I need a baby instruction manual

I don’t even know what word I would use to describe this weekend.  Hard. Terrible. Frustrating. Painful.  There was fussing and crying and tears.  There was yelling and a head of lettuce thrown across the kitchen*.  There was bitterness and heartbreak at not understanding what she needed and pleading with her to just TELL ME what she wanted.  There was a massive glass of  wine consumed late Saturday afternoon. 

For the first time since C was about three weeks old, there was literally nothing I could do to comfort my daughter.  She didn’t want to play, didn’t want to sleep.  She was fed, dry and comfortable temperature-wise. And after a few hours the sound of her crying was literally like a knife to the heart.  I just wanted it to stop.  I tried laying her down and letting her cry while I cried on the floor beside her pack ‘n play, but frankly I suck at that.  So I walked around with her and let her cry in my arms and did my best to keep it together.  (Obviously not completely successfully – hence the head of lettuce that I threw into the kitchen sink when she screamed as I tried to make a sandwich.)  When she calmed down a little I put her in the exercauser while I took a bath.  That lasted exactly two minutes. 

When Craig came home he found us on our bed – me with my hair still in a towel and inches from losing my mind and C eating with tear-filled eyes.  He took her and gave me time to pull my shit together.  As I calmed myself down, I devised a plan.  The baby needs a schedule.  Kids thrive on knowing what comes next.  It’s what all the books say and want every friend of mine who has babies older than C swear by.  And, it’s what my gut has been whispering to me for two months.  So, OK.  I decided I would take a few days off at the end of the week, and come hell or high water,  I will put this baby on a schedule.  She will get up at a consistent time and nap at consistent time.  I expect more tears (from both of us) and more wine (for me).  But we will do this. 

Only now, 28 hours later, writing this, I’m wavering.  Because now, it’s hit me that she’s five month old and maybe, just maybe, she’s fussy because she’s teething.  I’m not sure if it was process of elimination that gave it away or Craig pointing out that she was chowing down on a teething ring like it was baby crack.  Why oh, why didn’t I think of this earlier?  And why didn’t I trust my gut two months ago when I thought she needed a schedule?  If I had A) this would be behind us or B) I could narrow down the cause.   So, now?  I don’t know.  I still think she needs a schedule and I still think I’m going to try to put her on one, but hopefully with a little more patience and understanding that what I had on Saturday. 

I hate, hate, hate that I was so flustered with my baby.  I’m annoyed at myself for being short with my husband and that when she went to bed, I feel asleep (probably from the massive glass of wine) instead of taking time to actually talk to him.  I feel guilty that I didn’t lift a finger to do any kind of cleaning and very little cooking all weekend long.  I’m anxious that I’m starting the work week with a list that didn’t get any shorter over the weekend. 

I know that this was not the norm.  (Actually the cooking and cleaning thing is, but I want to work on that.)  I’m usually a really good mom to my daughter.  I know that it will get better and it won’t always be like this.  I just really think that babies should come with instruction manuals that tell you if they are tired, teething or just hate you. 

*No lettuce or child was harmed this weekend, I swear.


5 Responses

  1. I hope putting baby on a schedule is going well. My little one went to daycare at 5 months and although they weren’t strict about it or insisted that she follow a schedule, she did follow one for the most part. I think it’s GREAT to have a routine and it will help you keep your sanity and increase her nap time … just remember to be flexible too! I know parents who never attend a social function that interrupts naptime etc. We don’t plan our lives around our daughter’s schedule which makes her flexible too!
    Where do you stand on the “crying it out”?? When she wakes up from her 30 min nap, did you ever leave her in bed for 10 – 15 minutes and see what would happen?? Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT let my daughter scream for hours on end (10 maybe 15 min is the most I can stand and not if it’s screaming, only if it’s a healthy cry), but putting her to bed when she didn’t think she needed to be there and letting her (horrible as it sounds) cry herself to sleep or leaving her there when she wasn’t ready to wake up evolved into her napping 2 + hours a day and sleeping 12 hours at night. Maybe it’s nothing we did and we’re just lucky!!

    • I think I stand firmly in the middle of letting CIO. This morning I put her down awake and letting her fuss for a few minutes (she hasn’t been screaming – not sure I could be that tough) then went back in to give her the paci back, rub her back a little, just generally calm her down. With nap #1 this morning, I only had to go in once and nap #2, not at all. She slept for 30 minutes woke up and talked to herself for 10 minutes, fussed for about 5, talked some more and then went back to sleep. So far she’s been asleep the second time for 55 minutes. So… it’s going. I’m not ready to call it a success yet, but it’s worked so far and she didn’t seem to hate me when I got her up from her morning nap. That’s something, right?!?! 😉

      • Oh my gosh, that’s wonderful!! That’s a HUGE success. I swear that’s exactly what I did and it will get better and better from here! You have to be consistent and keep doing it. And make nap time generally the same time each day if you can. Sorry to hear about the fever … my daughter got her first 2 teeth at 5 months (I thought it was early) so maybe that’s what it is?? Hope she’s feeling better today. Hang in there, sounds like you are exactly on track!

  2. Don’t be hard on yourself. I worked for my son’s first two years and it.was.hard. There are ups and downs. It is frustrating when as a 1st time parent you don’t know what they want. It could be teething, it could be she was having a day and the teething made it worse. She could be growing…it is hard to know.
    You will get through this and it does get easier when they can communicate a little more.

  3. Don’t beat yourself up! Actually, it could be teething or a growth spurt (did she want to eat/nurse a lot?) Putting a 5 month old on a schedule might be a bit too difficult, so do not put undue stress on yourself. And everything you’ve described leads me to one conclusion: you are a wonderful, and very normal, mom. We all let cleaning go to the crapper when we’ve got a new baby. Oh, and cooking? Yeah, my husband pretty much took over that job until Henry was 7 months old and not nursing like a starved calf. You are doing an incredible job. Don’t worry about the stuff that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things. And the wine, keep it close by 🙂

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