal. We live in a messed up society and when it’s rough with a baby, it can be brutal.


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