Exceptions to the AP rule: when mom can’t take it anymore

Bodhi was born after 70 (yup seventy) traumatic hours of induction, labour and delivery. Though we were both physically healthy, I began to have panic attacks brought on by severe sleep deprivation. After being taken by ambulance back to the hospital struggling to breathe, I was seen by a doctor who told me that “sleeplessness and parenting go hand in hand,” or in otherwords “get over it, lady”. Erm…yah…thanks, Dr. Jerko.

Here I was, a fervent advocate of often time-intensive attachment parenting (AP), barely able to care for herself, never mind her new baby. This experience helped me to understand deeply that sometimes the health of mom needs to take priority, if only for a few precious minutes.

There are times when all babies can’t stop crying. Here are some things to do when you are at the end of your rope and need a few inches to keep from calling the adoption agency. I invite you to add to the list in the comments section of this article.

  1. Find out what’s wrong. Many health care providers will tell you a baby will cry for no reason. Let’s assume that’s the exception to the rule. My son has had “unexplained” crying due to my not knowing that: my infant was overtired and needed more naps, I had too much foremilk and (believe it or not) my son didn’t want to pee in his diaper at two months of age. Read, google and listen to your instincts to figure out what might fix the cause of your little ones tears. 
  2. Get help. Dad, sis, bro, mom, in laws, cousins, friends, helpline, your doula, a postpardum doula, neighbour mom, one of those infant swings, local nurse, doctor, pharmacist, recovery isn’t a time to pridefully “go-it-alone”. My husband and I went to our local hospital after being sent home too soon from the one in the big city and begged them for a couple more days of recovery
  3. Be an activist. Go ahead and be a rabid mama if it helps you cope. I couldn’t relax leaving my baby with another person, even if it meant loss of sleep. Furthermore, exclusively breastfeeding my son (despite nearly anonymous opinion that I should start him on formula to get some rest) gave me confidence as a mom after a traumatic labour and delivery.
  4. Dig into your attachment parenting (AP) toolbox. AP tools such as sleeping near your baby and keeping him or her close during the day can make less work overall. Being able to lift your baby out of your co-sleeper, onto your breast and then back again to sleep without him or her (or you) completely waking up can grant you extra minutes or even hours of sleep every night! Furthermore, research has studied babies who are worn in a sling and found they cry less than other babies.
  5. Exercise. Yah yah I know – exercise is the default solution to whatever ails you. Well, why wouldn’t it be? Our ancestors walked all day long–it’s what we evolved to do. One of my spiritual mentors, Murray Kennedy, once said to me, “Theresa, go out for a jog. No one can run a mile and still feel sorry for themselves.”
  6. Don’t let dad be a second child. Firstly, dad needs to take good care of himself so he isn’t an irritable, sleep-deprived, anxiety generating burden. Secondly, it’s not 1950, boys. It is absolutely reasonable for dad to do one or all of the following: put the baby to sleep, wake up at night (even to just keep you company), clean the kitchen, make dinner, draw you a bath and (most of all) spend time to get to know his son or daughter. Yes, this is required on top of his 9-5 (or 9-9 or whatever) work schedule.
  7. Go easy on yourself. This means emotionally as well  as taking on too much. After all, there is no country in the world where labour standards allow the 24/7 schedule, emotional and physical demands of a stay-at-home-parent (not to mention the crap pay). It’s the toughest job I have ever had.
  8. Cry with him. S/he’s letting it all out, it’s OK for you to too. It’s also OK to get angry. Punch a pillow, say a series of dirty words at the top of your lungs…out of ear shot from your little one so you don’t scare him or her.
  9. Have an emergency back-up. Make a safety plan with a neighbour or a relative who lives close and has a flexible schedule so you can quickly hand off your baby when you become overwhelmed.
  10. Get away. Ok, so you can’t go far, but you can set your baby down in a safe place and go to another floor of your house or sit on the front porch for five minutes to stay sane.

Never shake a baby

Whatever your circumstance, or how long s/he’s been crying, there is no excuse for shaking or hitting a baby.

One in five babies who are shaken will die. Others will be blinded, paralyzed and brain damaged. Read more by clicking here or visit http://www.nevershakeababy.org/ for more information.

One Response to “Exceptions to the AP rule: when mom can’t take it anymore”
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  1. […] Whatever your circumstance, or how long s/he’s been crying, there is no excuse for shaking a baby. Read some constructive ways to cope by clicking here. […]

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