“The wake up seems to be developmental, you’ve tried everything to try and eliminate it and it looks like we are just going to have to wait until he outgrows it.”
This one sentence touched off a downward spiral inside of me a couple of days ago. It was written in an email from the child sleep expert we hired back in November to help us with our infant son. Every night, since he was four weeks old, he has cried uncontrollably before going to sleep. This used to occur in the middle of the night. The sleep expert did help us to correct that, thank God. Now, the crying happens at a more reasonable bedtime hour, or when he wakes up 45 minutes after he’s gone to bed. Thus far, nothing this expert has suggested has helped us to stop the crying and thus, she wrote the sentence I copied above. Every night since then, has felt more and more hopeless.
Since this whole thing started months ago we have tried everything; every swaddle, clothing fabric, room temperature and sound. We have attempted pacifiers, bouncers, mobiles, routines and shushing techniques. We have consulted our pediatrician, Google and yes, spent hard-earned money on an infant sleep expert. As for my own coping mechanisms, I have cried, screamed, hit things, tried accepting it and have even done yoga in the middle of the night to calm myself down. I am not happy to report that I’m still doing all those things.
As I type these words he is screaming his poor, little, adorable head off. As I type this, it’s 10:30pm and he’s been like this since 8:30pm. We have no idea what is wrong and we have no idea how to fix it. The last two hours have been a series of futile attempts at doing so. Now, we have just left the room for the last time to let him cry because that is all there is left to do.
I have only been a parent for 2 years and 8 months. In that relatively short time one of the most painful things I have had to do is stand by and let my child cry; to feel utterly helpless in the face of their pain.
I can’t fix this and perhaps I’m not supposed to. Perhaps this experience is a precursor to the painful parenting moments ahead when I will have to stand by and let my child cry. Right now, I don’t know why he’s crying, but in ten years it might be because a kid made fun of him at school or he wasn’t picked for the kickball team. In twenty years it might be because someone he loved hurt him or he lost a friend. In 30 years it might be because he’s scared of life, or maybe he’s sitting in a dark room holding his own crying child, and crying.
Whatever it is, each time my heart will break along with his and I’m fairly certain it will not get any easier. Perhaps this time is helping me build the strength I’ll need to to stand by the next time he needs to cry and I can’t fix it.