Monday, January 27, 2014

Parenthood: Week 35 - Learning To Ignore Crying

I still remember the first time I heard Ollie cry. The sound of his voice crying out to the world right after he was born filled me with relief, joy and a euphoria that I had never felt before. Even though there was a sense of anguish in his voice, the overwhelming feeling of joy overcame any other feelings knowing that he was okay after being born.

In those first couple weeks after he was born, my reaction to his crying was less about joy and more like sheer panic. I would rush over whenever I would hear any sign of crying to see what was wrong. Any thought that he had to suffer for a second longer than necessary haunted me and I did everything I could to attend to him every single time he cried.

Then there was the first time that I slept through his cries. Diana and I realized at a certain point that one of us needed to get sleep for our family to function. As Diana was nursing Ollie, it made sense for me not to get up every time he needed to eat in the nighttime. Even though I agreed with her, I still got up after we had this conversation but one night I slept through his cries.

I heard him crying, but I knew Diana would take care of him and the sense of urgency now dissipated.  This sound no longer roused me up out of my half-sleeping stage as it did before.

Over the past eight months of Ollie’s life, my reaction to him crying has become far less panicking and depends much more on the situation. Part of this has to do with the fact that I can now kind of identify his different cries.

When Ollie has a dirty diaper he has a whimpering cry. When he is tired, his cry is whinier and when he wants attention his cry is louder and more demanding. It’s not that I don’t attend to these cries as immediately as I can, but sometimes I just need to worry less about comforting him and more on fixing the problem.

Ollie doesn’t like having his diaper changed, nor does he like wet diapers. So let’s say he starts crying because of a wet diaper. As I change his diaper, he starts crying louder because I’m holding him down, which he really doesn’t like. All my focus at that moment is on getting the diaper changed as quickly as possible. I’ve found that I can’t really focus on comforting him at the same time. I just need to get the diaper changed.

I don’t feel bad about his crying in these moments because even though I’m doing something that makes him upset, things need to get done.  He hates putting on his winter jacket and cries whenever we put it on. Well, we live in Chicago, so he was to deal with it. So he cries and someone it doesn’t bother me because it’s for his own good.

Other times I need to ignore his cries for attention when I place him in his playpen and I need to use the bathroom. I know he’s fine and I only need him to wait for a couple minutes, so surprisingly, he cries at the moment don’t really have a strong emotional effect on me.

Part of the initial panic about crying is that you don’t want your child to be permanently scarred from crying too much. But the reality is that babies, even if they are attended to 24 hours in a day, cry.  So as heart breaking as it is something, a reasonable amount of crying really doesn’t hurt a baby.

I’m not advocating ignoring your baby while he or she cries. I just find it interesting how a sound that once instilled such panic in me, now hardly phases me. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Remember how I mentioned the different types of cries earlier in this post? Well, when Ollie cries a “I’m in pain and I’m scared,”-cry, it brings tears to my eyes. The volume of this cry is unbelievable and it’s not so much a series of cries but a full out scream. Hearing this thing is really rough. Thankfully I’ve only heard it a couple times but when I hear it, I panic.

We have a lot more crying ahead of us.  Diana and I will have to be thoughtful how we react depending on the cries as we deal with sleep training and toddler crying which requires varied reactions from parents depending on the situation.

Right on cue, there's Ollie crying.  It's a dirty diaper cry.  Time to head over and take care of this diaper change.  He'll probably cry a little bit while I do it, but it'll be okay.  As soon as its done, I know, I'll be able to get a little smile out of him.  

  

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