Sunday, November 1, 2009

Crash and Burn

When my mother was here, after the birth, she kept telling people that she was waiting for me to crash.

Well, one month after Raphaela's birth, I got to the point where I was so exhausted and so frustrated, that I was actually afraid that I could lose control. Last night, it took two and half hours to put my daughter to sleep. At a certain point, when she started crying again, I immediately put the baby down, and walked out of the room and counted to ten. In a scary way, and in a way that causes me much guilt, I got to a place where I was so exhausted that I could understand how ordinary, normal, intelligent and loving parents get to Shaken Baby Syndrome.

And I have spent all day today feeling guilty about even thinking about it, when it never came to that and never will.

My friend Rachel, who has three children, assures me that this is normal, and that there have been times when she has been crying, as she held her crying baby.

It would have been great, however, if I could have handed her off to someone last night, even for an hour; the most simple luxury of an extra pair of hands is unavailable to me as a single parent.

Savta Shira, Raphaela's adopted Israeli grandmother, came to the house this morning and after I had a solid cry, Shira watched Raphaela for two hours while I took a nap. Afterwards, Shira expressed amazement at how alert and active and interactive this child is, thank G-d, but to steal a quote from Stan Lee, with great power comes great responsibility. And great frustration.


koshergourmetmart said...

here is an interesting article that might help:

Soothing a crying baby can be daunting for new parents, but some are trying out a technique developed by pediatrician Harvey Karp. He says one of the biggest misunderstandings is that babies want peace and quiet.
He tries to recreate the comforting sensations of the womb with what he calls the 5 S's.
Swaddling, that's with the arms down at the side. The second "s" is the side or stomach position. The third is shushing, and the fourth is a slight jiggle motion. The last "s" is sucking, the icing on the cake!

there is no reason to feel guilt if you walk out of the room if you are feeling the way you were. Better to walk out and count to 10 like you did then stay in there with her with both of you getting more and more upset.

koshergourmetmart said...

Also here is an interesting post (
You can't really teach your baby how to self-soothe, but you can provide him with the opportunity to teach himself. Given the right circumstances and the right stage of development, usually between 3 and 6 months of age, it will happen on its own. It's like learning to crawl: If you always carry your baby, he'll never have a chance to discover crawling, since he'll never be on the floor long enough to figure it out. It's the same thing with self-soothing: If you always nurse or rock your baby to sleep, he'll never have a chance to learn how to soothe himself to sleep.

How can you help your baby do this? First, you need to set the stage, which includes two things: a regular bedtime and a consistent routine. A bedtime that occurs at the same time every night will set your baby's internal clock so that he's naturally sleepy at a predictable time. The bedtime routine should happen in the place you want your baby to sleep and include three or four soothing activities, such as taking a bath, reading a story and having a cuddle, that let him know it's time for "night-night." When the bedtime routine is finished, put your baby to bed drowsy but awake.

What happens if you've given your baby plenty of chances to self-soothe and he just can't seem to do it? Take a step back and try to figure out why. Perhaps he's simply too young and doesn't yet have the developmental ability to self-soothe, just as a 3-month-old can spend hours on the living room floor yet still won't be able to crawl .In this case, wait a few days, weeks or even months before trying again.

Or maybe your baby is too tired — and thus too overwrought — to settle down by himself. In this case, try moving his bedtime a bit earlier so he isn't a complete wreck by lights-out. Finally, think about whether you're really giving your baby an opportunity to find ways to soothe himself, or are rushing in to comfort him at his first peep and depriving him of the chance to figure it out on his own.

Most important, keep your goal in mind: Developing the ability to soothe himself to sleep will enable your baby to snooze for longer stretches and put himself back to sleep when he naturally wakes up during the night, allowing him to get the rest he needs to grow and thrive. What's more, self-soothing is an important life skill that will serve your baby well not just at bedtime but also in other situations, such as when he's separated from you at daycare or even when you momentarily walk out of the room, when he gets frustrated trying to master all those other important skills such as — you guessed it — crawling, or when he's just feeling fussy.

Commenter Abbi said...

Caring for a newborn is truly a soul-shaking experience. Have you figured out nursing lying down yet? That could really be a lifesaver for you, especially in situations like that, where you just need her to go to sleep and you need to lie down as well. If you haven't figured it out yet, any good LC can show you.

If you're hesitant to do this because you want her to learn good sleeping habits in her own crib, bed nursing and crib sleeping are not mutually exclusive. I nursed my little one in bed a lot but he sleeps great in his crib at 18 months.

I have totally been in your shoes. I remember when my first was that age and she just wouldn't go to sleep, and my husband was working late, my mom had gone home already, and i called him crying, not knowing what to do.

Do you have a swing? If not, please try to get one- a swing can definitely stand in for those extra pair of hands at this age. And again, don't worry about how she'll only agree to sleep in a swing, etc. Kids are very adaptable.

Amy Charles said...

Sweetie, totally get a swing. They help. And so does sleep. It's hard to organize things when you're already running on fumes, but you need to get some regular childcare so that you can take naps and pretend to be a grownup occasionally. do you have anyone you can arrange this with?