Put the baby down…and slowly back away.

From ZedoMax.com

Last night Kate had yoga as usual which is awesome because she gets to get away from Max for a while and I get some sweet father-son time.  However, as you read from my post the other day I am recovering from a wicked migraine.  They tend to stick with me for a few days after the whole visual aura thing and the day after is the worst.  My head was throbbing, sound was still slightly muddled, and light was my enemy.  Our doula turned awesome friend Molly came over before going to yoga with Kate.  Max put on a smile showcase for her!  He was an angel.  If he wasn’t an angel she’d be cool about it because she has a gaggle of her own.  Kate and Molly waved goodbye, they walked out the door, and Max erupted into tears immediately.  Seriously dude?  Oh well, I’ll give you a bottle and zonk you out.

The cries were his subtle grunts he does (he’s not a big crier) but they were escalating as I heated his bottle of breast milk.  Just before erupting into an explosion of displeasure…PLUNK!  Bottle in mouth.  Suck, suck, suck…  Calm.

Max sucked it down fast!  I was shocked because Kate was breast-feeding him right before she left.  He gulped it down and rewarded my actions with screams of displeasure.  Not cries…screams.  I burped him but he only screamed louder.  Checked the diaper…clean.  Tried holding in different positions…screams.  I heated another bottle and…PLUNK!  Bottle in mouth.  Suck, suck, suck…  Calm.

Again, he responded with SCREAMS after finishing!  What is going on?  I got a big burp out of him, held him in his favorite position, tried to give him a binky, but nothing worked.  He just screamed, and screamed, and screamed, and screamed!  My migraine was escalating with each scream.  I could feel my teeth gritting.  I was getting pissed…not angry…flat out pissed.  I remembered all those videos and pamphlets about how you should never shake a baby and I suddenly understood why they were there.  I am a responsible adult who understands the fragility of my son but in that moment all I wanted to do was scream back at him and shake him!  His screams pierced my soul!  I felt myself losing my grip on sanity and coherent thinking!  My migraine had evolved into something new…each scream caused me to dry heave.  I needed to do something.  No, I did not shake my son.  I did what I had read in the pamphlets…I set him down in his crib and walked away for a few minutes.

I threw up.  His screams mixed in with my migraine simply made me throw up.  I took a few minutes to gather myself and re-entered the nursery where Max was no longer screaming but was still squirming around upset.  I sat down in the rocking chair and breathed.  I had texted Kate a few choice texts (the kind you apologize profusely for later) and she arrived home soon after.  Max nestled into her arms, latched on to a boob, and fell asleep 5 minutes later.  I curled up in a ball in the bedroom and turned off all the lights.  I don’t know if I was recovering from my migraine or ashamed that I had failed so miserably as a father that night.  I don’t know…it felt terrible.

This morning I was hesitant to hold Max as I feared he was mad at me and wouldn’t want to be in my arms.  He’s 3 months old.  He forgave me with a smile, a hug, pulled out some of my chest hair, and spit-up on my twice.  All was normal.  I still feel terrible.  I get so frustrated sometimes with him when I am feeling well…when I am not well…I’m just terrible.  The only thing good about last night is the fact that I put him in the crib and walked away to regain my own sanity.  I made fun of those pamphlets.  I used to joke about shaking the baby.  If you need a pamphlet telling you not to shake a baby you probably shouldn’t be a parent!  Not so funny now.  No matter how good a father, mother, uncle, aunt, grandparent, friend, nanny, etc. you think you are you never know what to expect from a child and sometimes yourself.  Those videos and pamphlets about purple crying, not shaking a baby, and putting the baby down if you get frustrated are very important and I have new respect for them.  I would never do anything to hurt my child or anyone else’s but I sure felt a lot better about stepping away from the situation temporarily having read about it first.

If you get frustrated to the point where you feel the urge (even if it is the tiniest urge) to retaliate, yell, or shake a baby…set him or her down…take a moment.  Its okay.  You need to be able to take care of yourself to take care of another person.  Its like the oxygen mask on the plane, secure your mask first and then assist the child.

4 thoughts on “Put the baby down…and slowly back away.

  1. Very brave of you to write so honestly. I am participating in the Shaken baby awareness month in November by knitting purple baby caps to donate to hospitals. I am so glad you walked away. Hope the migraine is better.

    1. Thanks Sandra! I’d love to post some pictures of your caps in November to help educate myself and my readers about Shaken Baby Syndrome.

  2. You’re definitely not a failure as a father by getting frustrated, angry, or pissed at the situation. It feels like it sometimes when you realize that you could have handled a situation better, but cutting yourself some slack is much more important. The “Boot Camp For Dads” class I attended prior to my daughter’s birth (she’s 11 months now, an entirely different animal) had a great mantra for frustrated dads with infants – no child has ever died because they were crying.

    I’ve actually had times when she was a newborn that I had to put her down and go downstairs and slam doors out of frustration. If you’re not partial to indiscriminate violence against inanimate objects, I suggest taking him for a car ride on occasion 🙂

    1. Thank you James, my dad had the same comment about “no child has ever died because they were crying,” and I’m so glad he taught me that. I am completely fine with violence against inanimate objects and I will tell you the floor lamp in the bedroom had it coming…it was asking for it…being all floor lampy and judging me silently.

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