Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mom Moments

You know you have watched too much Cars when you greet your baby with:

"Hi. My name's Mama. Like Tuh-mama, but without the Tuh."


Anna slept in her crib last night until four this morning. I woke up several times to check on her breathing. It was amazing. Anyway. When she fell asleep in my arms later this morning after I fed her, I put her back in the crib, but left the door to our bedroom open so I could hear her.

Ben was running around the house like a rabid baboon, throwing his big red ball here and there, climbing up the stairs to throw it over the half-wall at the top. "Ball. Ball. Ball!" (Can you guess where this is going?)

All of a sudden, I hear Anna cry. I wasn't surprised, because sometimes when she wakes up, she's startled to realize she's not being held, and she gets a bit upset about that. I went into the bedroom to check on her, and when I saw Ben peeking over the edge (it's a packnplay with the bassinet insert), I knew he probably had something to do with her crying.

I found his big red ball right next to Anna's face. He had thrown it in the crib so she could take a turn with the ball. He probably had hit her in the head with it, waking her up. *Sigh and giggle*


And finally, there's my helpful hints for dealing with a screaming Anna.

At my sister-in-law's baby shower, I received many comments about what a good girl Anna was, how surprising it was that she was content to just sit on my lap and watch the festivities. I smiled and said thank you, but secretly, I wanted to explain to them that she was actually a terror sometimes. I didn't bother because they probably wouldn't believe me. Who could believe that such an angelic beauty could ever give her parents a minute of despair?

Last night, I took my husband up on his standing invitation to watch the children in the evenings so I could go to the gym on my own for a workout. I ate dinner before he got home from work, and after feeding Anna one last time, I escaped the friendly confines of SAHM prison. When I got back 85 minutes later, Ben was eating dinner, and Anna was lying peacefully asleep in her dad's arms. But Chris was exhausted and frazzled.

Anna has had screaming fits in the evenings almost every night since her birth. Sometimes they only last fifteen minutes, other times, they extend for nearly an hour. It's very hard to deal with. It happens when she depletes my milk supply and is still hungry. She gets so upset, she won't take a bottle or the nuk. She just sits there, freaking out.

I asked Chris what he did to help her get through it, and he said he just held her tightly, patting her butt, offering the bottle and nuk every so often. Finally she passed out, soaked in sweat and exhausted.

He has seen me deal with her screaming fits in the past, and I've come up with a number of things that sometimes work on its own or in combination, but he forgets easily or doesn't bother trying and just sticks to the swaddle/pat routine. "It works eventually," he says with a sheepish look.

So I sent him an email containing strategies he can reference for Screaming Anna.

  • Strip off all her clothes and start rubbing her limbs and belly. Gentle caresses are fine. Nothing very vigorous. Use lotion if that will make you feel more comfortable. Let her hang out for a while in just her diaper and onesie after you are done. She's just like her mommy. She doesn't like to be too warm, and she heats up when she gets upset.
  • Stand up and walk around with her upright in your arms, bouncing as you step.
  • Walk around with her, talking to her, showing her different areas of the house and different items in it. "This is the chair in the dining room." "This is the crying baby in the mirror. Her name is Anna, and we love her anyway." Etc. Speak in soothing tones, sing-songy.
  • Strip her down again, only this time, have a cool wet washcloth nearby. Lightly brush it over her limbs. This is especially helpful after she's been screaming for a while and is all sweaty.
  • Just let her suck on your finger for a while, the pad of your finger on the roof of her mouth. This has worked for me a number of times when she has refused the nuk and the bottle and the breast. There's something perfect about the shape.
  • Keep changing her position, trying to interact with her, talking to her, making faces and expressions. Turn her around and show her the TV. Try to get Ben to kiss her. Go in the bedroom and turn on The Wiggles with Ben. Hold her while you sing, dancing around. The goofier the better.
  • If she won't calm down and you are losing your patience, strap her into the bouncy chair or swing with the burp rag around her neck and the nuk in place. Then go downstairs in the basement and move laundry or clean the litter box. Make sure the dryer is on. You won't really be able to hear her. Chances are, by the time you are done with whatever you were doing, she might have stopped crying on her own. She might have passed out, but she might have just given up the beast or finally gotten the fart out. Either way, you will have had time to refocus and gather your marbles.

My ideas worked, not because he followed them to the letter, but because he started watching me last night, and it just "clicked" in his head. After I went to bed, Anna started screaming again, but this morning, Chris was happy to report it only lasted five minutes. He had figured out that she did wanted to be cuddled against him, but she still wanted her nuk.

He's learning how to parent by intuition, which is an art form. I'm so proud. I think once he starts doing that more, he'll enjoy his Anna time.