This week my wife has a really busy week with work. This means we could only meet for lunch 1 day, and she has some late evenings. Last night for example, she came home at 20:00. Tonight, she was able to be home for 2 hours before going again. This means for the most part this week it’s just “the guys”.
Last night, the little guy got really fussy in the late afternoon. He ate at 16:30, then 17:30, then 18:15 he seemed to want more. He usually is not like this, but I fed him nonetheless, thinking “wow, he’s really going for it tonight!” Then, as confident as I had become in my ability to read my son’s needs, it went out the window as the night progressed. There’s no easier way to shake your confidence than having your baby freaking out when you are trying to console him. I fed him because he was crying wildly, and would only calm down when he saw me preparing the bottle, and when he was eating from the bottle. Then, he became less satisfied by the bottle, and eventually was crying in pain.
So after 1,5 hours of him
crying “SCREAMING!!!!” it became clear that this was not just an issue of being fussy, but it was pain – likely from gas that did not come out during a burp, or from being too full. Once I heard the “pain cry” (a horrible high-pitched shriek), it was off for the Gripe Water, and 10 minutes later everything was ok with him finally releasing gas (a great effect of the gripe water), and he was sleeping soundly 30 minutes later and into the night.
Tonight my wife came home for 2 hours and had to leave at 19:00. It was great because we were able to eat and have a little “family time” – even gave the guy a little bath. Then, before she left, she fed him – and as he ate he fell asleep, so she put him in the crib. Literally within a minute of her leaving, he started crying. Maybe he was woken up by the door slamming, I thought. No, actually, I now think it was her voice no longer being there that woke him up. I realize now that while I have put him to bed in the last 4 months, there has always been a special part of the nighttime routine that my wife cherishes (and I also now realize so does my son). These last 2 evenings, I have found out the importance of that routine.
When the little guy woke up tonight, I tried to soothe him to get him back to sleep: no, he was not having it. I tried to play with him, thinking maybe he didn’t want to sleep: no, the crying continued. I tried to show him different things around the house: no, louder crying continued. I tried to burp him: extremely loud crying. You name it, I tried it: no, more crying. I tried to feed him: yes, that seemed to work. Then I realized I was going down the dangerous road of the night before – I can’t just feed him when he is crying, even if he does seem to calm down.
I realized something when it comes to the feeding in the evening with the little guy. I am 99% sure that in a feeding situation like this, where he has just eaten but seems to be needing more, it is the calming effect of being on the breast that he is going for – and we use the Nuk First Choice nipples for the Nuk bottles, which simulate the breast more than any other brand (he would not use the other bottles on the market, so we had to buy these super-hard-to-get latex nipples – a different story for another time).
Anyway, I learned from last night that it would not be optimal to give him more food and deal with a baby that is uncomfortable later, so I was careful not to feed him too much tonight. But the crying continued. It continued when I used my magical “shush method” that during the day can calm him down in a flash. It continued no matter how I moved or swayed, or spoke or whispered. It continued when I had the lights off, the lights on. It is amazing and impressive to me at just how much and how loud and persistently he can cry if he puts his mind to it.
Finally I came to a hard truth: sometimes a baby just wants their mom. Especially if it is during a time when their mom is usually there – part of the “routine” they might rely on for comfort. But the reality was, mom wasn’t here, and she will also not always be here at this time of the day. I was not going to interrupt her, either. Basically, I had to deal with this, now, tonight. This will not become a “thing” that gets in the way of us all living our lives as we need to.
So, with a screaming, wailing baby in my arms, I thought about it: What does my wife do every night for him when she puts him to bed? Answer: She sings him a song – the same song she was even singing to her belly every night when she was pregnant. It’s a Swedish song that involves trolls (yes, trolls – not stars or lambs, but trolls). At the end of the song, it goes “aye aye aye aye puff, aye aye aye aye puff, aye aye aye aye puff puff puff”. I don’t know the words to the song as they are in Swedish, but I will be learning them now. But when you have a baby whose cries are so loud that you are losing your hearing you will try anything, and you make it work. So, I just started singing “da dumm ba ba bummm dumm huumm humm, etc.” to the tune of the song and did the “puff puff puff” part, too. And, it worked. Slowly he stopped crying, and started sleeping. Then I put him in the bed, and continued to sing, and slowly he stopped stirring and slept more peacefully. Now he is sleeping in there, looking content and happy, and my ears are healing.
There is a lot to be said about the parenting team. We need each other’s unique approach and “roles” in parenting, whatever they may be – and the baby needs both of us, too. I might be able to do all the things to keep him alive and developing during the day, and today I learned what I need to do to put him to bed in a way that is least disruptive. But I will never replace the special comfort that he gets from his mom (and I do not want to, either). Just like his mom will never replace the unique comforts he gets from me (and she does not want to, either). We both have our time and our way to comfort the little guy, and over the last 2 days, I learned that a little troll song and mom’s comforting voice mean the world to this little human we are raising.