I stood staring in the bathroom mirror at the bags under my eyes and my tired skin with my hair a mess and spit-up on my pajamas that I hadn’t gotten out of all day.
“I’m beginning to think something is wrong with him,” I said to my husband.
“Wrong like what? Like he’s actually mentally challenged?” He replied somewhat serious and somewhat looking at me like I was insane.
“No, not that. Just like maybe I’m missing something. Maybe he doesn’t feel well. Maybe it’s more than just teething.”
It has been a long few weeks. Sometime around Christmas, Baby J started this thing where he does not want to play on his own more than 2 minutes at a time and he screams his head off until you pick him up. Then he screams/cries more until you walk around with him. And screams more if you don’t take him to the room he wants. My child is demanding. De-mand-ing.
Today, I would type 5 words to an email before getting up and moving Baby J to the next toy. It felt like I was navigating a baby mine field between walker, jumper, activity mat, Boppy, sit-to-stand walker, rocker chair, and my lap. Every 2 minutes, I would move him to a new spot in hopes that he’d be entertained. Then he’d start crying. And screaming. Real tears, people. Real freaking tears.
Some of his screaming is his expression of his frustration when things don’t do what he expects them to. Or when he wants to move around and can’t because he’s not quite 5 months (4 more days) and isn’t crawling. Like right now, he is on the activity mat with a chime toy in one hand and an overwhelming rattle/mirror/spinny toy in the other hand. And he’s mad because he wants them to do something different. Or he wants to do something different. I don’t even know anymore.
Do all babies cry this much? Do all babies scream at you when you won’t let them eat your phone? Repeatedly. Do they scream in a restaurant because they don’t want the avocado you put on a SPECIAL plate for them, but instead want to reach for your shrimp tacos? I don’t know. Because this is the only baby I have.
But I see my friends whose babies sit their quietly cooing in the corner and you forget they even have a baby in a restaurant. I see my friends’ kids who cry like a whisper while mine yells so loud the neighbors down the street wonder if we’re torturing him. I see my friend’s daughter who wiggles around the living room content to play with her rattle. And I envy them.
I envy the ease at which parenting their baby seems to take. I envy the car rides they take- with a cooing baby in the backseat rather than a hysterically screaming one. I envy the moments of peace that they have. Of bathroom trips that don’t involve both of us yelling- him mad that he’s alone and me assuring him that I WILL BE BACK.
I’m so good at giving pep talks to everyone but myself. As I tell my husband on Sunday that I need more help because I cannot keep doing this. Like seriously, cannot. Will die of an exploding brain if I have to. Or maybe the anxiety will finally kill me- choking the ever loving life out of me. I tell him that I need his help because I didn’t shower on Saturday and then he took a phone call while I showered on Sunday and Baby J woke screaming so I only got to soap up half myself and pick up a screaming kid while wrapped in a towel. Because heaven forbid that he sleep for more than a half hour on his own without my boob in his mouth.
I stood there in the kitchen telling my husband that God gave us a high maintenance/high needs/whatever the heck you want to call a baby who screams at everything kid. And if He gave us one, then we must be equipped to handle it.
Or we did some terrible thing in a past life.
Poor kid is getting 2 teeth at the same time. Poor kid is also super smart and hitting 6 and 7 month milestones when he’s not even 5 months old.
But really, do all babies cry this much? Is my baby broken?
And then the Facebook trolls start to chime in that I should just let him cry it out. Because he won’t learn any other way.
They don’t live with the child who cries so hard that he starts to choke or screams so loud that he hurts his voice. Or gets so mad that he cries real, solid tears and starts sweating profusely. They also don’t live with the post-partum demons that make you feel like your head is exploding and your heart is going to burst out of your chest (and not in the oh-so-much-love kind of way). They don’t live with the tears that don’t stop even when your baby is finally peacefully playing. They don’t deal with the chaos of just waiting for him to start crying again. Because you know he will.
I’m convinced my baby is broken.