Our first baby was pretty easy, so far as babies go. Sure, she cried, but she also smiled, and giggled, and cooed. Then came Number Two, who started fussing around week 3 and didn’t stop until she was almost 9 months old. It was AWFUL, an experience I hoped to never relive. But here I sit at 4 AM, with Number Five on my lap, as she quietly whimpers in her sleep. Because, when it comes to fussy babies, this kiddo is a strong contender for the crown. Grumpy babies are exhausting. Physically, emotionally, mentally exhausting. And while clearly I don’t have a miracle cure-all where fussy babies are concerned, I do have a bit of advice for you from a been there, done that, doing it again mom.
It’s not your fault. Trust me on this one. The first thing I did with Number Two was to over-analyze every decision I had made from pregnancy onward, looking for that one thing that tipped the scales toward inconsolably fussy. But here’s the thing. It wasn’t me. You can do pregnancy by the book. You can drastically alter your diet while breastfeeding. You can feed her super special gas reducing, colic calming formula. You can try every trick to comfort and console under the sun. You can do everything right, and still have a fussy baby. So stop blaming yourself.
It’s okay to be honest. This is HUGE. Don’t lie to yourself, and don’t feel like you have to lie to others. I was a big fat liar for quite some time with Number 2, denying the obvious for months. With Number Five, I am brutally honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love this kid and no amount of ear-splitting screaming is going to change that. But she’s a grump. And if you ask me, I’ll tell you so without hesitation. Pretending that she’s a sweet tempered, happy baby, only reinforces the fact that she’s not, which is, quiet frankly, kind of depressing. And, as any sleep deprived new mom will tell you, depression is a slippery slope in the life of a postpartum mama.
It’s okay to ask for help, BUT it’s also okay to say no. All moms need an assist every now and then. New moms especially. Even happy babies are a lot of work, especially when limited by two hands and a finite number of hours in the day. So if someone offers to hold your screaming baby so you can take a breather, by all means say yes, but only if you want to. Because sometimes you’re going to want to say no. No one knows baby like their mama, so trust your instincts and do what’s best for your little one, and for yourself.
It’s okay to walk away. When your eardrums are ready to burst and your sanity is hanging by a thread, take a break. Put baby in her crib and take some time to breathe. A few minutes spent without a crying baby in your arms can be the best thing for you. This was so hard with Number Two. I felt like a rotten mom and an absolutely horrible person. Who walks away from a crying baby?! A mama who is dangerously close to a complete breakdown, that’s who. As someone who has been there, baby will be just fine. And you’ll feel loads better for it.
It’s okay to cry (in fact, sometimes it helps). Over the past 3 months, I’ve cried a lot. I’ve cried because my baby cries. I’ve cried because life is so much harder with an unhappy baby. I’ve cried because the sweet little girl we’d hoped for is not the grumpy little girl we have. Trust me, there’s nothing like a good sob fest to refresh your spirit, as contradictory as that may seem.
It will get better, but it will take time. Every baby is different. Our pediatrician tells me that fussy babies typically peak around 12 weeks, and by 16 weeks are much more mellow. We’ve crossed the 12 week mark and are rapidly approaching week 16 with little to no change evident. Your baby’s time will come, I promise. But it’ll come when it comes, and until it does, no one can pinpoint when that will be.
You are not alone. I leave you with this, because of all the wisdom I can impart, this is the most important. It may seem like yours is the only baby who cries constantly, refuses to sleep, and only manages to smile every once in a while. But I know for a fact that she’s not, because I am right there with you. So hang in there mama. We’re in this together.