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Don’t Want to React Badly to Crying










QUESTION:

Everything about this pregnancy and baby has been crazy. She was not planned, but very welcomed. My wife is now 18 and I'm 19. My wife has a clotting disorder, and she had to take blood thinners all the time during the pregnancy. The pregnancy was very stressful on everyone. The baby was born from an emergency C-section a little early. She had to go to the NICU for a week for tachycardia that is now gone. Then a month ago, my wife and I both had organs removed on the same night for emergency reasons. My wife was in the ICU for 2 weeks while I took care of the baby all by myself at home, and her grandma watched her while I worked.

It's been 14 weeks now that I have to do most of the work with our daughter, while working as a CNA for disabled children (I love kids and babies). The baby is extremely easy! But when she does cry, I get REALLY frustrated. It's the worst noise in the world to me. Her mother can dance and run around other places, but if I ask for help with the baby in the morning, she is always "too nauseous" to help (every.single.time...). Tonight, it got so bad to the point where I was getting the baby ready for bed, and she would not stop crying. I fed, burped, changed, and did anything else I could to make her comfortable. It got to the point where I put a cold wipe on her, and said, "I hope it's cold". I took it off and then sucked out her nose, but her mom got so furious.

Obviously nothing I do now will help what I just did to the baby. I know the baby can't help crying. She’s little and helpless and probably just wants me to talk to her or something. It's just getting to the point where I'm getting really, really angry. I try walking away for a minute and deep breathing, but it makes me more frustrated when I come back and she's STILL crying. She doesn't have an ear infection or anything, so I know that's not it. Sometimes I literally don't sleep because of work, school, and the baby. It's not like I can stop one of those things.

What should I do? I don't want to do something stupid in the heat of the moment.




ANSWER:

I am guessing your unusual (for you, a CNA for disabled children) reaction to your daughter's crying is due to the fact that you have been at a 15 on a 1-10 stress scale for a year. We've had 400,000 guys come through Boot Camp and you are currently the front runner for most stressful start for a new family. You both had emergency organ removal the same night. And you and your wife are 19 and 18! What doesn't kill you makes you stronger but it sure wreaks havoc with your nervous system.

I've had several guys write about a similar crying challenge and they report back what worked. Next time, after she is fed, etc., when her face even starts to look like she might cry, put her in the stroller, put headphones on and crank up the tunes, and take her for a walk. Then try your deep breathing. Keep the headphones handy at home; you don't need to listen to her crying to take care of her. Perhaps first, though try this: next time she cries and you are holding her and get frustrated, put her down in bed crying, close the door, ask mom to step in, don't wait for an answer, and walk away out of the house and around the neighborhood with headphones on. She will be fine, and this is how you learn to not do something stupid in the heat of the moment. You need to do it at least once so you can react constructively if you do reach the point where something bad might happen. This is an essential dad skill we teach at every Boot Camp.

Your very young wife and new mom will be angry you left the baby crying. You are used to her being angry so just do what you need to do. Then remember, "if I am stressed, as a new mom she must be even more so". Try to get past your anger with her and be constructive about the huge challenge the stress you both have and are enduring presents to your new family. It is pushing you apart when you need to be coming together. Talk to her and emphasize, "what we have been thru, especially you, has left us stressed out; we need to stick together." New moms react very poorly to stress and she probably won't react constructively. Keep at it. Be as patient as possible. Perhaps talk to her mother about the stress; if you can get a baby sitter and take your wife out and do something you liked to do before your “surprise.” Try not to talk about the baby.

Think constructively about your own stress levels; with school too you don't have time to take care of yourself; but maybe you can come up with something. I run to burn stress off; maybe a jogging stroller might work; maybe for your wife. Best way for you to reduce your stress is to have her reduce hers which she re-directs at you.

My take on your overall situation is this: You are a hero to me; a great example of a man who stepped up big time to the challenge of becoming a father. You should be forever proud of how you did the job for your new family no matter how tough it got. The good news is your baby will cry less and less after 3-4 months. Stress on both mom and dad will decline gradually, and you two can start remembering what you had together and get some of it back. You both will get a lot from your daughter, and you will have a beautiful family. The key challenge is learning to work together with mom on building a family.

Keep doing the job and you will be way better than OK.

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