I threw his pacifier across the room as hard as I could. It hit the wall and cracked into pieces. The tiny, adorable penguin binky that was frequently seen in my tiny, adorable baby’s mouth was shattered, and so was I.
I had received kind advice from friends and family. They told me that there would be a learning curve, but they assured me that I would get to know my baby and things would get easier. They told me that I would learn how to soothe him and comfort him. They told me that once you figure out your baby, they hardly ever cry. This was comforting to me in the beginning, but as the months dragged on and my baby wouldn’t stop crying, I felt like I was failing as a mother.
I couldn’t soothe my baby. I couldn’t comfort him. I couldn’t stop him from screaming. I couldn’t get him to sleep peacefully. It wasn’t getting easier, and I was blaming myself.
Blaming myself meant that I took on more of the burden. I felt that I was never doing enough even though I was caring for him day and night. I preferred to have him scream in my arms instead of in my husband’s until I reached my breaking point.
The binky hit the wall.
I have never had anger issues so this was such an obvious sign that something needed to change. I took my adorable little baby boy to the doctor soon after the incident. He diagnosed my son with colic, said that there was nothing anyone could do, told me that it wasn’t my fault and then sent us home to deal with the daily screaming and crying.
I would like to say that this diagnosis helped me as a new mother, and to some extent, I guess it did. But nothing reassured me more than the passage of time and the birth of my second son.
My firstborn gave us a run for our money. His first year was rough. He trained us as parents more than we trained him as a child. But on the other side of the struggle, we are all flourishing. He is an incredible young boy now. He is sensitive, compassionate, independent, energetic, determined, funny and intelligent. All of his amazing qualities that make him such an incredible boy made him a very difficult baby, but once he started walking and communicating more, he became a totally different child. He always knew exactly what he wanted and how he could finally get it.
The birth of my second son was another huge turning point for me. I was worried that we would have another similar situation. While I knew we would survive and make it to the other side, I was secretly terrified to have to go through it again. Luckily, our second son came out smiling and hasn’t stopped since. Sure, he is a handful in other ways: He has always been an attention seeker and is a ball of energy, but he brings his bright, bouncy personality into the mix to counteract his brother’s seriousness.
So since no one told me, I am telling you: The amount that your baby cries is not an indication of the kind of mother that you are.
Almost five year later, I can say definitively that the only measure of a mother is how she handles the situation she is put in. A crying baby does not equal a bad mother. Instead, that mother is incredibly strong, patient and loving. There is nothing worse than pacing the halls with a screaming baby at 3 a.m., but we do it, because we are amazing moms.