Baby Steps

I didn’t do so well last night.

Sage was screaming before she was fed. Sage was screaming while she was fed. Sage was screaming after she was fed.

I tried burping her (lap position, over-the-arm position, on-the-shoulder position, a few improvised positions that may have defied physics). I tried rocking her. I tried swaddling her (with a blanket and with a garment specifically designed for that). I tried talking to her. I tried singing to her. I tried her bouncy seat. I tried tummy time. I tried the pacifier. I tried distracting her. I tried differing the warmth of her clothing. I tried ignoring her for several minutes.

She eventually settled down, but ONLY IF she was in my arms. Which, you know — awwwwww, cute and all, but not exactly conducive to getting myself to bed. So when I’d set her down to run the dogs out for one last time, or to lie down myself, I generally had two or three minutes maximum before she was back at Full Red Alert.

And of course, after two hours of this, when Ann got up and came in, it seemed like all she had to do was look at her and Sage was ready to go to sleep. I was so hyper-tired that I was at my wit’s end. I was teary-eyed and practically dizzy.

I felt like a failure, even though intellectually I knew it wasn’t true. Every daddy goes through something like this.

We’re minutes away from her feeding again. My goal is a simple one: do something better than last night.

We’ll get there.

And, Sage: this won’t be the last time you drive me nuts. I’m sure I’ll return the favor someday. And I know that neither of us will mean to cause the other any agony.

Except I am totally going to wake you up in the middle of the night some time for no particular reason when you’re a teenager. You’ve been given fair warning.

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5 Responses to Baby Steps

  1. Stevie says:

    The simple fact that you tried, and tried, and tried, and didn’t just go running for Ann really says a lot about what a dedicated father you are. It gets easier….then they start teething. =) haha.

  2. Helloheather says:

    It doesn’t sound to me like you did anything poorly last night, that you could purposefully improve upon tonight. It sounds like you did really well. You tried so many different things. You didn’t, like, chuck her in the backyard (unless you didn’t mention that one.) The truth is that you (or any of us) may do every single thing “right”, and the baby is still going to cry. Scream. Sometimes. Sometimes, that’s just what they do.

    I used to think (not consciously, exactly, but somewhere inside) that if I did every single thing right, then the baby would not cry. And that if the baby kept crying, then clearly that was a sign of SOME kind of failure on my part. But, eventually, I had to let that assumption go. Because sometimes you can do everything right, and the baby is still going to cry. And that SUCKS. I KNOW. But it’s not an indication of failure on your part.

    It sounds like what she really wanted was to be close to you (or at least, what she decided she wanted by the end of two hours was just to be close to you.). And, yeah, that makes it hard to lie down. I KNOW it does. But it takes away some of the mystery of why she was screaming, right? This time, she wanted to be held. (Babies want to be held.) (Except when they don’t.) (Ha.) I remember spending a lot of middle-of-the-night time pacing around the house in the dark with a very awake baby Nathan, because it was the only thing that would satisfy him. (I spent a lot of time in a half-stupor, thinking about decorating the various rooms we’d walk through.)

    You and I have been friends for a lot of years, now, so I hope I can presume to say this: I know you like solutions (solutions = yay!). And I know you like knowing the answer (who doesn’t?) And I know you like things clear-cut (so easy to see!). And boy oh boy, I hope I’m not going to piss you off by pointing this out, but…dude. Babies are very rarely clear-cut. It will almost certainly happen, over and over, that you think you get things figured out, and then the baby will change the game on you. Without telling you! I have wished, many times, for a simple “If I do this, then the end result will be that” sort of system, with my kids. But it doesn’t really work that way. I have wished it would. But, no.

    You are doing a great job. I can tell, from reading what you write. You are in the game. You are being creative, and being persistent, and trying everything in your bag of tricks. That is all any of us can do. And sometimes the baby is still going to cry. And that SUCKS. Absolutely. But it’s not a failure on your part.

  3. sinwi says:

    It does get easier. Now, when Katherine is crying hysterically, it can usually be solved by letting her get dressed in the seasonally inappropriate dress and tights she is wanting oooohhhhh so badly. Or the chocolate thing that she wants. So I know the solution, but can’t in good conscience put it into play…. 🙂

  4. improvmantra says:

    This was so good for me to read. My adopted daughter is about 3 days older than Sage. Most days I feel like a failure at some point during the day. My friend with older kids keeps say, “is she still alive? Then you are successful!” But, Yeah, this whole parenting thing: hard. I’ve heard it gets easier after about three months. Hang in there!

  5. Kendra says:

    What Helloheather said. Yeah. No fair judging yourself on a scale that is constantly changing with the whims of a tiny vertebrate. You will never guess right all the time.

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