5 Important things to remember when babies cry
Combatting the "sound of baby crying makes me angry/anxious" moment.
Have you ever had the thought, but been scared to admit that "the sound of my baby crying makes me angry" or "my child gives me anxiety"?
You're not alone. Feelings of anger, frustration and anxiety are more common than you think. In fact, anxiety and baby crying can go together more often than you think.
There are 5 important things to remember when you have that "babies crying = anxiety, fear or anger" moment.
But first, an important personal story that might help you realise you're not alone in feeling this way.
Babies crying take me back there
I'd like to share a personal example of a moment that drew me back into the memories of those "my child gives me anxiety" moments I experienced very recently.
Yesterday I was in the doctor's surgery with my son Ryan because he has tonsilitis....again.
Anyway, while we were waiting for his name to be called, behind me was the sound of a very new baby's cry. You know, that newborn baby cry that is so distinct to a Mum whose children are no longer babies anymore.
For some, when hearing the sound of a crying baby, it's common for people to think 'aww how cute'. For me, when I heard the sound of this crying baby, my body instantly started to feel a past familiar feeling of anxiety and dread when hearing that sound.
That 'the sound of baby crying makes me angry and anxious' moment came back in true force.
When a baby cries, whether its your own crying baby or another mother's crying baby that you hear, you need to take a moment to take a deep breath, self soothe yourself, stay calm and remember hearing babies cry can feel incredibly stressful and make you feel anxious... but that this is something many parents experience when then hear a crying baby. And the thoughts and feelings that come with the sound of the crying baby aren't always true and they aren't always correct.
For me, the feeling stayed, years later
It was funny to feel my body react that way, when it was over 4 years ago that I experienced a newborn baby's crying when it was my own child.
I am no longer in the mental place that I was back then, but it just goes to show where I was at at the time my boys were babies. The sound of my baby crying made me so anxious.
You see, that sound of my baby's crying, to me meant that it was action time. It was time to get the baby to stop crying and do whatever I could to give him what he needed.
After all, I should know what my baby wants, right? I should know how to give that to him? I should know exactly why it is that is making my baby cry and exactly how to make my baby stop crying, right? Otherwise, what does that say about me? What does that say about my abilities as this child's mother if I can't identify why my baby cries and stop my baby from crying, when I do have a crying baby?
In short, I had fallen into the trap of blaming my baby’s crying on myself. And doubting my parenting ability when it didn’t stop quickly. If only I knew then how wrong these assumptions were. It would have taken so much unnecessary criticism, self-doubt, anxiety and stress off my plate.
Self-doubting thoughts when this happens are absolutely not true.
I'm sure just about every single parent has experienced these feelings at some point in time. Asked themselves those same, grilling questions. And I'd bet more than a dollar that many, many of us can relate to the statement "my child gives me anxiety" - when we're honest, that is. This can be a completely normal feeling. Especially those times where it seems like there is excessive crying.
You can imagine how much stress this kind of thinking was causing me back then. These feelings and this stress was why I started to delve into feelings of worth-lessness and feeling like a failure every time I couldn't get my child to do what I thought they should be doing. And every time I had a crying baby I could not get to stop.
Hearing your baby crying and anxiety or anger often go hand in hand for new parents
That moment sitting in the clinic yesterday brought back so many memories triggered by this baby crying. It made me reflect on the strong relationship between anxiety and baby crying. For some, they'll also feel frustrated, or feel angry, either at the situation (unable to figure out why you have a crying baby) or even, deep-down, at themselves, for feelings of failure.
Remembering the feeling of being out of control and the anxiety it caused so vividly has now prompted me to write this post to help other Mums (and Dads) who may be feeling the same way.
That and knowing now how inaccurate my thinking was at that time. I was too close to it all at the time when I had a newborn baby. But when you are able to take a step back, you realise that these thoughts are so incorrect.
So many of us feel this way at some point.
