The crying started again. It’s been over a year since the crying stopped, but now it’s back.
My daughter has always been a fairly easy-going kid, but early on she could wail with the best of them. And that’s just par for the course with infants, as new parents quickly learn. But once my little bundle passed the six month mark, she really settled in and the long-term screaming stopped. Now that we have entered the twos, though, my sweet girl has started again.
For the last several nights, my usually deep-sleeping kid has woken up in the wee hours just screaming her blond head off. Once she starts, I grab the baby monitor and study her shadowy black and white image in detail. Is she standing? Are there stops and starts in her cries? Does she lean her head against the crib rail? All of these are her usual indications that she’ll go back to sleep on her own. But I’ve had no such luck lately.
So, my next step is to, reluctantly, pull myself out of bed and go in to comfort her. In the past, this is a last-ditch effort that always works. If I go in there and rub her back, or better yet, rock her, I usually have no problems getting her back to sleep. But not these nights.
Even when I go in, even when I pick her up (and even when I don’t), she screams. And howls. And kicks her suddenly long and strong legs. There I am, half asleep, getting beaten to a pulp by a mighty-willed midget.
I have taken to doing a series of shotgun visits to my daughter’s room during these episodes, trying to soothe her and then leaving to see if she can calm herself down. To no avail lately. Each night she’s gotten up screaming, and it’s ended up being a two-hour ordeal.
Did you know that crying is an endurance event? I had no idea (or I completely forgot) until this new phase began. Until recently, my mind has been wiped clean of how a child’s constant crying can just fry your brain, and turn your reasoning skills into scrambled eggs. I’ve lost my stamina in the last year; I’ve grown soft. Last night, on my third attempt to calm the little banshee down, I found myself uttering these words: “Here’s your Princess Baby. Now, I don’t want to hear from you again!” As if such angry words would have any effect on a barely verbal being, let alone one caught in the middle of a weeping hurricane.
What was I thinking?
Well, I guess I wasn’t thinking at all. I was just desperately wanting some sleep. I’ve gotten so spoiled by a child who sleeps regularly and well that I lost my mind at the first inkling of sleep issues. I’m pretty sure that my daughter is having some pain from teething, or perhaps she is just going through some developmental stage that has changed her sleep-awake pattern. Either way, this really isn’t the end of the world, nor is it an intentional plot to ruin my peaceful slumber.
But that is hard to remember at 4 in the morning.
Last night, I ended up feeling guilty and going back into my daughter’s room one more time. I picked her up, hummed some lullabies and rocked her to sleep. It really took most of my willpower to put away my own inner cry-baby and be helpful to my daughter. I wound up staying in the rocking chair until morning so she could get a little more rest. She never did get rid of those post-crying hiccups, though, and each one somehow made me realize how immature I was being.
I don’t really know how to control all the emotions I feel when facing a tidal wave of weeping. Sometimes it feels so trying to have to be the adult all the time. I am beyond tired these days, and I actually fear going to bed because of what might wake me up in the twilight hours. I have to admit that it was sweet, though, to get to rock my baby girl again. She’s getting to be such a big girl that I haven’t gotten to do that much in the past year, either.
Baker is an Oak Cliff mom with a doctorate in American Literature, but barely a pre-school education in Mommyhood.