I am sitting in a recliner, drinking a mimosa on Christmas night while I hear my baby crying upstairs. I won’t go to him, my husband won’t go to him either. We anxiously sit and listen; the TV is only a minor distraction in the background as well as the soft click clack of the keys I type on.
The gifts are everywhere, unwrapped and strew about in a happy clutter. Laundry sits in its typical seat, in the recliner across from me. I cannot bring myself to stand up and clean a single item. The breaking of my heart is too much to focus on.
My baby has been awake for days. We’ve spent weeks in this unbreakable pattern. He’s not getting the proper rest his body needs for his growth and healthy development. I wake with him hour after hour and we coddle him while he cries through the night, but to no avail, no sleep is found and no peaceful negotiation is met.
My husband and I take turns rocking, nursing, swaddling, diapering, and cuddling the newly six month old that we love, very dearly. All the while arguing with one another into the wee hours of the morning, blaming each other for the baby’s restlessness. The sun rises as we are closing our eyes. Our three year old son sleeps through the fighting and the baby screaming, thankfully, but there is little else to be thankful for.
My husband and I confess to our darkest thoughts in the hours of the night when we are surrounded by screaming and our eyes and bodies ache deeply for rest. We admit to fighting urges to shake the baby, we agree there is danger in dropping the baby in a tired and listless state. We realize we are becoming dangerous to our child. We walk the daylight hours without joy, we live only to struggle through everyday situations and the night only brings us frustration. The good news is we are able to confront each other honestly. We are able to inspire change in the pattern and break a potentially dangerous cycle.
The baby will cry. The method is harsh, and I worry that he will not thrive if we leave him crying, unattended for even a short time. I sit here thinking the worst, fighting back tears and refusing to go to him.
We can’t go on being afraid of the night. We can’t expect to have a healthy relationship when we spend hours arguing. We can’t perform for the other people in our lives who need us when we ourselves can’t recharge and take care of us.
We need a method, we need a cure and we will try anything, even if it doesn’t feel good.