But the important thing to remember is that when we think these super-harsh thoughts about ourselves and our abilities as parents, we're wrong.
Let me repeat that;
When we think these super-harsh thoughts about ourselves and our abilities as parents, we are wrong.
The fact that you're even worrying about your baby's cries so much probably means that you're a wonderful parent: because you care. You want them to be happy. You want to know they're okay. But this worry about being a 'bad parent' is not going to do you, or baby any good.
So here are 5 important things to remember to upgrade your thinking if you are anxious over your baby's crying:
Five important things to remember when you are struggling with a crying baby
#1: Babies Cry!
Something that's easy to forget as a parent when we're stressing out about our baby crying is the simple fact that babies do cry. This is the reality of having a child.
When a baby is very young, crying is their only way of communicating their needs to you and it is not a reflection of you doing anything wrong. They don't know how to express themselves in another way just yet. So, to express themselves; they've started crying.
When babies are feeling 'feelings', or needs, they'll probably cry. Sometimes babies will cry just because they're pooping. Not to mention teething and other normal but painful parts of being a tiny human growing into a slightly-less-tiny human. Or having a colicky baby, or a baby with a bit of a stuffy nose.
#2: You are learning a new skill
Part of that skill is getting to know your child and what their wants and needs are. You are talking about another human being and you can't expect to know what's happening for them all the time. And yes, sometimes you have no idea what's going on.
Sometimes it takes a bit of guesswork. Sometimes it takes just going through the list, trying one thing at a time. Do they need a diaper change? Are they teething? Do they have a blocked or runny nose?
#3: If you don't know something, then you don't know something.
The only way you will know is to learn. This applies to getting your newborn baby to sleep, understanding their behaviour over time (including why they are crying), getting them to eat, breastfeeding, the organisation involved with running a household, meeting your personal needs and raising children etc.
Over time, with practice, experience and constantly receiving new information, you will learn how to do things and gradually get better at this motherhood role.
#4: You don't have a baby and then instantly know how to be a Mum.
There is so much bullshit (excuse my language - passion coming out here) emphasis on this instinctual gift that Mums are supposed to have when they have a child.
While, yes there are times where instinct takes over (and I believe it’s when we are feeling mostly relaxed and allow it to come through), there are many times where we simply don't know what we are doing and if we believe that we should know (through this so called instinct), then this is only going to leave us feeling like a bad mother if you don't get it right. If you are thinking that you should instinctively know what to do, please refer back to points 1, 2 & 3!
Sometimes not knowing why your baby is crying, or not being able to make it stop simply means you have more to learn.
I stress again, this is not a bad thing: we have to start somewhere. We're not born with all the knowledge. We're not suddenly experienced and all-knowing just because we have become parents. We learn.
#5: Your baby crying is not them being 'bad'. It's not you being 'bad' either.
Your child is not being 'good' if they are not crying, or sleeping through the night. You are not a 'good' mother because you have a quiet child or a child that rarely cries or sleeps through the night (which, incidentally, depends on whose version of 'sleeping through the night' you are comparing to).
Your child is perfect just the way that they are and are crying/not sleeping because they are trying to communicate and/or learning how to be in the world.
This takes an undetermined amount of time and is determined by the child's natural development.
You are a worthy mother, because you exist as this child's mother and are always doing the best you can do with the information that you have.
Remember these tips and set your mindset
I hope you find this helpful, because I really wish I had this kind of mindset when my boys were babies.
I so would have enjoyed them more if I did.
There is a part of me that would like another child, just to prove to myself that I could handle it this time round and so that I would enjoy this incredible experience more than I did. However this is not going to happen, so I am just grateful that I know it now, so that my boys can grow up happy and loved with the ability to learn about the reality of life.
We have got you, Mumma
Do you want to know (and be reminded of) more ways to think about parenting? Would you like to always feel like a 'good' Mum and develop the skills to be able to teach your kids how to have self worth and handle all life's ups and downs?
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