Last night was hard. When I say hard I mean I broke down crying more than once, and finally figured out the line of questioning they give you at the hospital.
I'm going to sound like a horrible mother saying this, but I promised to be completely honest in this blog, and I'm going to stick to that.
When you call the hospital because something is wrong, if you're a new mother, they always ask you if you've had any thoughts of harming yourself or the baby. Last night, around 5:30 am, on two hours of intermittent sleep, I broke down crying. I sat there and stared at my baby, with tears running down my cheeks, listening to him wail for what seemed like absolutely no reason, and just wanted it to stop. I would have done almost anything for just a few hours of quiet and some sleep. Anything. And that's when it hit me. This is why they ask. Because at some point you will be staring at that open, crying mouth, ready to suck the soul and brain out of you along with the milk, and in a half-delirious state you will think "I need to put the baby down or I will do something I shouldn't" but there will be no "putting the baby down."
Newborns don't cry for attention they way older babies do. There is no 'letting him cry it out' for newborns. Newborns cry because something is wrong. If you let a newborn "cry it out" you get a newborn with a sore throat, which makes them cry harder, on top of what was originally wrong.
There are 11 reasons why newborn babies cry. They are:
1. Hungry (duh). Most people see this as their go-to fix-it for newborns. Not a great idea. This can teach a baby that food fixes everything.
2. Tummy Problems. Most babies will cry to be burped at some point. They will also spit up, which can be mildly distressing (who like puking, srsly?) and then there's the dreaded colic.
3. Too cold
4. Too hot
5. Too much going on. Everyone needs so quiet time in their lives.
6. Not enough going on. The womb is a loud loud loud place. Sometimes babies need a ton of white noise to calm down. Sometimes they just get bored.
7. Need to suck (different from being hungry). Sucking releases a hormone called CCK, which calms babies.
8. Hair Tourniquet. Check your baby's hands and feet for a hair wrapped around a finger or toe. A hair tourniquet can cut off circulation, and be very painful. Babies don't have the coordination to unwrap, and even if they did they wouldn't understand where the pain is coming from.
9. Need to be changed.
10. Need to be held. Please realize this is different from wanting to be held. There was a horrible study done in Germany where they gave babies everything they "needed" excepting physical affection. The babies died. Your baby needs to know you love him/her. They need to be held and hear your heartbeat every now and then.
11. Actually sick or in pain. If you've tried everything else on the list, take your baby's temperature, assess how long (s)he has been crying, and call the doctor. At the very least, you'll get some sort of reassurance that everything is actually fine.
Now, with all that covered, let us return to 5:30 in the morning. When everything has been tried, and you know your baby isn't sick, and all you want to do is sleep, or cry, or wheel the bassinet out onto the balcony and go back inside and put in earplugs and drink a bottle of wine... ask for help.
You don't have to be strong enough to do this on your own. No one is really strong enough to do this on their own. People who try go completely insane and end up driving their cars into lakes. You have to be strong enough to ask for help. You have to be strong enough to take a deep breath, put aside your pride, and say "I can't deal with this right now. I need sleep. I need someone to hold the baby/wash the dishes/make dinner/ do the laundry/clean the cat boxes/do the shopping because I need to go take a shower and cry my eyes out and then take a nap"
And that takes more strength than some of us have. I am particularly prone to trying to tough it out. When I told my father for the first time that I was pregnant, he told me that there would be no shame in not having the baby. That terminating the pregnancy would be ok, no one would think less of me, and that it didn't mean I wouldn't be able to have kids later, when I was more prepared. Now, I may be LDS, but I am a relatively progressive liberal moderate, and I'm pro-choice, but I realized something. No one ELSE might think less of me, but *I* would think less of me. Knowing that it was going to be hard, I decided to see this through, and have the baby. So of course I feel like i have to live up to that. I said I was going to do it, and I knew i was signing on for no sleep and crying babies and gosh darn it, that's what I'll do. I'll deal with it myself.
Except I can't. I need help. And there's no shame in that.
So on the 25th when I go see my doctor for my 6 week check-up I'm going to talk about postpartum depression, about feeling overwhelmed, about tears that crop up for no reason, and feelings of inadequacy. I'm going to express concern about medication, but I'm going to listen to what she says. And hopefully I'm going to feel better.